United Airlines has introduced yet another way to redeem points: buying digital media. The new store allows program members to redeem their points for music or movies; TV shows will be coming this fall. The program is only available to members residing in the United States.
The selection appears reasonably broad, though I will be the first to admit I don’t really know much about what’s happening these days in the music world so it might not actually be all that broad a library. And the prices aren’t completely unreasonable, though they certainly aren’t all that great, either. Here are a few price shots from the generic interface.
I checked Amazon.com for the Walk the Moon album and found it available for $2.99. Planet Pit is running $9.99 and the singles are mostly running $0.99-1.29. Sherlock Holmes was available for $3.99 on a 48 hour rental or $14.99 to buy.
So at those rates it isn’t really a very good deal, but for a small balance of orphaned miles it is probably better than nothing.
What was particularly interesting is that the pricing can vary depending on the customer. When I logged in with my MileagePlus account information the prices changed in my favor.
Apparently elite status is worth just under 20% off for the digital library. Still not a great value at all, but marginally better.
Nice that there are more options for redeeming points. I’m sure that there are some folks who will see value in this, either for finishing off a balance or just because they have too many points to use them all. And it isn’t nearly as bad as some of the auctions that have happened in the past. Still, not a great value if you actually care about travel. And if you don’t there are better credit card options for earning cash back rather than points so you can still get rewards like this for less.
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