Flash Sale on United Miles: 67% Bonus Through June 2

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Through June 2, 2017 at 11:59 CT (today and tomorrow), United is offering up to a 67% bonus on purchased miles. The size of the bonus depends on the number of miles you buy, with the largest 67% bonus kicking in at 30,000 miles purchased. The minimum purchase is 2,000 miles, and purchases must be in increments of 1,000.

United miles normally cost 3.5 cents per mile plus a 7.5% tax, bringing the full price to 3.76 cents each. During the sale, the prices, including bonus, are:

  • Get 1,000 to 4,000 miles: 3.76 cents per mile
  • Get 5,000 to 14,000 miles: 3.13 cents per mile (20% bonus)
  • Get 15,000 to 29,000 miles: 2.69 cents per mile (40% bonus)
  • Get 30,000 to 75,000 miles: 2.25 cents per mile (67% bonus)

All of the per mile prices above include tax.

Buying 30,000 miles–the fewest you need to purchase to get the biggest bonus–costs $1,128.75, which is 2.25 cents each for the 50,100 United miles you get.

Is This a Good Deal?

No, this is a bad deal for speculative purchases. Since United’s huge devaluation in 2014, I value United miles at around 1.6 cents. The bottom line on all mileage sales is that they’re a good deal if you have an immediate, high-value use and not a good deal otherwise.

In most cases, you’d probably be better off buying LifeMiles for 1.47 each and redeeming them for the exact same award.

Math

To figure out if you have a high-value use, use this simple expression:

(A – B) / (C + D)

  • A: Value of the award. Important: this is the lesser of the cash price and your subjective value.
  • B: Taxes on the award
  • C: Miles used on the award
  • D: Miles you would earn if you purchased the award ticket with cash

This will spit out the dollar value you are getting for your miles. If that number is greater than 0.0225, and you can book the dream award now, and LifeMiles somehow is offering a worse deal, buy during this promotion. Otherwise, don’t buy.

Bottom Line

You can buy 90,000 United miles for 2.25 cents each through tomorrow. That’s way too high to buy speculatively.

United sales are processed by points.com, so you do not get category bonuses on cards that bonus airline or travel purchases like the Citi Prestige or Chase Sapphire Reserve. Buy points with whatever card you’re meeting a minimum spending requirement on or who’s rewards you value the highest.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Scott; You can shorten your post whenever United has a sale on miles to simply “Buying United miles is NEVER a good deal”. I have been a United customer for years and have always looked at the sales. It ALWAYS takes way more money to buy enough miles to get an award Business ticket to Europe that if you buy the ticket outright when they have a fare sale. Unless you can score a saver award (which are hard to find), buying miles for an award ticket is only worthwhile if you need to fly now and there is no sale fare.

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