Buying miles at the regular rates is rarely a great proposition. But when the airlines put them on sale – usually in the form of bonus miles earnt rather than reduced prices – the proposition can become a bit more compelling. When three different programs all offer a 100% bonus opportunity at the same time that’s, well, at least mildly entertaining.
Avianca’s LifeMiles and US Airways Dividend Miles both have a month-long promo for a straight-up 100% bonus when buying miles. Neither of these deals is particularly rare (both programs have run similar every few months going back a while now) but in many cases these rates are far better than what you’ll otherwise get for accruing the miles and they can make a premium cabin trip reasonably affordable. The US Airways deal maxes out at 100,000 points per account and prices at 1.75cpm. The LifeMiles deal tops out at 150,000 points per account at a rate of 1.77cpm.
United’s deal is a bit different in a few ways. First off, it is a much shorter promo window; the deal ends on Thursday, September 4, 2014 rather than running the whole week. Next, the bonus is not a fixed number. There is a potential for a 100% earning rate, assuming enough people participate, but it might be only 35% if 300 or fewer members buy during the promo window. The base rate is 3.76cpm without any bonus. If they get to 100% on the bonus scale (4501+ participants) then the rate comes down to 1.88cpm so in the ballpark of the others, but as a customer no guarantees that it will get there.
United ran a nearly identical promo last year with a max bonus of 60% for 1500+ participants. It took about 24 hours for them to hit that target. And with the higher potential for bonus earning I’m guessing that they’ll hit the 4500+ number within 3 days this time around. Of course, no guarantees. I do appreciate United’s efforts to make it a “social” event and get the customers to do the heavy lifting on the marketing side of things. For anyone participating in the promo it will be to their own benefit to solicit their friends and family into participating. Bonus points to the company for creativity and making this once again the best priced “regular” buy miles option they publish. But don’t forget that 2.1cpm it commonly available without needing others to participate.
If you are going to make the leap and buy miles under one of these promos make sure you compare the redemption costs across the programs where they may overlap. United miles may be a bit more expensive than LifeMiles with this deal but the rules are different for the two programs as are redemption rates. Then again, they don’t have an up-charge for partner premium cabin awards so that’s not so bad.
Alaska Airlines also has a 40% promo running through 15 October which ends up just over 1.9cpm but a lower total number of miles available to buy and a rather different set of award chart options. That might also be a decent opportunity if they have the partners you’re looking for.
Also, worth mentioning that the US Airways deal is available either direct via the carrier or via affiliate links (yes, that’s my version of such). I’m actually most interested to see who will be pushing the affiliate version of the link this time around; many missed it on the last promo cycle.
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