United Reducing the Miles from Flying, Will Sell Them To You Instead (With 40% Discount)

United is cutting back on the overall total miles they’re awarding for flying starting March 2015 with their new revenue-based earning structure.

They don’t want to spend as much marketing their flights anymore, with the economy strong. (Plus, they really really want to be like Delta, Delta has announced they’re doing this, and Delta didn’t lose $600 million last quarter. It’s the Underpants Gnome theory of running an airline and a mileage program.)

But it isn’t that they don’t want as many miles out there, as some commenters have suggested (‘this will make getting awards easier, so it’s responsible’).

They just want you or their marketing partners to buy the miles. In fact, they’ll sell the miles to you at a 40% discount through Monday (June 16).

    I don’t know about you, but buying miles from United isn’t how I’m jumpstarting my summer.

It’s still not a good deal, of course, because the ‘retail’ price of MileagePlus miles is set too high.

Even with a 40% discount United still wants ~ 2.26 cents a mile including taxes and fees.

It wasn’t worth this price even before the devaluation that went into effect in February. I don’t see it as worth it now.

That said, you could find this useful specifically to top off towards an award you’re looking to book now rather than waiting to earn miles more cheaply from another source and especially if you don’t have Chase points to transfer in. But I wouldn’t buy miles speculatively with this offer.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I agree fully – even with a 40% discount UA MP Miles are expensive.
    Better to sign up for the Chase Ink Biiz Credit Cards and, besides the 50k sign-up bonus, spend this week like many of us MSers – harvesting ALL office supply box stores for Amex Gift cards for less than free!!…and the 5x UR rewards points. UR points are transferable for free into your UA MP account for future travel.

  2. Gary, at about how many cents per mile do you think it’s worth to buy miles WITHOUT having an immediate trip planned?

  3. I’m not a buyer of US Airways miles at 1.8 cents, I am a buyer at 1.2 cents.

    Each mileage currency is different, and as I’ve written before it depends on how many miles you have and your likely uses of those miles.

    But in general I’m a buyer at 1.3 cents and inclined to buy up to around 1.5 cents tops.

  4. I have never seen miles at 1.2 cents. If you purchase 150k united miles, isnt this a deal to redeem for first class awards? What am i missing.

  5. @Craig US Airways regularly has sold miles at 1.2 cents via their share miles 100% bonus promos. But there have been plenty of opportunities to generate miles for less!

  6. Wait… This is more expensive than the award miles maximiser, even at 40% off?! With the maximiser, the cost is about 2.1 while this is 2.26

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