30% off buy miles deals with United and American (and a short write-up on buying miles)

I received two 30% off buy miles promos in my email that I wanted to share. In case any one is a frequent flyer miles junkie like me, but is just a bit short of some miles to book an upcoming trip, it may be worthwhile for you to buy into these deals.



The United Airlines dealclick here for the link

United buy miles deal

  • This offer is only available via the links provided on United Social Media sites (follow United on Facebook and you’ll be all set)
  • Discount can be used multiple times while the promotion is valid
  • These miles can only be used for awards and do not count toward Premier® status
  • Total cost will include a 7.5% federal excise tax
  • You can purchase up to 100,000 award miles per calendar year per account
  • A minimum purchase of 5,000 award miles per account is required for this offer
  • Miles are available in increments of 1,000 miles
  • Allow 48 hours for miles to process and post to your MileagePlus account
  • Miles are nonrefundable
  • Promotional offer valid until 11:59 p.m. CT on May 20, 2013


The American Airlines deal – click here for the link

American buy miles deal

  • Earn up to 30% bonus miles when you buy 20,000 or more miles through May 17.
  • AAdvantage members must purchase between 20,000 and 29,000 AAdvantage miles in a single transaction from the buyAAmiles® program to be eligible to earn 5,000 bonus miles.
  • Members must purchase between 30,000 and 39,000 AAdvantage miles in a single transaction to be eligible to earn 8,250 bonus miles.
  • Members must purchase 40,000 or more miles in a single transaction to be eligible to earn 12,000 bonus miles.
  • The bonus mile amount applies only to AAdvantage miles purchased and does not apply towards taxes or the $35 transaction processing fee.


With the United deal, you get to see the discount/bonus at any batch above 5,000 miles which is the minimum you can buy with this deal, whereas with the American deal, you will not receive the bonus until after you purchase 20,000 miles.

With the American deal, the cost of acquiring 25,000 miles (20,000 + 5,000 bonus) becomes $550 versus the normal $687.50, and so on and so forth.


My history with buying miles
I generally do not buy miles often as I do not find the value to be very worth it above a certain threshold (which would be different for everyone). As a Management Consultant, I fly domestically for work every week so I get to rack up miles pretty quickly, especially as I have high enough status to receive 100% bonus miles on almost all the airlines I fly. However, sometimes, I do fall short of an award that I’d like to redeem and have to buy miles to replenish.

For instance, for my recent mileage redemption on my trip to Buenos Aires, it was cheaper for me to use my miles to book my return ticket rather than pay cash, but I was 3500 miles short of the 30,000 miles I needed for the ticket. So I bought 4000 United miles for $150.50 (you can only buy in blocks of 1,000). However, with this deal, I would have received 5,000 miles for that same $150.50. And even though I only needed 3500, I would have had 1,500 towards my next award, rather than 500. Every mile counts! 😀

I typically find United and American to have the best redemption value for award tickets for so many reasons, including the ability to redeem for one-way awards (which comes in very handy for my travel patterns), so it’s not a bad idea to build up for a rainy day, if it makes sense.


When does it make sense?
Here’s a Consulting-esque response: It’s going to vary for everyone.
For someone short about 5,000 miles of an award redemption, you will pay $150.50 with this deal rather than the $188.13 it would normally cost. Hey, $37.63 savings is not too shabby! Every dollar counts. That’s 3 extra margaritas or a lengthier massage you can have on the beach at your destination! 😀 If I were in this boat, I would buy the miles asap.

Who doesn't enjoy massages on the beach?
Who doesn’t enjoy massages on the beach? :)

I may even buy up to 10,000 United miles for $301 with this deal. Thats about 3 cents a piece per mile, whereas, 10,000 miles would have cost $376.25 at the normal rate. I am contemplating this as I am short on an award I am trying to redeem to Europe, though I am weighing my options and really evaluating if that is the best value for my money + miles.

Where buying miles starts to make less sense for my flying style, however, is the higher thresholds, such as buying 20,000 miles, which with the United deal comes to $526.75 and with the American deal will come up to $550 (though you will get 25,000 miles instead of 20,000). Technically, 20,000 miles standalone gets you a short-haul domestic economy saver award round trip ticket at best, say Chicago to Washington D.C. Yet, I have never seen a Chicago to D.C. ticket cost $526.75 or $550, except maybe it’s very very last minute and there’s absolutely no other airlines flying at all, then maybe it could climb that high… but even so, I just costed out an itinerary leaving ORD tomorrow, going to IAD and the highest I am getting is $465.

In some instances, buying 20,000 miles may be worth it for some. For example, you may be trying to redeem a business class award on United or United’s partners from New York to South Africa, which costs 120,000 at the lowest. If you have decided you must fly business class, and you only have 100,000 miles in your account, then buying the 20,000 miles for $526.75 would make sense for you, rather than paying over $4,000 to buy this ticket in cash (no miles used).

But that’s only if you must fly business class. Otherwise, economy class tickets on that same route will run you about 80,000 miles (at the lowest) or about $1450 to buy it outright.


All in all, this may be a good deal for some and not so much for others. It’s going to vary based on your flying style, your near term needs and your cash or mileage availability.

If you are unsure how many miles are needed for your travels, use the Award charts as a guide: click here for United’s and click here for American’s.

Hope someone is able to get some value out of it. Happy travels! :)

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