Deals and Miles for Cell Phones

United has been emailing out news of its new mileage for cell phone service partnership, Mileage Plus Wireless.

The deals aren’t bad, they’re certainly better than what it seems you’ll get direct from the cell phone provider (either online or in-store), and you earn miles to boot.

However, even with the miles the offers aren’t up to par with some of the independent websites out there such as Amazon,, and

I’m not a cell phone expert to be sure, but I’m moving and my new place really only gets reasonable reception with Cingular. I’ve been with SprintPCS for 10 years but their coverage is spotty in my area, and they don’t offer a Blackberry (my preference over the Treo).

So I checked out Amazon and their offers were good enough, but they don’t support number portability. Not going to work for me.

Mileage Plus Wireless supports porting cell numbers, but the Blackberry 8700c was a couple hundred bucks more expensive than Amazon. Better than, but not good enough to satisfy and I found better Blackberry plans elsewhere.

I ultimately bought without miles from They have a $30 cashback offer via eBates (plus $5, of course, if it’s your first ebates purchase) and their pricing was superior.

They offer the Blackberry 8700c free after rebate with 2 year contract and $45/month Blackberry unlimited data plan (or $180 with no rebate required with $29.95 Blackberry unlimited personal plan which doesn’t support Blackberry Enterprise Server).

Amazon and Mileage Plus Wireless don’t offer the less expensive Blackberry plan. Cingular wanted $5/month more for it.

And LetsTalk is porting my numbers.

(Oh, and I actually got a 3rd phone free with the deal as well.)

Now, I’m going with the less expensive Blackberry plan (I’m paying $360 upfront for the two Blackberries but saving $720 in plan costs over 2 years), so I didn’t explicitly verify that the rebates would be available if porting numbers, so if that’s something you have in mind you’ll want to check that. No worries, while I couldn’t find mention of it on the website LetsTalk also allows you to complete your order by phone without any difficulty though this likely eliminates your ability to claim the $30 eBates credit.

Update: I was looking specifically for Cingular service, and Amazon can’t port numbers to Cingular. That’s what led me to believe they didn’t port numbers. Turns out they can transfer numbers to other service providers.

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, 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. Speaking of cellular and international travel…(you weren’t, but this may be worth noting for some)

    I travel overseas all the time. Before broadband was “the norm”, many of us used our cell as a modem, and with companies such as Earthlink providing local access numbers in various countries, it was quite easy to connect to the Internet for e-mail and surfing. The big problem was the outrageous roaming fees charged by most North American companies. In Europe and the Pacific Rim, where mobile technology is far more prevalent (and superior, I must say), and things like “free incoming” calls are the norm, to use a North American carrier seemed to be expensive. I began early on, to “unlock” my cell phone, much to the chagrin of my North American carrier. There are several bonuses to this.

    Even though one must change SIM cards wherever they go, a local mobile number in a particular country is great for one’s clients, and for making those local calls to airlines, restaurant reservations, etc. Plus…one can be selective to who, in North America, has your overseas number, thus eliminating copious phone calls from home base.

    Now I have an arsenal of SIM cards for wherever I go…most are Pay-As-You-Go plans, so it’s easy to manage. Until the North American cellular market sees that it doesn’t have a monopoly, and also that it isn’t on the cutting edge of providing service, this seems to be a cost effective, client honoring way to go.

    Really appreciate you site, and the info. Fantastic stuff! Thanks!

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