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Buying Miles with United Mileage Plus

I got an email from United Mileage Plus that I can purchase 30,000-85,000 miles and receive a 70% bonus.
I've never bought miles before. Is this a good deal? I typically use my miles for overseas travel in business class.

Posted by
16941 posts

Actually, I'm showing 20,000-80,000 with 80% bonus. Offer ends Oct 23.

At that rate, they are selling them at 1.94 cents per mile ($700 gets you 20,000 plus 16,000 bonus or 36,000 miles).

I've always gone with the rule of thumb is that a mile is worth about 1.5 cents. 25,000 can get you a round trip ticket worth $375, more or less. The normal rate that they sell miles is 3.5 cents per mile.

So this offer comes out as an so-so deal, but not a screaming bargain, at least in my book.

Posted by
478 posts

Do better offers periodically come up during the year? Trying to decide if I should wait for the next one. Also, is there a link for the offer you've described? The only one I have is what I posted above. Thanks.

Posted by
3580 posts

I got an offer like that, too. It's worth the money if you need a few thousand miles to be able to pay for a flight with FF miles.

I get these offers via email every couple of months.

Posted by
3493 posts

I am a United frequent flyer and my last several trips to Europe in business class was paid with miles saving me many thousands of dollars in cash I would have had to spend otherwise. But, I would buy the extra miles only if I needed that few thousand more to get enough for a business class ticket and I knew for sure I would not fly enough to accumulate them soon enough. I usually fly enough during the year, both business and personal, to cover all my frequent flyer reward needs. Lucky me. :-)

Important thing to remember about these types of mileage purchases is that they don't advance you in the Elite rankings (if that is important to you). So if you are only a Silver Elite with United, buying even hundreds of thousands of miles will leave you as a Silver Elite. Just with lots of miles to use.

Oh, and my current offer says "Buy 30,000 to 80,000 and get an 80% bonus!" Cost is 0.01999 per mile or $2,800 for the maximum miles. This would give me almost enough miles for an off peak business seat to Europe just from this offer.

Posted by
167 posts

For united airlines a one way business class ticket to Europe is around 57,000 miles, at least that is what the last trip I cost me in miles.
I did the math and did not make it a deal for me. Example. 31,000+24,800 for $ 1085 does not make it a deal for me.
Now if I only needed a few thousand miles or so to make that flight, then possibly an option.
If you can plan far enough ahead, Google flight is your friend. In my experience American Airlines has the best award redemption , 50,000 one way from charlotte nc to most European destinations.

And looking ahead to 2016, not too difficult to find business class round trip for around $2000, I have found some for as low as 1600 to Madrid,for example.

Posted by
2776 posts

Flyertalk and The Points Guy, among others, live for and track this stuff like crazy

Posted by
518 posts

Other than buying your miles, try and be disciplined and regular about using your credit card for everything, from small to large purchases. I even use it to pay my property tax (and yes I've done the math on it, the service fee collected for using your credit card to pay property tax is, for me, a small price for a lot of miles that come out of it), insurance, etc., too bad I can't pay my mortgage with it. So, over the years I've earned far more miles form my purchases than from flying (I only fly once or twice a year).

Posted by
478 posts

Thanks for the responses. I use my card all the time, especially since I'm a small business owner. I've traveled to Europe every year in business class for the past 4 years or so (sometimes with enough for my husband to get a free ticket). I've found, though, that in the last year or 2 it's difficult to find those great 'super saver' fares/points for travel overseas. I'm thinking it has something to do with the merger of United and Continental (?) and more people vying for the same routes with their miles. Anyways, that's probably another topic.

Posted by
167 posts

Some may not be aware that Delta, United and American allow one way reward tickets with miles.
This can work to your advantage if taking advantage of credit card offers. For example, my next trip to Europe is a Luftansa one way business class and then a return one way business class on United.
Booking ahead as far as possible is the key not only to finding award flights but also for buying a ticket.
I try to look ahead as far as the airlines allow booking which is typically 250 days.
Booking ahead has saved me thousands of dollars in airlines tickets, and availability of reward tickets.
This is true for hotels as well, I have booked on for trips up to 10 months in the future for a very reasonable rate and noticed that a month before my travel, my reservation would have cost me double or triple what my rate was. Classic supply and demand, I suppose.