‘Purchase’ UA MileagePlus miles at only a little over 2 cents

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Airline program shopping portals are a great way to earn miles and points.  And now through 12/31 -via MileagePlus Shopping- the Magazines.com store has a UA miles earn rate of 45 miles/$.  You could look at it as purchasing UA miles at less than a half a cent, even if you don’t need the magazine subscriptions at all (you can always donate them); and although just recently there was an even better offer at 53 miles/$, this is still one that could make sense for you.  Additionally, through January 6, MileagePlus shopping portal is running a “New Years Bonus” campaign in which a member will earn a one-time bonus of up to 1,000 MileagePlus bonus award miles on qualifying purchases, in addition to the standard MileagePlus miles earned from shopping online through the MileagePlus Shopping mall.

Note that United also has an offer through 12/31 of up to 50% bonus miles when you purchase personal miles, depending on the amount purchased (buy 5,000 – 14,000 get 25% bonus / buy 15,000 – 100,000 and get 50% bonus).  Let’s look at 2 scenarios to see which of these offers gives you the most value for your $.

Scenario 1 – You need 10k miles.

Purchase through United website: 8,000 + 2,000 bonus (25%) + $21 tax recovery fee: $280.00

‘Purchase’ through United shopping portal (incl. NYB campaign) : $200.00

Scenario 2 – You need 50k miles.

Purchase through United website: 34,000 + 17,000 bonus (50%) + $78.75 tax recovery fee: $1,268.75

‘Purchase’ through United shopping portal (incl. NYB campaign): $ 1,089.00

As you can see, regardless of the bonus that UA is offering, you’re still better off using this Magazines.com offer as a means to purchase UA miles.

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.  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.  This could be a great way to pay little $ for an expensive seat on a plane.
  • You don’t have any 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, often you might be better off paying for the ticket than spending the money to attain miles with either of these offers.

In summary, it works to our advantage to always keep on the watch for ‘not-so-obvious’ ways of earning miles, as it may save us a bit or A LOT of $.  Be sure to let me know if you’re going to take advantage of this opportunity within the next few days.


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