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Over the summer United offered to sell miles for 1.88 cents apiece, I believe for the first time. What’s interesting is that selling miles cheap was the US Airways strategy that came over to American Airlines, and now that former US Airways and American President Scott Kirby is United’s President they’re doing it too.
He knows that the airline is in control of their cost of redemption, and that any miles sold above that cost generates profit.
Even as customers shy away from earning traditional airline miles in the face of competition from proprietary bank currencies and devaluations (United devalued again November 1) they can still sell miles at a profit if they drop the price low enough. They sacrifice margins for volume.
United is offering a ‘mystery discount’ you have to provide your MileagePlus number in order to see.
My offer is a tiered bonus, nearly the same as what was offered over the summer, up to a 100% bonus on purchased miles. Buying 30,000 or more miles gets that 100% bonus and a price including tax of under 1.9 cents.
They’ll let you buy up to 75,000 miles, receiving 150,000:
Remember of course that you may be able to get back the taxes from the IRS as well.
United sells miles via Points.com. That means you won’t get reimbursed for the purchase as a travel credit. And it actually means that Points is taking a cut of the purchase price. (They may also be guaranteeing some minimum sales to United, buying in bulk and reselling at a profit.) United itself is earning meaningfully less than 1.88 cents apiece through this arrangement.
While 1.88 cents is more than United miles are worth the offer can work for you to top off an account, or even buying from zero if you were going to book one of the unique values.