I confess to not usually paying much attention to my United MileagePlus statement when it lands in my inbox. I haven’t flown United with any regularity since the early 2000’s and my mileage balance sits in the low 6,000s so I’m not exactly a big United flyer.
Today, however, I thought I’d check my statement to see if it told me when my miles were due to expire (it may be a tiny mileage balance but I’d still find it galling if I accidentally let the miles expire). While I didn’t find the information I was looking for, I did notice a “mystery offer”.
Nestled between an advert for MileagePlus Shopping and another for hotel & car awards was an invitation to “Get Closer to [my] dream destination”
Clicking through to the offer page it turns out that I’m eligible for a bonus of up to 80% depending on how many miles I want to buy.
The tiers go like this:
- Buy 5,000 to 9,000 miles – 20% bonus
- Buy 10,000 to 39,000 miles – 50% bonus
- Buy 40,000 to 80,000 miles – 80% bonus
The pedant in me wondered what would happen if I were to try and purchase 9,500 miles or 39,500 as United didn’t appear to have thought of this but it turns out you can only purchase miles in increments of 1,000.
So how much would the miles cost me at each tier?
- 5,000 to 9,000 miles – 3.1c/mile
- 10,000 to 39,000 miles – 2.5c/mile
- 40,000 to 80,000 miles – 2.1c/mile
(The above figures include US taxes)
Headline Terms & Conditions:
- The offer ends 14 December 2015
- Purchase up to 150,000 miles per account per calendar year
- Bonus miles count towards the 150,000 mile annual limit per account
- Purchased miles do not count towards MileagePlus Premier status
If you haven’t received your MileagePlus statement yet and want to see if what your targeted offer is try this link to the offer to see what your options are.
Is this a good offer?
I value United miles in the 1.3 cents – 1.4 cents range so for me this isn’t exactly a tempting offer.
If you’re slightly short of the amount of miles you need to get an award, then this may be a good way to top off your account – but I definitely wouldn’t purchase miles speculatively.
Bear in mind that United Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance so you can use you MileagePlus balance to book awards on any Star Alliance Carrier and there are a few good products that are worth considering:
- Lufthansa First Class (One Way) USA – Europe: 110,000 miles ($2,310 using purchased miles at best rate)
- Asiana First Class (One Way) USA – Asia: 120,000 – 130,000 miles ($2,520 – $2,760)
- ANA Business Class (One Way) Europe – Asia: 75,000 – 85,000 miles ($1,575 – $1,785)
- SWISS Business Class (One Way) Europe – Asia: 75,000 – 85,000 miles ($1,575 – $1,785)
Here’s the United Airlines Award Chart for redemptions in Star Alliance Partners (click to enlarge):
To my mind it’s definitely not worth buying the full set of miles for any of the above options (regardless of how good or aspirational they are) but, if you’re topping off an account, they’re great products to try out.