How to generate even a low number of United Miles at just 1.86 cents each

the tail of an airplane

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Right now, United Airlines isn’t running a mileage sale but that doesn’t mean that you can’t buy miles at a big discount to what the airline is currently charging. In fact, it’s currently possible to generate up to 72,000 United Miles at a cost of just 1.86 cents each and, possibly more importantly, you can generate as few as 4,000 miles at the same cost/mile.

How to generate United Miles at 1.86 cents each

The key to generating United Miles at 1.8 cents each is the Choice Privileges program and the two promotions that it’s currently running:

  1. You can currently buy Choice Points at a 25% discount
  2. You can currently transfer Choice Points to United Mileage Plus with a 100% bonus

Step 1 – Buy Choice Points

Through 16 August 2020, members of the Choice Privileges program can buy up to 180,000 points with a discount of 25%, and as long as you buy at least 10,000 Choice points, you will be buying points at the lowest available rate.

Here’s the math:

a close-up of a receipt

10,000 points for $74.25 or 180,000 for $1,336.50 both work out to a cost per point of just 0.7425 cents.

Step 2 – Transfer points to United MileagePlus

Ordinarily, conversions of Choice Privileges points to United MileagePlus Miles take place in a ratio of 5:1 but, through 31 July 2020, that transfer ratio has been improved to 5:2 (see this page).

The terms of the offer state the following:

For a limited time, Choice Privileges members are eligible to redeem 5,000 or more Choice Privileges points into United MileagePlus miles at double the normal rate; while this promotion lasts for every 5,000 Choice Privileges points you redeem, you’ll get for 2,000 United MileagePlus miles, instead of 1,000. Minimum redemption is 5,000 Choice Privileges points (for 2,000 United MileagePlus miles) and redemptions above 5,000 must be in 1,000 point increments. Transactions must be completed between 09:00 a.m. ET June 26 and 11:59 p.m. ET July 31, 2020 to be eligible to receive the offer. 

If you buy 180,000 points in the current Choice points sale, those points can be converted to 72,000 United MileagePlus Miles. Effectively, 72,000 United miles just cost you $1,336.50 which works out to a cost of approximately 1.86 cents/mile.

Click To Buy Choice Points

Is this worth it?

As usual, my golden rule for miles & points sales applies so no one should be buying points without a solid plan for how to use them in the short term but, that aside, this could be a very useful way to generate United Miles.

The best rate at which we see United Miles on sale is when the airline offers a 100% bonus on mileage purchases (miles can cost just 1.75 cents each) but as these sales aren’t exactly frequent, United Miles are more usually found on sale at no less than 1.89 cents each and, more commonly, at over 2 cents each. Automatically that makes any method that allows you to generate miles at just 1.86 cents each interesting.

What makes this way of generating United Miles extra interesting is that it allows you to generate small numbers of miles at 1.86 cents each and that’s something that no United sale ever allows. To buy miles at a rate this low in a regular United mileage sale would require you to buy at least 40,000 to 50,000 miles costing $744 – $930…and you may not need that many miles. With this method, you can generate as few as 4,000 miles at 1.86 cents each (an outlay of under $75) and that makes this a wonderful opportunity to top off a MileagePlus account that is just a few thousand miles short of having enough miles for a great award booking.

Don’t forget

Choice Privilege Points sales are processed through so there’s no scope to earn a travel/flight/airline bonus by using a credit card that offers bonus points for shopping in one of those categories (e.g. the card_name), so this is a good opportunity to use a credit card on which you’re working towards a welcome bonus.

If you’re someone who prefers to earn cash back over miles and points, the card_name (2% cash back) is a strong option to use.

Bottom line

Through 31 July 2020 you can buy Choice Privilege points with a 25% discount and convert them to United MileagePlus miles at a ratio of 5:2. Effectively this allows you to buy between 4,000 and 72,000 United miles at just 1.86 cents each and this could represent a very good deal if used correctly.

Click To Buy Choice Points