Through September 29, 2017 at 11:59 CT, 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 30,000 miles purchased. The minimum purchase is 2,000 miles, and purchases must be in increments of 1,000.
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 prices, including bonus, are:
- Get 1,000 to 4,000 miles: 3.76 cents per mile
- Get 5,000 to 19,000 miles: 3.01 cents per mile (25% bonus)
- Get 20,000 to 29,000 miles: 2.51 cents per mile (50% bonus)
- Get 30,000 to 85,000 miles: 2.15 cents per mile (75% bonus)
All of the per mile prices above include tax.
Is This a Good Deal?
No, this is a bad deal for speculative purchases. Since United’s huge devaluation in 2014, I value United miles at around 1.6 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.
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 0.0225, and you can book the dream award now, and LifeMiles somehow is offering a worse deal, buy during this promotion. Otherwise, don’t buy.
As long as you purchase at least 30,000, you can buy United miles for 2.15 cents each through this Friday, September 29. That’s too high to buy speculatively but could be very convenient for topping off a MileagePlus account for a specific redemption.
United sales are processed by points.com, so you do not get category bonuses on cards that bonus airline or travel purchases like the Citi Prestige or Chase Sapphire Reserve. Buy points with whatever card you’re meeting a minimum spending requirement on or who’s rewards you value the highest.
Hat tip Travel Codex