Normally I’d just link to the post where I saw this first (on Loyalty Lobby), but I’d like to explain this a bit more so I’m writing my own full post on it.
If you have an existing award reservation with United Airlines, you have the potential to purchase additional miles through their MileagePlus Award Accelerator program. The amount of points you’re offered will vary, likely based on the award you have booked (should also work for revenue tickets).
How to Get This Deal
1 . Log on to your United Airlines account.
2. In the middle of the screen you’ll see your upcoming reservations. Click “View” on any one of them.
3. Under the details of your reservation will be a “Recommended Add-ons” section with an option to buy miles. Click on “Get Extra Miles.”
4. On the next screen you’ll be able to see your purchase offers/options, which should calculate to 1.9 cents each. The best rate at which to buy United Airlines miles previously was 1.88 cents and that was just a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately that was only available for 3 hours. To make the purchase you’ll need click the button to add your UA MileagePlus number (not sure why it doesn’t add it by default).
For the mathematically challenged, my offer above calculates at $171/9,000 miles =$0.019 or 1.9 cents each. Similarly, $342/18,000 = $0.019 or 1.9 cents each.
Note that the award I have booked cost me 70,000 miles, if anyone happens to be trying to do the math on the purchase offer they receive.
Is 1.9 cents a fantastic deal? It depends. If you’re a few miles away from redeeming your next award and this purchase would get you there, then yes it’s a fantastic deal. If you’re buying miles speculatively with nothing specific in mind, it’s not the best offer. The UA devaluation earlier this year made redemption costs much higher, which means you’d have to buy more miles to get a great award.
To put this into context, flying Business Class from the US to Europe would cost 115K round trip if flown on UA metal. If you purchased all these miles at 1.9 cents each, it would cost you $2,185 for that trip. Flying on a Star Alliance partner would cost you 140K round trip, or $2,660. Still very expensive, but also a lot less than a Business Class ticket usually costs if purchased with cash.
I will not be buying miles at this rate because I have no need for them right now. I prefer to use other programs (like LifeMiles) to redeem Star Alliance awards, and those miles can often be purchased cheaply. Note you can still buy LifeMiles for a 100% bonus. And you can always manufacture miles for a third of the price, if those MS options are available to you.
Note that you can buy refundable tickets to get offers like this as well, and then refund those tickets. The miles you buy through the accelerator are NOT refundable, so you get to keep them.