For example you can buy 65K Choice points for $550 after the 30% bonus.
You’ll need a Choice Privileges account to buy points.
It will take a day for the points to show up in your Choice account.
You need to set your extra preferences and your loyalty programs here to earn Choice points in order to be able to transfer points into miles.
Normally Choice points transfer into airline miles at a 5,000:1,000 ratio.
However until 11/30 you can transfer points from Choice to United at a 5,000:2,500 ratio, a 150% bonus from the normal transfer ratio.
Additionally, until 11/30 you can register here for a 30% bonus when you transfer hotel points to United miles, up a maximum of 25K bonus United miles. That makes the transfer ratio 5,000:3,250.
Of course if you’re already maxing out the transfer via Marriott/Starwood then this deal won’t work for you.
Normally 65K Choice points would get you 13K United miles. With the increased ratio on Choice’s end you’ll get 32,500 United miles. Those miles will post within a day of the transfer.
Additionally, United will add a 30% bonus by 1/30/18, making the transfer 65K Choice points for 42,250 United miles after United adds 9,750 bonus miles in January. (You will still be eligible for another 15,250 bonus United miles from any hotel points source from the 30% bonus that United will add for transfers through 11/30.)
That means you’ll get about 42,800 miles (42,250 United miles plus at least 550 credit card miles for the points purchase) for $550. That’s like paying 1.285 cents per mile.
If you wanted to buy 42K miles from United it would cost a whopping $1,580!
Is it worth paying 1.285 cents per mile? It all depends on what you’ll do with the miles.
If you need the miles to redeem for an award it’s definitely worthwhile.
A nice benefit of redeeming miles is that you are not subject to basic economy restrictions. Plus it’s cheaper to change or cancel an award ticket than a paid ticket.
One great United bargain that is going away on 11/1 is a ticket from South Asia (Hong Kong/Singapore/Thailand/etc) to Australia/New Zealand for 17.5K miles in coach, 30K miles in business, or 40K miles in first class. This would cost $492 in coach, $1,744 in business, or $3,115 in first. If you’re buying miles at 1.285 cents each and paying $47.30 tax that’s like paying $272 in coach, $432 in business, or $561 in first class with a free hour-long massage in the Bangkok lounge. Your miles will effectively be worth 2.54 cents each if you redeem for coach, 5.65 cents in business, or 7.67 cents in first class.
Another nice benefit of miles is that you can use them for one-way tickets, which can be expensive if you only need to go one-way.
For example a one-way flight from San Francisco to Tel Aviv on 12/31 would set you back a whopping $3,724 in coach or $7,896 in business class:
Or you can use 42.5K miles in coach or 70K miles in business class. (Business class will go up to 75K on 11/1.) If you’re buying miles at 1.285 cents each and paying $5.60 tax that’s like paying $551 in coach or $905 in business. Your miles will effectively be worth 8.76 cents each if you redeem for coach or 11.27 cents in business:
If you need a last minute business class flight from Newark to LA tomorrow you would have to cough up $3,219 for the last business class seat on the plane:
But United cardholders can book the last business class seat for 50K miles. If you’re buying miles at 1.285 cents each and paying $5.60 tax that’s like paying $648. Your miles will effectively be worth 6.4 cents each:
Of course it doesn’t make sense to buy miles in all scenarios. But at this rate it can definitely make sense.