United MileagePlus Flash Sale – Buy Miles For 2.25 Cents Each

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United’s MileagePlus program is running a flash sale for anyone looking to buy some miles with the best price per mile sitting around 2.25 cents. As with all “flash sales” this one isn’t going to be around for long so if an account needs topping up don’t wait too long.

Link to the promotion page

United MileagePlus Miles Sale – Headline Rules

  • Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT on March 31, 2018.
  • Miles are available in increments of 1,000 up to a maximum of 90,000 miles.
  • Bonus Miles will generally be credited to the recipient’s MileagePlus account when the transaction is complete; provided that certain transactions may take up to 48 hours.
  • MileagePlus members can purchase up to 150,000 miles per account per calendar year.
  • Bonus miles count towards the 150,000 mile annual limit per account.
  • MileagePlus members can purchase up to 150,000 miles per account per calendar year.
  • Credit card will be billed immediately upon purchase.
  • Pricing is only available for purchases made through buymiles.mileageplus.com
  • Miles are nonrefundable.
  • Purchased miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier® status.
  • All MileagePlus Program Rules and terms and conditions apply.
  • GST/HST is charged to Canadian residents.

Don’t forget that Points.com processes all of United’s mileage sales so you won’t earn an airline/travel bonus though your credit cards – make sure to use the card whose points you value most or a credit card on which you’re yet to hit a sign-up bonus target.

For the full T&Cs please use this link and have your MileagePlus number to hand

United MileagePlus

Buying Miles – The Math

  • Buy 5,000 – 14,000 miles and get a 20% bonus
  • Buy 15,000 – 29,000 miles and get a 40% bonus
  • Buy 30,000 – 90,000 miles and get a 67% bonus

To buy United Miles  miles at the best rate per mile you need to buy between 30,000 and 90,000 miles and, within this band, the cost per mile remains constant (more or less).

If you were to buy the full 90,000 miles allowed in this sale it would cost $3,386.25….

…and you would net 150,000 miles after the bonus is applied.

That equates to approximately 2.25 cents per mile.

Buying just 30,000 miles would still qualify you for a 65% bonus and would cost $1,128.75….

…and would net 50,100 miles or 2.25 cents per mile.

Is It Worth Buying Miles In This Sale?

The last promotion at the beginning of the month offer miles for sale at 2.15 cents each so straight away that should give you an idea of what this sale is like.

I value United miles higher than I value the miles issued by the other two legacy carriers but I still don’t value them anywhere close to 2.25 cents each.

This means is that unless I can see a very specific and immediate use for the miles which would save me money I wouldn’t buy miles in this sale.

That’s how I feel….but that doesn’t mean that this sale won’t be useful to some.

I’m can be more flexible than most when it comes to booking flights so I don’t often find myself in a position where I’m forced to purchase fares that cost considerably more than I’m usually happy to pay.

Unfortunately this isn’t the case for a lot of travelers.

Premium cabin fares are usually expensive so, if you absolutely have to fly when fares are not in your favor, miles can help save quite a bit of money as long as there’s award availability that works for you.

As an example, roundtrip non-stop Business Class fares between San Francisco and London for June (on any airline) are currently pricing at almost $4,000….

…..but, if you can find a Business Class United Saver award for dates that work for you, it would set you back just 120,000 miles + taxes.

120,000 miles in this promotion will cost approximately $2,700 and, even when you add in the taxes that you’ll have to pay out of London, you should still save close to $1,000.

Business Class fares on United’s Star Alliance partners are more expensive (140,000 miles for a roundtrip booking) so to book one of those with miles bought in this sale would cost $3,150.

Assuming you get hit for $200 – $300 in taxes and fees you’ll still be saving over $500 per ticket.

Similarly, if you take the example of a roundtrip non-stop Business Class fare between Chicago and Hong Kong in November, the best fare you’ll find is a crazy $7,110:

If you’re lucky enough to find a saver award on United it will cost you 150,000 miles + taxes and, in this sale, the miles would cost $3,375.

Taxes on this route would be minimal so the savings could be fantastic….as long as you can find award availability in the first place – that’s key!

Bottom Line

I can think of only two scenarios in which buying miles in this promotion may be an acceptable idea:

  1. To top up a MileagePlus account with a small number of points to get you enough miles to book an award.
  2. To book an award to save money over a cash fare that you would otherwise have to buy.

If you fall into one of those two categories then here’s a link to buy some miles, if you don’t then this promotion is probably not for you.

Remember that this sale ends at 11:59pm CT on 31 March

Most importantly: Do your research before you buy any miles and make sure the award you want to book is actually available.

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