United Airlines is running a short, five-day sale when you purchase miles by September 29. Although United miles are normally a horrible purchase decision at 3.5 cents per mile, the bonus can make it worthwhile. I personally value United miles between 1.7 and 2 cents per mile. More expensive first class awards on partner airlines mean I now only consider using them for international business class.
The bonus is not targeted but does kick in at different amounts depending on the size of your purchase. You must also factor in the 7.5% tax on mileage purchases. I’ve done that for you below. You’re still not going to get as low as my preferred 2.0 CPM valuation, but it might be good enough if you need to top up an existing balance or if you have a specific redemption in mind. Buying miles is often cheaper than booking a long-haul business class award, especially since United does not collect fuel surcharges on any of its awards.
- 2,000 to 4,000 miles: no bonus (3.5 CPM)
- 5,000 to 19,000 miles: 25% bonus (3.01 CPM)
- 20,000 to 29,000 miles: 50% bonus (2.51 CPM)
- 30,000 to 85,000 miles: 75% bonus (2.15 CPM)
Buying miles isn’t the only way to increase your MileagePlus account balance. You can also transfer points from Ultimate Rewards. However, there are many other good Ultimate Rewards partners including Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Korean Air SKYPASS, and so on. I wouldn’t make a transfer to United until after comparing my redemption options through other loyalty programs.