While United often sells miles at a discount, rarely does it represent a good deal. At the moment there’s a promotion that can generate you United MileagePlus miles for under 1.5 cents each, in the right increments.
Buy United Miles For 1.47 Cents Each
There are two promotions that can be stacked to get a better deal on purchased United miles:
- Marriott is selling Bonvoy points for 30% off (buy Marriott Bonvoy points here)
- United is offering a 30% bonus when you convert hotel points into MileagePlus miles
Step One: Buy Marriott Points For 0.875 Cents Each
Through October 18, 2019, Marriott Bonvoy is offering a 30% discount on purchased points when you buy at least 2,000 points in one transaction.
With this promotion Marriott is also doubling the cap on how many points you can buy — while the limit is usually 50,000 points, you can buy 100,000 points with this promotion.
Note that if you buy over 50,000 points you need to do so in two separate transactions, as there’s a limit to each transaction of 50,000 points.
Ordinarily Marriott Bonvoy charges 1.25 cents per purchased point, so through this promotion you’re potentially looking at paying just 0.875 cents per point.
If you want to get the best deal on United miles you’ll want to have your Marriott Bonvoy account balance be in increments of 60,000 points (whether that’s 60,000 points total, 120,000 points, 180,000 points, etc.).
For example, you could purchase 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for $525.
Step Two: Transfer Marriott Points To United With 30% Bonus
Marriott Bonvoy points convert into MileagePlus miles at a 3:1 ratio, and you get a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 points.
With United it gets even better than that, though, thanks to a special partnership between Marriott and United. With this you get a 10% bonus when you convert Marriott points into United miles, meaning that you get 27,500 United miles per 60,000 Marriott points.
That’s before you factor in this promotion. Once you factor in this promotion you’d receive a total of 35,750 United miles per 60,000 Marriott points.
To crunch the numbers, you could buy 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for $525. Then those would convert into 35,750 MileagePlus miles when you factor in the 10% and 30% bonus.
In the end you’re earning 35,750 MileagePlus miles for $525, which is a cost of 1.47 cents per MileagePlus mile.
Is 1.49 cents per United mile a rate at which everyone should be picking up miles? No, probably not. However, this is lower than the cost at which United ever sells miles directly (at least in the past couple of years).
Furthermore, when United does sell miles at a discount, you almost always have to buy lots of miles to get the lowest cost, while this is a reasonable cost at which you can top off an account when you’re not looking for that many miles.
Just keep in mind that MileagePlus miles are fairly easy to come by, given that United is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. See this post for the best credit cards for earning United miles.