Buy UA miles now at up to 50% bonus or wait?

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UPDATE: Via TPG, some folks have received an even better offer of up to 75% bonus miles through this offer’s link.

Some weeks ago I wrote a post about using MileagePlus shopping offers with the real motive of ‘purchasing’ UA miles.  The post showed how to leverage a 45 miles/$ offer by purchasing magazine subscriptions (offer has already expired).  At the time I published the post, there was an additional New Year’s miles bonus on eligible purchases which returned even more value on the transaction.  This essentially accomplished the same as purchasing UA miles at around 2.17 cents/mile – plus the magazine subscriptions!  UA miles are usually sold at 3.5 cents/mile.  I also mentioned on the post an offer at the time to purchase UA miles directly through the United website with up to a 50% bonus.  That offer has already expired as well, however, yesterday I received an e-mail from United regarding a similar offer that will be available through 1/23.

This is what the offer looks like:

The bonus depends on the tier you select to purchase in.  Different than the previous offer, this one has a mid-level tier.  Let’s use 2 scenarios to look at the numbers:

Scenario 1 – You need 10k miles.

Purchase through United website: 9,000 + 1,800 bonus (20%): $315.00 or 2.91 cents/mile

Scenario 2 – You need 50k miles.

Purchase through United website: 34,000 + 17,000 bonus (50%): $1,190.00 or 2.38 cents/mile

So, should you buy?

If you don’t have any upcoming travel plans, then there’d be no need to spend the money, as you can probably earn those miles without spending this much by using a combination of the tools available to earn miles and points.   Also, keep on the watch for MileagePlus Shopping earn rates, as it’s not uncommon to see offers that will provide you with the ability to ‘purchase’ the miles at close to 2 cents/mile.  If you can wait, then wait.  However, there may be some situations that could warrant this purchase.  For example:

  • You’re a number of miles short to book a ticket for an upcoming trip that’s fast approaching.  This could be a great way to pay little $ for an expensive seat on a plane.
  • You have a 0 balance of miles or points to transfer, and need to purchase a ticket soon.  Again, check all your options before you do this, but it’s likely that it’ll be less expensive to purchase the magazine subscriptions via the shopping portal that add up to the desired amount of miles, than straight up paying for the ticket.  For instance, a business class roundtrip ticket to Frankfurt from Chicago will cost me $4300+ in March with the more renowned Star Alliance members, whereas ‘purchasing’ the 115k miles needed to make that trip in business class through the shopping portal will cost me $2,555.56.

Warning: If you’re intending to fly in economy class, you might be better off paying for the ticket than spending the money to attain miles to get an award ticket this offer.

If, like me, you’ll miss out on the Chase Sapphire Reserve 100k spend bonus, and are in need for UA miles, this could be an immediate solution, but note that there may be better options coming around soon.

Will you purchase UA miles leveraging this new up to 50% bonus miles on miles purchases offer?


Give me your thoughts