Buying Miles – United Award Accelerator

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There is a 30% discount on buying United Miles which brings the purchase price down to 2.63 cents per mile, but is it worth it?

I mentioned yesterday that there was an award accelerator option that was cheaper to buy miles. It usually is.

Here is how it works:

a close-up of a tower

Usually all itineraries that have a United segment and can be added to your reservations will work. What award accelerator is basically multiply the BIS miles that you’re accumulating with the itinerary. So if your itinerary is 5,000 miles then you’re given an option to buy 5,000 miles (so doubling your miles) or 10,000 miles (tripling your miles). It will work even if you’re not accumulating redeemable miles (RDM). For example, I have a US Airways award on my account and it will still give you the option.

You can look at this option when you’re managing your reservation. It should be under recommended addons.

a screenshot of a computer

Get more miles

Then you are given the option to buy Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM) and Redeemable miles. I have no interest in qualifying for 1k at 9.5 cents per mile, so focus on the cheaper price. On this itinerary (which is one-half of a US Airways Award HKG-SIN-NRT-ORD-YVR), I’ve given the option to buy 12,969 miles for $273, and 25,938 miles for $545. This works out to be approximately 2.10 cents per mile and that means this is way cheaper than buying miles directly from United.

a screenshot of a web page

Options to buy miles

What are the tradeoffs? The fact that you can only buy the number of miles that your itinerary is for and that you need to have a reservation on united. But both of those are negligible for me, so that’s why my value of United miles is capped at 2.1 cents per mile. With shorter itineraries, it will give you a higher price per mile so keep that in mind. But for me buying miles at the price is as easy as buying a refundable ticket and clicking a few buttons for five minutes. If you want a specific amount of miles then buy a itinerary that is a specific length.

I would say at this price I am hesitant to not buy any miles, because that means two long-haul LH F segments plus a TG/OZ/NH short-haul segment is just around $1550. Definitely before you buy consider what you’re going to use these miles for and whether there’s a cheaper alternative as the purchase is nonrefundable. But it’s certainly an option to keep in mind when you want LH F and no nasty YQ with Aeroplan.

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  1. I’m completely new to UA but scored a status match from AA for 1K status. I need to complete 35,000 miles by mid July to keep the status. Does the award accelerator PQM option mean I could buy a 17,500 mile itinerary and then buy (at – what? 9.5 cents per mile) the remaining required miles for the match? Expensive, but convienent, and of course too good to be true, so these purchased miles must not qualify.

  2. UA Award Accelerator is nearly always to best route for buying UA miles rather than the lame “sales.” And 2.1 cpm is indeed a very good deal for those looking to fly premium international classes or needing a close-in or flexible domestic ticket.

  3. @BillH – it does not count. I just completed a status match earlier this year and was told only flown miles on United metal count.

  4. Good info, but Ultimate Rewards points are the easiest to get and are not worth 2.1 cents each to me. Sign up for Chase sapphire preferred, ink bold, ink plus, and you are at 140K.

  5. Huh. I’m Platinum on UA. They’ve got my number. I’ve got an AWARD itinerary booked on UA. 4680 miles according to the WebFlyer calculator. Before I add my UA member number to the screen I see an offer to buy 4,676 miles for $136 or 9,352 miles for $272. These are both 2.9 cents per mile. After I add my UA number it jumps to 10,000 miles for $290 or 15,000 for $435. Still 2.9 cents per mile. I’m not seeing anything for 2.1 cents.

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