Is a 40% Bonus when Buying United Miles a Good Deal?

We all know that you can earn airlines miles by flying and with credit card spend, but what happens if you’re just a few miles short for your dream vacation? Airlines will happily sell you miles at a ridiculously bad rate, but if you’re really close to what you need for your trip, it might make sense.

Currently, through October 14th, United is offering a 40% bonus when you buy miles. You’ve got to buy at least 5,000 and can buy up to 175,000 miles with the promotion. That’s a TON of miles right? And a bonus is always good, right? Well… is it? We’ll look at the logistics and see if it makes sense.

United Buy Miles Promotion

20/30/40% Bonus

Depending on how many miles you purchase, your bonus will increase.

  • 5000-14000 miles, 20% bonus
  • 15000-29000 miles, 30% bonus
  • 30,000-178,000 miles, 40% bonus

But, how much is a mile? What’s the true cost? We’ve give you two examples to chew on and see if it makes sense

30,000 miles – Domestic Travel

Let’s look at the 30,000 mile example. 30,000 is more than enough to get a round trip ticket in the continental United States. With this, you’d get a total of 42,000 miles. The final cost? $1,128.75. That’s 2.67 cents a mile, a pretty high cost. For me, a good deal is anything between 1.5-2 cents a mile.

And just think about it. If a round trip ticket costs 25,000 miles, you’re getting almost two tickets here for around $1100. That sounds like a really REALLY bad deal, one that I certainly wouldn’t buy.

Buy Miles Example 1

178,000 miles – International Business Class

But you know in this blog we like to do things in style. With that said, buying 178,000 miles and getting a bonus should be enough to get a couple of tickets round trip in business class, right? So, what’s that cost?!

178,000 miles plus the 40% bonus will net you 249,200 miles. More than enough for two round trip business class tickets to Europe. The cost? $6,697.25. Nearly Seven THOUSAND dollars.

Buy Miles Example 2

If you’re a fan of this blog then you know we routinely post about cheap business class fares. Some of the most recent examples included:

So knowing that, does it make sense to spend almost $7,000 for two tickets in Business Class? HECK NO!

Buy? Don’t Buy?

If you’ve got 20,000 miles and you need 5,000 miles for a free trip, go for it.

If you’ve got 40,000 miles and you need 17,500 more to get to Europe in Business Class, by all means.

If you’re looking to use these miles are your primary method to score a deal on a ticket, just walk away.

Alternatively, if you want a credit card to get you a HUGE signup bonus (50/60/70,000 points or more) just click below. 

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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