United announced a massive devaluation of its miles on Halloween to take effect for awards booked February 1, 2014 or later. Until January 31, 2014, I’ll be running posts about the best ways to burn United miles.

Maybe I should have written this last week because I’m cutting it very close, and I might already be too late! But here goes…

It’s your last chance to earn and burn United miles before the United miles devaluation kicks in February 1, 2014. You can burn up until January 31, 2014, but it’s your last chance to both earn and burn.

Today is December 18, 2013. If you apply for a card that earns United miles or Ultimate Rewards today and are approved for the card, you will likely receive it in the mail in the next week or two.

Tip: You can ask Chase to expedite shipping on your card. A friend recently asked for that and had a Sapphire Preferred within five days of applying. Your mileage may vary. Five days from now is December 23.

Your first statement will close about 30 days after you get the card. Your closing date may vary. Thirty days after December 23 is January 22.

Add it up all the lags and you could have a statement close in late January. If that statement closes and you’ve met the minimum spending requirement on your new card, you will receive your sign up bonus. When?

In my experience, my sign up bonus has always posted the same day as my regular miles from purchases, which is to say, the day of or the day after my statement closes. But, again, your mileage may vary because most cards promise only that you’ll receive your sign up bonus within eight weeks of qualifying for it.

If you get United miles by January 31, 2014, you can book awards on the current United award chart for travel through early 2015, potentially saving you tens of thousands of miles.

If you get Ultimate Rewards by January 31, 2014, they transfer instantly to your United account or your spouse’s United account. (Sign out of your United account and back in to see the transfer.)

Who should earn and burn?

Anyone who wants an award that is going way up in price if booked February 1, 2014 or later should try to earn and burn before then. The biggest miles price increases are in business and first class, especially flying partners. Some economy awards are increasing in price too like mainland US to Hawaii and mainland US to Southeast Asia.

 

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