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As you may have already noticed, United gives you the option of buying Premier Qualifying Miles on your scheduled flights. You will see this advertized as “Buy Extra Miles for this Trip” when you look at your existing reservations on United.com and then again (several times?!) when you check in online or via the kiosk at the airport. The basic level “award accelerator” miles do not count for elite status, but instead are just redeemable miles you can use to book award trips. I typically have no interest in paying that much for redeemable miles that I can earn for much less money via other methods, but recently I have noticed a trend with the Premier Qualifying Miles that I think is worth mentioning.
When you click on the box next to the redeemable miles they have for sale you will see an option to add “Premier Accelerator” for more money. What this means is that the miles you purchase will not just be redeemable miles, but they will also count toward elite status. This option raises the price significantly, but it makes the miles much more interesting if you care about qualifying for elite status like I do.
I have seen the price per mile with the Premier Accelerator option range from around 10 cents a mile to well over 20 cents per mile, especially toward the end of the year when folks realize they need more miles to hit the elite status threshold they are after. Recently, the price per mile when adding the Premier Accelerator option on my trips has been lower than I am used to seeing. I have read some reports online that others are seeing the same trend. Keep in mind that money spent on these miles does not count toward the Premier Qualifying Dollars requirement United also has for elite status. However, if the PQD isn’t your stumbling block and you know you are going to need a few extra premier qualifying miles to get you over to the elite status threshold you are after, then it may be worth it to see what the price is on your scheduled trips.
Recently I have been seeing offers in the 10-11 cents per mile range all-in when adding the Premier Accelerator option. This is at least double the price per mile that many like to see on mileage runs (flights taken exclusively for the miles earned), but it isn’t that bad considering you don’t have to actually give up your time the way you would on a mileage run. Mileage runs also have “hidden” costs like driving to the airport, parking, and sometimes even hotel stays, so even a low “cents per mile” on a mileage run may not be as low as it first appears.
I don’t recommend buying tons of miles via this method as elite status with United just isn’t worth all that much, but it certainly can be worth it to get the few thousand miles you to obtain the next elite status level. Keep in mind it’s still really early in the year, so don’t buy more than you need, but I highly doubt that premier qualifying miles will get any cheaper via this method as the year goes on.
Are you seeing the same trend with the price of the Premier Accelerator as I am?