Here’s How You Can Manufacture United Miles From Just 1.01 Cents Each [My Valuation]

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Earlier this week I wrote about a great way to generate “cheap” miles with which you can then book American Airlines premium awards at a very good rate (assuming you can find the awards you need), and now it looks like it’s possible to do something similar with United MileagePlus.

a plane flying in the sky

How To Generate “Cheap” United Miles

The key to generating cheap United Miles is to combine a current MileagePlus promotion and a Marriott Bonvoy benefit that’s a relic of the old Starwood Preferred Guest program.

The Marriott Bonvoy Transfer Benefit

A great aspect of the old Starwood Preferred Guest program that Marriott took onboard when SPG was folded into Marriott Rewards (now Marriott Bonvoy) was the benefit that allows its loyalty program members to transfer points over to numerous airline partners and that allows them to earn a bonus on the transfer too.

In the case of United MileagePlus, this is how Marriott Bonvoy Points convert to miles:

  • 3,000 Bonvoy Points convert to 1,000 MileagePlus Miles
  • For every 60,000 Bonvoy Points converted a further bonus of 5,000 miles is added
  • United’s unique partnership with Marriott adds a 10% bonus to all Marriott transfers
  • A maximum of 240,000 Bonvoy Points can be converted to United Miles per day

The net result of all this is that 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points convert to 27,500 United Miles.

United MileagePlus Hotel Transfer Promotion

Through 30 November 2019 United MileagePlus is offering 30% bonus miles when you register and convert hotel points into United Miles with a maximum earnable bonus of 25,000 miles.

Combining this bonus with the existing Marriott transfer bonuses will see you generate United Miles at a very low cost.

a room with tables and chairs and a vase with a plant in it
United Polaris Lounge at LAX – Image courtesy of United

The Math

To earn the maximum 25,000 bonus points that United is offering, a minimum of 84,000 United Miles must be created.

  • 180,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points convert to 82,500 Miles (pre 30% bonus)
  • 4,090 Marriot Bonvoy Points convert to 1,500 Miles (pre 30% bonus)

184,090 Marriott Bonvoy Points = 84,000 miles + 25,000 (30% bonus) = 109,000 miles

I value Marriott Bonvoy Points at 0.6 cents each which means…

  • 184,090 Marriott Bonvoy Points are worth $1,014.54
  • 109,000 United Miles have been created from $1,014.54 worth of Bonvoy Points
  • Each United Mile has cost ~1.01 cents to create.

Note: Even if you disagree with my Marriott Bonvoy valuation and value Bonvoy Points at a very loose 0.8 cents each (the valuation one website known for overvaluing points uses) the cost per United Mile generated is still only ~1.35 cents each.

There’s nothing to stop you from generating more than 109,000 United Miles during this promotion but the cost/mile generated will increase after you convert 184,090 Bonvoy Points thanks to the cap on the United bonus.

The Marriott Points Sale

The discussion so far has assumed that you have a stash of Marriott Bonvoy Points ready to convert, but if you don’t have enough Marriott Bonvoy Points in your account to make a worthwhile transfer to United MileagePlus the current Marriott Bonvoy Points sale may be of help.

a pool with a view of the ocean and a boat in the distance

Through 18 October 2019 Marriott is selling Bonvoy points at a discount which sees them on offer at 0.875 cents each.

60,000 Bonvoy Points purchased in this sale would cost $525 and would convert to a total of 35,750 United Miles which would see you generating miles at a cost of ~1.47 cents each.

Using points purchased in this sale to generate United Miles is clearly a more expensive proposition than converting existing Marriott Bonvoy points, and the fact that you can only buy up to 100,000 Bonvoy Points in a year is a hindrance too…but this sale can still be useful if you need to top up a Bonvoy account before you convert points to United Miles.

If you’re a few thousand points short of being able to transfer Bonvoy Points to MileagePlus in a multiple of 60,000, buying points in this sale may make a lot of sense.

Link to Bonvoy Points Sale

Is This Worth It?

United MileagePlus is in the process of transitioning to dynamic award pricing so the cost of premium cabin awards (the best use of United Miles most of the time) is almost certainly going to rise….but that’s not going to be the case for partner awards (or so United has said).

Personally, I wouldn’t convert a significant number of Marriott Bonvoy Points over to MileagePlus unless I could see that an award I want to book is available immediately as I don’t want to find myself stuck with a devaluing currency that I then struggle to use economically.

I would, however, be happy to top up my MileagePlus account using this set of deals if it meant only transferring a reasonable number of Marriott Bonvoy Points (e.g. 100,000) with a view to getting my MileagePlus balance to a level equal to the cost of the next award I’d like to book.

This really is a situation where you have to decide what works best for you.

the tail of an airplane

Bottom Line

The United hotel transfer promotion is running through 30 November so there’s no big hurry to enact any transfers if you can’t yet find any awards you’d like to book.

If, on the other hand, you need to buy Marriott Bonvoy Points before you enact a transfer to MileagePlus, be aware that the points sale is only on for another 9 days (including today) so a bit more urgency is required if you’re going to top up your Bonvoy account.


  1. How stupid is this click bait garbage? Sooo.. you CANT by United miles for 1.01 cents each. They are 1.47.

    There are honest bloggers out there…somewhere …. umm NOPE! No different than CNN or FOX. Will tell you anything to get a click.

    • If you can’t tell the difference between “manufacture” and “buy” and you’re incapable of processing the words “my valuation” in the title then I can’t really help you.

      Please explain how this is (a) clickbait and (b) dishonest

      • I thought you did not permit rudeness on your blog.

        FWIW, this talk about “my valuation” with no immediately identified reference point is highly ambiguous and makes whatever sense that it does only upon a tortured read that reveals that the “manufacturing” is a result of trading, perhaps cleverly arbitraging, loyalty currencies, one of which you assign a monetary value.

        Your scheme manufactures nothing. It might be useful, but is falls far short of spinning hay into gold.

  2. Absolutely.

    This is idiotic. It presumes, based on a “valuation” of Bonvoy @ .8 cents, that UA miles can be manufactured for 1.01 cents.

    But, alas, Bonvoy points cannot be purchased for .8 cents so there is no arbitrage opportunity to be had.

    The title insinuates that one can take 1.01 cents and score a MP point.

    • Actually it presumes a valuation of 0.6 cents/point in order to manufacture Miles at 1.01 cents each. Still…

      The title says that you can manufacture United miles FROM 1.01 cent each based on my valuation (which happens to be closely in line with what most people value Marriott points at).

      If you’re earning Marriott points from credit cards or from stays with Marriott there is definitely a good deal to be had here because the points being earned are worth (in my opinion) 0.6 cents each and at most (by just about all valuations I can find online) 0.8 cents each and those can be used to create United Miles at a cost of between ~1.03 cents and ~1.35 cents each. That’s a good deal.

      If you’re in this to create a ton of United Miles by buying Bonvoy Points and then converting you’re not going to get a great deal…as I point out in the blog.

  3. I wouldn’t call it manufacturing if it doesn’t involve actual (cash) spending. Some examples:

    – a points purchase (direct or indirect), i.e. 1.47cpp
    – manufactured spending, e.g. $fee/1.19mi on the Boundless if you don’t have a CFU/CS_ combination
    – meeting a SUB on a card you wouldn’t otherwise consider, e.g. converting the Boundless’s SUB to 42,900 UA
    – opportunity cost on earnings, not on an existing balance

    I wouldn’t go as far as calling it clickbait, we all have different definitions…

    • I appreciate the considered reply but what would you have me call the process of generating United Miles from Bonvoy points if not “manufacturing”?

      The ridiculous part of all of this is that I chose the words in the title carefully to (a) make sure that I didn’t suggest that someone can buy their way to my valuation and (b) to emphasize that the valuation in the title was mine and not a fixed one…and yet still I get people complaining.

  4. I gotta agree that this post is a bit pointless. Having a subjective valuation of Marriott points is entirely fair, but then using that hazy number to calculate other things is just bad math at best, deceptive at worst. “Manufacturing for 1.01 cents” clearly implies that there is a way to begin with 1.01 cents and end with 1 united mile, which is simply not the case.

    To be constructive, I suggest that you reference Marriott points in the title, instead of a presumed value, and be more up-front about the fact that you need to begin with many Marriott points.

  5. Is this math right? When I go to the Marriott site and I start the process to convert to United and put in 180,000, it shows me that converts to 66,000 United Miles. If I do the 4,090, then it matches your 1,500 miles. What’s going on here?

    • Marriott’s calculator doesn’t show the bonus 5,000 miles that get deposited into your airline FF account for every 60,000 you transfer nor does it show the 10% added bonus that gets added to the 5,000 either.

      180,000 = 3 x 60,000 –> 3 x 5,500 bonuses = 16,500 = the difference between your 66,000 and my 82,500

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