Through 11:59PM CDT on Thursday, March 14, 2013, United is offering up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of MileagePlus miles. If you buy fewer than 50,000 miles you get a 25% bonus, while if you buy 50,000 or more miles you get a 40% bonus.
If you purchase at least 50,000 miles you’re looking at a cost of about 2.25 cents per mile including all taxes.
That’s about as cheap as you’ll ever see United miles for sale. Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transferred to United MileagePlus, can be purchased in small quantities (less than 5,000 points per month) for 2.5 cents each, so this is an even lower rate than that.
So is it worth taking advantage of this promotion, especially when US Airways frequently sells miles for 1.88 cents each?
My usual answer is “yes, if you have a specific use in mind, probably not if you don’t.” But I’ll take a slightly different approach today, because I’m feeling a bit cheeky. I’ll say yes if you have a specific use in mind and the numbers work out, yes if you have a semi-near term use in mind and wouldn’t otherwise have enough miles, and no just speculatively.
You can redeem 70,000 MileagePlus miles for first class from Los Angeles to Bangkok via Frankfurt and Tokyo, and there’s just not really any other award value out there that’s quite as lucrative. US Airways will be leaving the Star Alliance soon and blocks Lufthansa first class anyway, so this is about the more economical way to book Lufthansa first class without fuel surcharges.
It’s also worth noting that United processes points purchases directly and not through points.com. This means if you use a credit card that earns bonus points on airfare, you’d earn the associated bonus points with this purchase as well. For example the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card earns triple points on airfare, so this purchase would be eligible.