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United MileagePlus has launched a new flash sale ahead of Black Friday in which it’s offering a discount on the cost of miles rather than a bonus. The discount being offered is 50% and while this reduces the cost/mile to levels that may tempt quite a few people, you should think carefully about how many miles you’d like to buy before participating in this sale.
This is the offer that I can see in my account:
- Buy 2,000 – 4,000 miles and get no discount
- Buy 5,000 – 24,000 miles and get a 25% discount
- Buy 25,000 – 39,000 miles and get a 35% discount
- Buy 40,000 – 175,000 miles and get a 50% discount
Note: United has been known to vary promotions from customer to customer so the offer you see in your account may differ from what you see above.
- Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT on November 26, 2021.
- 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.
The full terms and conditions can be found on the promotion page.
United doesn’t play around with the price of its miles within each of the promotional bands that it offers so if you buy 60,000 or 175,000 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 $752.50 which comes to ~1.88 cents/mile.
If you were to buy the full 175,000 miles permitted in this sale, it would cost you $3,292.19 which also comes to ~1.88 cents/mile.
This is good news for anyone who doesn’t need the full 175,000 miles but needs 40,000 miles or more.
Should you buy miles in this sale?
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 any kind of mileage 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).
Even if you think that you have a plan for how to use any miles that you purchase in this sale, there’s a reason to be cautious because this deal is no better than the deal that we saw earlier this month so it’s nothing particularly special. We’re not being offered an extra special sale in honor of Black Friday or Cyber Monday so there’s no need to rush into anything.
It’s true to say that at 1.88 cents/mile, this is just about as cheap as we see United selling its currency, but the problem with a sale in which a discount (rather than a bonus) is offered is that the number of miles you can buy is capped at 175,000.
If all you need is 175,000 miles, this isn’t an issue and it’s probably safe for you to buy miles in this sale. If, however, you’d prefer to buy more than 175,000 miles, it may be worth waiting to see what sale United publishes next.
A couple of weeks after its Black Friday sale ended last year, United published a sale in which a 100% bonus was offered and I see no reason why the airline shouldn’t do the same thing again this year (it’s not like 100% bonuses are rare).
Should this happen, miles will still be available at 1.88 cents each (just as they are in this sale) but there will be up to 350,000 miles on offer at that price and that may work a lot better for anyone hoping to get a deal on more than one long-haul Business Class fare.
Buying Miles? Keep this in mind
As I noted during the sale we saw towards the beginning of the month…
United’s terms and conditions appear to show 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 second time, however, the terms and conditions of this 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 is great news.
Presumably, if the purchase of miles will now code as a United Airlines purchase, anyone buying United Miles should now not only be able to use their United cards to get boosted earnings, but they should also be able to use cards like the Platinum Card® From American Express, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and the Citi Premier Card to get bonus points too. That’s excellent news.
If you’re happy buying miles at ~1.88 cents each and don’t need more than 175,000 of them, this sale should work for you. If, however, you think that a higher purchase limit may be useful, waiting to see what sale United publishes next is probably a good idea.