Purchased Miles

United Miles Mystery Sale

From now through November 20th, United is offering targeted, tiered discounts on purchased miles. To see what your personal offer is, log into your account on United.com and hover over MileagePlus.

From there click on Buy, Transfer or Give Miles and you’ll be taken to this screen.

Click on the Reveal Now button, which will bring up a pop-up window for you to enter your MileagePlus number (again) and your last name. Enter that info and the next screen will show you your targeted bonus.

Mine will allow a bonus of up to 100% if I buy 30K-75K miles. United allows up to 150K miles to be purchased in a calendar year.

The drop-down menu shows the base cost of each increment of 1000 miles from 1000 to 75,000. Selecting one of the entries will then cause the calculator on the right side of the page to display the full purchase price including the taxes.

Buying 75K miles has a base purchase price of $2625. So getting 150K points for that price brings the price-per-point down to 1.75 cents each before tax. Since taxes are almost $197, that raises the price to 1.88 cents apiece.

Is it worth it?

It all depends on your needs, of course. If you’re looking to top off your miles to reach a specific award, then it might indeed be worth it. But if you’re looking to buy miles speculatively, then no, it’s probably not worth it. As noted above, the best-case scenario is about 1.88 cents apiece. Ben at One Mile At A Time values United miles at 1.4 cents each while Brian, the Points Guy, says they’re worth 1.5 cents apiece.

So I’ll be sitting this one out since I don’t have an immediate need.

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Alaska Airlines Mystery Miles Sale

2015-11-14 Alaska Mystery BonusAlaska Airlines is offering a mystery bonus when you buy miles. The bonus amount varies by individual. I got the most generous bonus:

  • Buy 10,000-19,000 miles, get a 20% bonus
  • Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get a 35% bonus
  • Buy 40,000-60,000 miles, get a 50% bonus

With the 20% bonus that’s 2.29 cents per mile. With the 35% bonus that’s 2.037 cents per mile and with the 50% bonus it’s 1.83 cents per mile. Ben of One Mile At A Time values Alaska miles at 1.6 cents each while Brian, The Points Guy, values them at 2 cents apiece. That could make it worth your while to buy points, especially if you already have a use for them in mind.

What if you don’t live anywhere near Alaska? Not to worry, they have lots of partner airlines, despite not being part of a global alliance. Domestically they team with both Delta and American. Internationally you can use Alaska miles on AeroMexico, Air France, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Hainan Airlines, Icelandair, KLM, Korean Air, LAN and Qantas.

Note that purchases are processed by Points.com and as such do not count as airline spend for your credit cards.  There is also a 7.5% Federal Excise Tax and GST/HST for Canadian residents.

So if you want to be like Jennifer Anniston and fly the first class with the bling and take a shower on board, you can use Alaska miles on Emirates to do just that!

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Bonus When Buying AAdvantage Miles

From now through September 3rd, American Airlines is offering a bonus when you buy or gift miles.

Since these purchases are processed directly by the airline, if you use one of the Citibank AA credit cards or one of the Barclays AA cards they’ll count as airline purchases and you’ll earn additional miles for your purchase.  You could also use the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card or Citi Prestige Card where you’d earn 3 Membership Rewards or Thank You Points per dollar spent and if you haven’t used your airline credit for the year,  it should apply as well!

Here is this discount chart:

2015-08-11 AA Buy Miles PromoIs it a good deal?  Not particularly.  Unsurprisingly the best deal is if you buy the most miles.  But if you haven’t used your airline credit for the year and have no plans to do so, why not buy the miles and get a $100 (Amex Gold) or $250 (Citi Prestige) discount?!


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Bonus on Purchased US Airways Dividend Miles

2014-12-06 Dividend Miles Sale

Now through January 2, 2015 you get bonus miles when you buy US Airways Dividend miles. The bonus miles varies depending on how much you buy. If you max it out and buy 80,000 miles, you’ll get a 45,000 mile bonus for a total of 125,000 miles. For a cost of $2360, that comes out to 1.8 cents per point. That sounds like a decent deal when you consider that Ben values these miles at 1.6 cents each while Brian values them at 1.9 cents apiece. However, when you add in the taxes and fees, the actual cost is $2572 or 2.06 cents per point. Not such a great deal – unless you just need a few miles to top off an award. If you’re going to get a better value than that – then go for it! Also remember that purchased miles are processed by Points.com and therefore do not earn any airline bonus category miles on your credit card.

Remember that in the second quarter of next year Dividend Miles will be converted at a 1:1 ratio to American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

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Bonus on Purchased Alaska Air Miles


Now through October 14th you can earn up to a 40% bonus on purchased Alaska Air miles. The bonuses are tiered:
Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles, get a 20% Bonus (2.29 cents apiece)
Buy 20,000 – 34,000 miles, get a 30% Bonus (2.115 cents apiece)
Buy 35,000 – 40,000 miles, get a 40% Bonus (1.96 cents apiece)

Normally Alaska miles cost 2.75 cents apiece.

Is it worth it to buy them? Not speculatively. A couple of bloggers (One Mile At A Time, The Points Guy) who publish their point valuations rate these points at 1.8 to 2 cents apiece. So if you’re going to buy them without a current purpose, buy at least 35,000 miles. But if you only need a few miles to top off an award, it may very well be worth buying even a few thousand points.

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