United’s January Buy Miles Offer and Why It Doesn’t Make Any Sense

I value my United Mileage Plus miles highly due to the flexibility of using them for convoluted award trips and because United allows both a stopover & double open jaw on its awards. Also, I love the ability to book these awards on United.com without having to call customer service.


Today, I received an offer from United Airlines to buy miles at 25% discount. (Note that I cannot provide a link because it is personalized with my UA account number)


The price of a mile under this offer is 2.8 cents.


Here’s the reason why this makes no sense. I have written about Award and Premier Accelerators few times. When you buy an award or paid ticket on United.com, you will have then an option to purchase award or premier miles.

United is selling award miles that are tied to ticketed (paid/award doesn’t matter) itineraries currently at 2.1 cents each. What you can do is to purchase a ticket on United.com. Then, just go and access the itinerary, and purchase the number of award miles that United offers.

Per the new legislation, United has to offer you free cancellation within 24 hours of the purchase. So, just buy the miles, wait few hours, and then cancel the ticket. Voila, you have just purchased United award miles at 2.1 cents each.


United’s miles are great for Star Alliance business and first class tickets. The miles are not as cheap as US Airways’ but they are more flexible and you can do the booking online.

Here are the terms and conditions of this targeted offer:

Limited time offer – Buy a minimum of 25,000 miles and get a 25% discount

  • Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT on Jan 21, 2013 for the recipient of this email only

  • 25,000 mile minimum purchase required for this discounted rate and after that miles are available in increments of 1,000

  • Purchase up to 100,000 MileagePlus miles per account per calendar year

  • Credit card will be billed immediately for purchase and purchase is non-refundable

  • Program fees and mileage rates subject to change

  • Allow 48 hours for miles to post to MileagePlus account

  • These miles can only be used for awards and do not count toward Premier® status

  • If you have questions or concerns about this offer, please email custserv@ualmiles.com for assistance

  • All MileagePlus Program Rules and terms and conditions apply