FLASH SALE: United Mileage Plus Is Selling Miles With A 40% Discount


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United Airlines has launched a flash sale of its miles in which it’s offering discounts of up to 40% through 26 July 2019. This doesn’t leave you with very many days in which to buy miles at a discount, but make sure you work out the math before you rush into any purchases.

The Offer

  • Buy 5,000 – 14,000 miles and get a 20% discount
  • Buy 15,000 – 29,000 miles and get a 30% discount
  • Buy 30,000 – 175,000 miles and get a 40% discount

The maximum number of miles you can buy in a year remains 175,000

Headline Terms & Conditions

  • Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT on July 26, 2019.
  • 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.
  • Allow 48 hours for miles to process and post to your MileagePlus account.
  • 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’.

Full terms & conditions can be found on the main promotion page

The Math

Because United Mileage Plus doesn’t play around with pricing within individual discount bands it makes no difference if you buy 30,000 miles…

….or 175,000 miles in this sale:

In both instances you will be buying miles at ~2.25 cents/mile.

Is This A Good Time To Buy United Miles?

If you’re planning on stockpiling the miles the answer to that question is simple – no.

Never, ever hoard miles.

So, assuming you’re not planning on buying miles just to sit on them, here are a few things to note:

  • At 2.25 cents/mile this is one of the weaker promotions United runs – we’ve seen miles offered at 1.88 cents each this year.
  • There’s no scope for earning any extra credit card points here (from bonus category spending) as the transactions are processed by Points.com and will earn just 1 point or mile per dollar.
  • I value United MileagePlus miles higher than I value the miles issued by either Delta or American but I still value them considerably lower than the 2.25 cents selling price that’s on offer right now.

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.

However…..

My situation isn’t the situation a lot of people find themselves in as I can be more flexible than most when it comes to booking flights. This means that I don’t often find myself in a position where I’m forced to purchase fares that cost considerably more than I’m generally happy to pay.

A fact of life is that premium cabin fares are usually expensive (often very expensive) so, if you absolutely have to fly when fares are not in your favor, miles may help you save a considerable amount of money (as long as you can find award availability that works for you).

Here’s what I mean:

Roundtrip non-stop Business Class fares between San Francisco and Paris for October (on any airline) can often start at around $3,900 and are usually well over $4,000:

…..but, if you can find a Business Class United Saver award for dates that work for you, it would set you back just 120,000 miles + taxes.

120,000 miles in this promotion will cost approximately $2,700 so, even when you add in the taxes that you’ll have to pay out of Paris, you should still be able to make some serious savings.

Business Class fares on United’s Star Alliance partners are more expensive (140,000 miles for a roundtrip booking) so to book one of those with miles bought in this sale would cost ~$3,150….but that can still represent a very nice saving if you can find award availability.

This doesn’t just work for transatlantic routes, the savings across the Pacific can be even better.

If you take the example of a roundtrip non-stop Business Class fare between San Francisco and Tokyo fares often start at over $7,000!

If you’re lucky enough to find a saver award on United it will cost you 140,000 miles + taxes and, in this sale, the miles would cost ~$3,150.

A Star Alliance award would cost 160,000 miles on this route so an award on one of United’s partners would cost you around $3,600.

Taxes on this route would be minimal so the savings could be fantastic….as long as you can find award availability in the first place – that’s key!

Bottom Line

I can think of only three scenarios in which buying miles in this promotion may be a good idea:

  1. To top up a MileagePlus account with a small number of points to get you enough miles to book an award.
  2. To book an award to save money over a cash fare that you would otherwise have to buy.
  3. To create some account activity to prevent your miles from expiring.

If you fall into one of those three categories then here’s a link to buy some miles, if you don’t then this promotion is probably not for you.

Remember that this sale ends (26 July 2019) at 11:59pm CT

Most importantly: Do your research before you buy any miles and make sure the award you want to book is actually available.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The 85% bonus they ran a little while ago was deemed “weak” by most (including myself). This works out to a 67% bonus… no thanks.

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