United Airlines has announced another new promotion on buying miles! Until 27 August 2020, you can get up to 100% bonus United MileagePlus miles with purchases.
Buying United miles during a promotion can be a clever way to save money on future Star Alliance Business and First class flights, as the cost of the miles is often lower than the cost of an equivalent airfare. United MileagePlus miles can be redeemed for premium cabin award flights across the entire Star Alliance network. Plus, there are no fuel surcharges on most United award tickets.
Don’t have any United miles? No problem! You can easily buy United miles online, and the airline even offers regular, generous discounts and bonuses when you purchase miles.
How to Buy United MileagePlus Miles
You can buy MileagePlus miles on the United website. At full price, they are a little pricey at USD35 per thousand. (There is normally a 7.5% US federal excise tax payable in addition to this amount, which is currently not being charged.) But you’ll pay much less than this by buying miles during a promotion!
You must buy at least 2,000 miles per transaction. There is an annual purchase limit of 175,000 miles per account, including bonus miles.
Anyone with a United MileagePlus account can buy miles, but the offers may be targeted. You’ll only receive offers if you’re a United MileagePlus member. So if you haven’t already, make sure you sign up now to avoid missing out on future deals!
Special Deals on Buying United Miles
Promotions typically come around every 1-2 months. It is not uncommon for United to offer up to 100% bonus miles (which is equivalent to a 50% discount)! But many promotions are targeted and some members may receive different offers to others.
United’s most recent promotion offers up to 100% bonus miles on purchases. This offer expires on 27 August 2020 (U.S. Central Time). Here are the typical bonuses on offer in the latest promo:
- Buy 5,000 to 14,000 United miles and get 30% bonus miles
- Buy 15,000 to 40,000 United miles and get 50% bonus miles
- Buy 41,000 to 87,500 United miles and get 100% bonus miles
If you were to purchase the maximum 87,500 United MileagePlus miles during this promotion, you would receive the annual limit of 175,000 miles (including the 100% bonus miles) at a cost of USD3,062.50.
This offer is similar to the promotion in May 2020 which also came with up to 100% bonus miles for purchases above 40,000 miles.
Promotions on buying United miles are discussed on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Bonus United Miles – Up to 100%
Redeeming United Miles
United miles can be redeemed to fly on any Star Alliance airline. These include Thai Airways, Air Canada, Turkish Airlines, ANA, Asiana, Air India, Lufthansa and (of course) United Airlines. Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand are also in Star Alliance. But Air New Zealand rarely releases Business class award availability, and Singapore Airlines premium awards are generally only available on regional flights when booking with United miles. United’s airline partners also include Aer Lingus, Eurowings and Azul.
United previously used a region-based award chart. However, it removed its award charts for itineraries including United-operated award flights in November 2019. In May 2020, it also removed award charts for Star Alliance partner awards without notice. Prices are now dynamic and can vary based on the route, airline and even date of travel.
There is still some consistency in pricing for Star Alliance partner airline awards. But without award charts, pricing is never guaranteed. So, be sure to check the cost and availability of a given redemption before purchasing miles!
Not all United award bookings are great value, but there are several “sweet spots” for Australians:
- Australia to Europe in Business or First Class
- Australia to the Middle East (including Israel) in Business Class
- Australia to North Asia in Business Class
- Flights to most destinations (including Japan and Europe) are cheaper if you depart from the Pacific Islands – even if your flight routes via Australia! This includes departures from Tahiti, Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga.
- Australia to the USA is reasonable value, especially to the east coast which costs the same as travelling to the west coast. But award availability (especially on direct flights between Australia and North America) is limited.
If you book a round-trip award with United, you can also take advantage of the Excursionist Perk. This gives you a free one-way flight within your destination zone, effectively giving you a free stopover.
United is not the only Star Alliance airline to sell miles. Avianca, a South American airline, sells LifeMiles with up to 145% bonus miles available during special promotions. Buying Avianca LifeMiles can work out cheaper than buying United miles for Star Alliance award travel. But redeeming United miles is far easier and less risky! United miles also never expire.
You can also buy Air Canada Aeroplan miles or buy Aegean Miles+Bonus miles. Aegean Airlines, based in Greece, has a competitive award chart. But there is a key limitation – award flights can only have a maximum of one connection (i.e. no more than two flight sectors).
Want to learn more about buying points for cheap premium cabin flights?
Frequent Flyer Solutions offers a comprehensive training program which includes an entire course on buying and redeeming points for discounted premium travel! This course covers 8 frequent flyer programs in detail, including United MileagePlus. View course →