HomeMiles & Points SaleBuy United Airlines Miles at just 1.88 cents each (and with an...

Buy United Airlines Miles at just 1.88 cents each (and with an increased purchase limit)

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United Airlines has launched a new mileage sale in which, once again, it’s offering MileagePlus members the chance to buy miles with a bonus of up to 100%. This sale, however, looks a little bit more interesting than some of the other sales that United has published in recent months as the maximum number of miles available appears to be higher.

The offer

This is the offer that I can see in my account:

  • Buy 2,000 – 4,000 miles and get no bonus
  • Buy 5,000 – 14,000 miles and get a 50% bonus
  • Buy 15,000 – 39,000 and get a 75% bonus
  • Buy 40,000 – 112,500 miles and get a 100% bonus

Note: As mentioned earlier, this is a targeted promotion so the offer you see in your account may differ from what you see above.

Important to note

When you first access the “buy miles” section of United’s website, you may be faced with a promotion with a bonus of less than 100% – I could see a bonus of just 70%.

a screenshot of a website

Fortunately, after I had logged in the full 100% bonus was quickly revealed.

a man riding a bike on a beach

Key terms

  • Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT on February 28, 2022.
  • Promotional offer not applicable to past transactions.
  • Bonus miles count toward the 175,000-mile annual limit per account**
  • You may purchase up to 175,000 miles per account per calendar year**
  • Miles will generally be credited to the recipient’s MileagePlus account when the transaction is complete; provided that certain transactions may take up to 72 hours.
  • Bonuses will be calculated on a per transaction basis only.
  • The bonus amount applicable to a transaction is shown in the chart.
  • Transactions may not be aggregated to calculate the bonus.
  • The credit card used in the transaction will be billed immediately upon purchase.
  • Miles purchased are nonrefundable.
  • Purchased miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier® status.
  • GST/HST is charged to Canadian residents. QST is charged to Quebec residents.
  • If you use Powered by Points to purchase United MileagePlus miles. Transaction will appear as ‘Points United Miles’.
  • Buying miles counts as a United purchase when made with your United MileagePlus card. You’ll get the miles you buy, plus miles for every $1 spent.
  • Pricing is only available for purchases made through buymiles.mileageplus.com.

**This appears to be an error (old wording) as my account is offering me up to 225,000 miles (including bonus) – see below.

The full terms and conditions can be found on the promotion page.

Click To Buy United Miles

The math

United doesn’t play around with the price of its miles within each of the promotional bands that it offers so if you buy 40,000 or 112,500 miles, you’ll still be buying miles at the best rate offered in this sale.

Here’s the proof:

If you were to buy just 40,000 miles in this sale, it would cost you $1,505 which comes to ~1.88 cents/mile.

a screenshot of a receipt

If you were to buy the full 112,500 miles permitted in this sale, it would cost you $4,232.81 which also comes to ~1.88 cents/mile.

a screenshot of a phone

This is good news for anyone who doesn’t need the full permitted amount but needs 80,000 miles or more.

Is this a good deal?

As usual, let’s get this important point out of the way before I go any further – If you have no immediate use for any miles that you buy, you shouldn’t be taking part in this sale. It’s a bad idea to stockpile miles at the best of times so while travel to many parts of the world is still constrained, buying miles that you don’t plan to use in the short term isn’t a great idea (my golden rule applies).

I value United MileagePlus miles higher than I value the miles issued by either Delta or American, but I still value them at lower than the 1.88 cents selling price we’re seeing here. What this means is that unless I can see a very specific and immediate use for the miles (which would save me money) I wouldn’t buy miles in this sale.


As I find myself typing quite often, my situation isn’t always the situation that a lot of people find themselves in. My schedule usually allows me to be extremely flexible when I’m choosing when to fly so I don’t often find myself in a position where I’m forced to purchase fares that cost considerably more than I’m usually comfortable paying.

A fact of life is that outside of sales and the occasional amazing deal that we see, premium cabin fares for departures from the US are usually expensive (often very expensive) so, if you have no choice but to fly when fares are not in your favor, miles may help you save a considerable amount of money if award bookings are available.

Disappointingly, United no longer publishes award charts and awards are now pricing more dynamically (in line with cash fares) but, on a good day, you may still be able to snag an international roundtrip Business Class saver award for between 120,000 and 130,000 miles.

If you were to purchase miles at the cheapest rate this promotion offers (1.88 cents), that award would cost between $2,256 and $2,444 (taxes should be immaterial). That’s not a bad price for a Business Class fare but it’s also not fantastic, especially as awards at that price won’t be easy to find. Partner awards cost a little more but, based on my experiences with United, they’re also more likely to be available.

In general, you’ll probably get a lot more value out of booking awards for transpacific travel than transatlantic travel with miles purchased in this sale (transpacific Business Class cash fares tend to be considerably higher) but when prices are high, miles from this sale can work well for transatlantic routes too.

Click To Buy United Miles

Things to keep in mind

  1. International travel is looking a lot healthier now than it did just a few months ago but that doesn’t mean that you should throw caution to the wind. Make sure that:
    1. Awards are available to book.
    2. Your chosen destination will allow you to visit.
    3. Your chosen destination will not impose any severe sanctions on you (e.g. long quarantine period) once you arrive.
  2. When it comes to award travel, there are a number of other factors that need to be considered other than just the cost of purchasing miles for an award:
    1. You’re restricted to flights on which United and its partners decide to open up for awards so it’s very possible that you may not be able to fly when it’s most convenient for you;
    2. By booking an award you’re passing up on the redeemable miles you would earn if you paid cash for your ticket;
    3. By booking an award you’re passing up on the miles/points that contribute to Elite qualification;
    4. Convenience, redeemable miles, and elite qualifying points all have a value that you’re not getting when booking an award, so you need to consider all of this when working out the value proposition of an award booking vs a cash booking.

Booking an award flight can be a fantastic deal but you need to weigh up the pros and cons thoroughly before you decide to buy miles in a sale like this one.

Buy miles with a United co-branded credit card

United’s terms and conditions appear to confirm that it continues to sell its miles through Points.com so based on past history, we would expect any miles purchases to code as Points.com purchases which would not earn buyers any bonus points that their credit card may offer for airline/travel purchases.

For the fifth sale in a row, however, the terms and conditions of the sale also say the following:

“Buying miles counts as a United® purchase when made with your United MileagePlus card. You’ll get the miles you buy, plus miles for every $1 spent.”

I’m not sure how they have got around the issue of getting a Points.com purchase to be treated as a United Airlines purchase but this continues to be great news…especially for anyone who holds the card_name (review) which earns 4 miles/dollar spent on purchases made directly with United Airlines.

Bottom line

As usual, I can think of two scenarios in which buying miles in this promotion may be a good idea:

  1. You need to top up a MileagePlus account to give yourself enough miles to book an award that you know is available to be booked.
  2. You need to book an award to save money over a cash fare that you would otherwise have to buy.

If you find yourself in either of these three scenarios then buying miles in this sale is probably a good idea. If not, this sale is probably not one that you should be considering. Most importantly: Do your research before you buy any miles and make sure the award you want to book is actually available before you add more miles to your account.

Click To Buy United Miles

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