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United has been running its Black Friday mileage sale since Wednesday and, as a lot of us expected, it’s a slightly better promotion than the sale it was offering up until last week. The sale ends tonight so you have just a few hours left to make the most of the 100% bonus and a re-increased annual cap if you need to top up a MileagePlus account.
Warning: The landing page for the promotion may suggest that the best bonus on offer is just 85%. This is incorrect as it’s still showing the bonus that was on offer in the previous sale. Once you’re logged in you should see the 100% bonus that’s available through Friday.
- Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT on November 27, 2020.
- Bonus miles count toward the 225,000-mile annual limit per account.
- You may purchase up to 225,000 miles per account per calendar year.
- 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.
- Bonuses will be calculated on a per transaction basis only.
- 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.
Full terms and conditions can be found on the promotion page.
The Bonus Tiers
There are four tiers in this flash sale:
- Buy 2,000 miles – Get no bonus
- Buy 3,000 – 14,000 miles – Get a 30% bonus
- Buy 15,000 – 34,000 miles – Get a 60% bonus
- Buy 35,000 – 112,000 miles* – Get a 100% bonus
*This means that the maximum number of miles that can be purchased has been increased from 175,000 to 224,000. This is the same cap that we saw in October.
Within each bonus band, the price per MileagePlus mile remains the same which means that whether you buy 35,000 miles…
…or the full 112,000 miles…
…you’ll be buying miles at the lowest cost available which, in this sale, is 1.75 cents/mile.
Should You Buy United Miles In This Sale?
At 1.75 cents/mile, this is as low as we ever see United selling its currency.
How good or bad this sale is will vary based on what each person’s needs are and, more importantly, if awards are actually available to book and if you’re allowed to fly to wherever it is that you’d like to visit.
United no longer publishes award charts and awards are now pricing dynamically 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 (1.75 cents), that award would cost ~ $2,100. That’s not a bad price for a Business Class fare but it’s also not fantastic considering we’ve seen a few transatlantic cash Business Class fares that are cheaper than this.
Better value may be found when buying miles for transpacific travel (routes which are usually considerably more expensive in Business Class than transatlantic routes) or, considering how few international options are open to US travelers right now, when booking domestic premium cabin fares on traditionally expensive routes (e.g. to/from Hawaii).
United sells its miles through Points.com 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. What this means is that this is a good opportunity to use a credit card on which you’re working towards a welcome bonus (e.g. the greatly improved bonus on the Amex Platinum Card)…
…or to use the excellent Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express which will earn you 2 points/dollar (up to $50,000 in spending per year).
If miles and points aren’t what you’re looking to earn right now and cash back is more appealing, the new and fantastic Chase Freedom Flex Card would be a good option to use.
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 that awards are available, you can check the cost of flights and, by comparing the two, you can make an informed decision. At 1.75 cents/mile, there will be some good deals on offer…you’ll just have to have the patience to look for them.