United is back with another promotion to buy miles, but not everyone has the same offers. Now through May 27, 2022, MileagePlus members can buy United miles with up to a 100% bonus. At best, you’ll effectively pay as little as 1.88¢ per mile. But, is this worth it? Let’s take a look.
Key Terms to Buy United Miles Through This Promotion
There are various targeted promotions, so check your account — and those of family members, if you’re in multiplayer mode — to see who has the best deal. We are seeing offers up to 100% bonus miles.
- Promotion is valid through 11:59 p.m. CT on May 27, 2022
- You can purchase a maximum of 175,000 miles per year (including bonus miles)
- Purchased miles may take up to 72 hours to post to your MileagePlus account
- Purchased miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier status
- Miles are nonrefundable
- United miles do not expire
How many miles do you need to buy?
- The minimum purchase is 2,000 miles
- Depending on what offer you are targeted for, you will need to purchase at least 5,000 miles to receive any bonus
- Bonuses are tiered; higher bonuses come when purchasing more miles
- Not all members will be targeted for the maximum bonus
- Bonuses can be up to 100%
- If you are targeted for the best bonus, the purchase rate will be 1.88¢ per mile.
Members targeted for the 100% bonus offer can purchase United miles at the following rates:
- 2,000 to 4,000 miles: no bonus
- 5,000 to 19,000 miles: receive a 50% bonus
- 20,000 to 44,000 miles: receive a 75% bonus
- 45,000 miles or more: receive a 100% bonus
Who Should Buy United Miles?
If you’ve read any of our latest posts regarding mileage sales, then it should come as no surprise that we do not recommend buying miles without a specific plan to use them.
However, there are a couple of exceptions. Buying miles can make sense if you have a specific redemption in mind, and it would cost less to buy the miles than it would cost to buy the flight.
Through this promotion, you can buy MileagePlus miles at these rates:
- 30% bonus is approximately 2.9¢ per mile (terrible)
- 50% bonus is approximately 2.5¢ per mile (not good at all)
- 65% bonus is approximately 2.28¢ per mile (still bad)
- 75% bonus is approximately 2.15¢ per mile (getting better)
- 100% bonus is approximately 1.88¢ per mile (good price for the right redemptions)
Bear in mind that United devalued its MileagePlus program in 2020. But even after this devaluation, there’s still value to be found. For the cheapest mileage rates, you’ll want to stick to flights operated by United.
For example, you can fly from Houston (IAH) to Amsterdam (AMS) for 60,000 miles in business class:
Or Houston (IAH) to Buenos Aires (EZE) for 60,000 miles in business class:
Partner awards are priced at a premium. Examples of the unpublished United partner award chart include the following award prices:
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Porto (OPO) for 77,000 miles in business class
- New York (JFK) to Cape Town (CPT) for 88,000 miles in business class
- San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo (NRT) for 121,000 miles in first class
If you utilize the 100% bonus (1.88¢ per mile), you could buy the miles necessary for these redemptions for:
- Houston (IAH) to Amsterdam (AMS) or Buenos Aires (EZE) — $1,128 in business class
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Porto (OPO) — $1,448 in business class
- New York (JFK) to Cape Town (CPT) — $1,654 in business class
- San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo (HND) — $2,275 in first class
There are a lot of situations where the cost to buy a ticket could be far more expensive than buying miles with this bonus. This is especially true with one-way tickets that often cost more than half the round-trip price.
Maximize Your Purchase
United miles purchases are processed by Points.com, so your purchase will not qualify for any standard travel category bonus. However, if you happen to hold a United co-branded credit card, purchasing miles will qualify as a United purchase, earning the appropriate multiplier. Just make sure to select the “MileagePlus Visa” option from the dropdown list.
If you don’t hold a United co-branded card—or you’d simply prefer to collect another award currency—then your best options are to use the purchase to meet a minimum spend requirement, or use a card optimized for everyday spending. Two of our favorite everyday spending cards include the The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express and Citi® Double Cash Card.
Other Ways to Get United Miles
If you’re not in a bind for time and looking to build your stash of United miles, a better method might be through earning a sign-up bonus on a United co-branded credit card. The United℠ Explorer Card currently comes with a signup bonus of up to 70,000 bonus miles.
Additionally, don’t forget that United is a 1:1 transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards. This means that points earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be converted to United miles if you need a top-up for a redemption.
For the majority of people, buying miles probably doesn’t make sense — and that’s especially true right now. This “up to 100% bonus” offer to buy United miles rivals the best offers we’ve seen — if you get the maximum offer. However, there are better ways for most travelers to get United miles than buying them at 1.88¢ each. For travelers who have tapped out all other sources, though, it can make sense to buy miles for the right award redemption.