MileValue is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit to learn more.

Note: Some of the offers mentioned below may have changed or are no longer be available. You can view current offers here.

Through September 30, 2015, United is offering up to a 75% bonus on purchased miles. The size of the bonus depends on the number of miles you buy, with the largest 75% bonus kicking in at 40,000 miles purchased (70,000 total miles after the bonus.)

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.27.03 PM

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 bonuses are:

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.27.09 PM

That makes the per mile prices 3.01 cents, 2.51 cents, and 2.15 cents respectively.

Buying 40,000 miles–the fewest you need to purchase to get the biggest bonus–costs $1,505, which is 2.15 cents each for the 70,000 United miles you get.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.27.29 PM

Is This a Good Deal?

No, this is a terrible deal. Since United’s huge devaluation last year, I value United miles at around 1.5 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.

There are a few United awards for which you’ll get more than 2.15 cents of value per mile, but even in those cases, you’d probably be better off buying LifeMiles for 1.4 cents each and redeeming them for the exact same award.


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 0.0215, 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 148,750 United miles for 2.15 cents each. That’s way too high to buy speculatively.

United sales are processed by, so you do not get category bonuses on cards that bonus airline or travel purchases like the Citi Prestige® Card, which offers 3x on purchases from airlines. (By contrast, AA’s sale of miles for 2.00 cents each is processed by AA, so you do get bonus points for buying the miles with a Prestige.)

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

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

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.