Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site – I’m very grateful to anyone who uses these links but their use is entirely optional. The compensation does not impact how and where products appear on this site and does not impact reviews that are published. For more details please see the advertising disclosure found at the bottom of every page.
United has launched a flash mileage sale which lasts through to the end of the day on Thursday June 13th and, as the sale is offering the highest bonus we generally see United publish and as United has increased the number of miles you can buy to 175,000, this may be one of the better times to top up an account if the math works for you.
Headline Terms & Conditions
- Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT on June 13, 2019.
- Miles are available in increments of 1,000 up to a maximum of 87,500 miles.
- 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.
- Bonus Miles will generally be credited to the recipient’s MileagePlus account when the transaction is complete; provided that certain transactions may take up to 48 hours.
- Bonus miles count towards the 175,000 mile annual limit per account.
- Purchase up to 175,000 miles per account per calendar year.
- Credit card will be billed immediately upon purchase.
- Mileage rates and other fees and offer terms are subject to change.
- Pricing is only available for purchases made through buymiles.mileageplus.com
- Miles are nonrefundable.
- Purchased miles do not count toward MileagePlus Premier® status.
- All MileagePlus Program Rules and terms and conditions apply.
- GST/HST is charged to Canadian residents.
- Powered by Points to purchase United MileagePlus miles. Transaction will appear as ‘Points United Miles’.
The Bonus Tiers
There are just three tiers in this flash sale:
- Buy 5,000 – 14,000 miles – Get a 40% bonus
- Buy 15,000 – 39,000 miles – Get a 60% bonus
- Buy 40,000 – 87,500 miles – Get a 100% bonus
Within each bonus band the price per MileagePlus mile remains the same:
- 5,000 – 14,000 miles the cost is ~2.69 cents/mile
- 15,000 – 39,000 miles the cost is ~2.35 cents/mile
- 40,000 – 87,500 miles the cost is ~1.88 cents/mile
The good news here is that within each pricing band the cost per point stays the same – it doesn’t matter if you buy 40,000 or 87,500 United Miles you’ll still pay the same per mile.
Buying the maximum number of miles would get you 175,000 miles after the bonus has been added and would cost $3,292.19:
175,000 MileagePlus miles at a cost of $3,292.19 is ~ 1.88 cents per mile.
Should You Buy United Miles In This Sale?
1.88 cents/mile is just about as low as we generally see United selling its currency but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a fantastic deal.
How good or bad this flash sale is will vary significantly based on what each person’s needs are and, much more importantly, if awards are actually available to book.
United no longer publishes award charts (because, apparently, customers love an opaque loyalty program) and awards are now pricing dynamically (in line with cash fares) but, on a good day, you may still be able to snag a roundtrip Business Class saver award for travel between the 48 contiguous States and Europe for around 120,000 miles.
If you were to purchase miles at the cheapest rate this promotion offers (1.88 cents), that award would cost ~ $2,258.
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.
A partner award for travel between the US and Europe costs a little more but, based on my recent experiences with United, it’s also more likely to be available.
At 140,000 miles (+ taxes) for roundtrip travel it would cost you approximately $2,632 to buy enough miles in this sale to book such an award and that’s definitely not a great deal.
It’s worth noting that, when it comes to award travel, there are a number of economic factors that need to be considered other than just the cost of the miles:
- You’re restricted to flights on which United decides to open up for awards so it’s very possible that you may not be able to fly when its most convenient for you.
- By booking an award you’re passing up on the redeemable miles you would earn if you paid cash for your ticket
- By booking an award you’re passing up on the miles that contribute to Elite qualification (PQM)
- By booking an award you’re passing up on the Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQD) that contribute to Elite qualification
Convenience, redeemable miles, PQM and PQD all have a value that you’re not getting when booking an award so you need to consider this when working out the value proposition of an award booking vs a cash booking.
If you only purchase miles when you have a solid plan for what you’re going to do with them you’ll rarely go wrong – you can check awards are available, you can check the cost of flights and, by comparing the two, you can make an informed decision.
At 1.88 cents/mile there will be some good deals on offer…you’ll just have to look for them.
If, on the other hand, you purchase miles thinking that you’ll find a good use for them in the future you’re going to lose money in the long run. That’s as close to a certainty as you can get in the miles & points world.