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United MileagePlus is offering up to a 100% bonus on purchased miles through 11:59PM CT on Thursday, July 26, 2018. At least I believe that’s the promotion everyone is eligible for, though I can’t be sure, since you have to log-in before they’ll show you your bonus (that’s the bonus I see for all the accounts I manage).
Clearly there’s a mistake with their “clock,” because it shows 10 days remaining in the promotion, which doesn’t match the promotion terms.
This is as good as bonuses on purchased United miles get, as I don’t ever recall seeing a bigger offer from them (though they have occasionally offered similar bonuses in the past).
The promotion is tiered, and you earn a bigger bonus the more miles you buy, as follows:
- Buy 5,000-14,000 miles, get a 30% bonus
- Buy 15,000-29,000 miles, get a 70% bonus
- Buy 30,000-75,000 miles, get a 100% bonus
If you max out this promotion you can purchase a total of 150,000 United MileagePlus miles at a cost of $2,821.88, which is ~1.88 cents per mile.
A member can purchase at most 150,000 miles per year (including any bonuses), and it can take up to 48 hours for purchased miles to post to your account. Personally I value MileagePlus miles at ~1.3 cents each, though there are ways to get more value out of them than that. I wouldn’t recommend proactively picking up MileagePlus miles for ~1.88 cents each, but with a specific use in mind it could make sense to buy miles.
You can find the United MileagePlus interactive award chart here, for a sense of how many miles a redemption will cost.
If you’re looking to earn United miles, MileagePlus is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so you can convert Ultimate Rewards points into United miles at a 1:1 ratio. This is a great use of points earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, and would be my preferred way to accrue United miles.
United mileage purchases are processed by points.com, so buying miles wouldn’t qualify as airfare spend. If you do buy miles, you’ll first want to use a credit card where you’re meeting minimum spend, and then use a card that maximizes your return on everyday, non-bonused spend.
Do you plan on buying United miles with a 100% bonus?
(Tip of the hat to @josh_sux)