Lower Price for Buying United Premier Qualifying Miles

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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.

United Premier AcceleratorWhen 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?

Comments

  1. Great post, as usual – I’ll look out for the small yellow box when I next check-in for a UA flight.

    It’s important to add too that you don’t even need to fly “butt in seat” to get PQD’s either, as you can get a waiver, as per below fro the UA website:

    “Waiver for PQD requirement
    In 2014, the PQD requirement is waived for Premier Silver, Premier Gold and Premier Platinum qualification if you meet one of the following criteria:
    a). You spend at least $25,000 in Net Purchases in 2014 on a MileagePlus co-branded credit card issued by Chase Bank USA, N.A.
    OR
    b). You hold a United MileagePlus Presidential Plus℠ Card. See Note 1.

    The PQD waiver does not apply for Premier 1K qualification.

    If you use a military or diplomatic address (APO, DPO or FPO), you are exempt from the PQD requirement for all Premier levels, including Premier 1K.

    1. The MileagePlus Presidential Plus Credit Card is no longer available to new applicants.”

    For me $25K is just one month’s MS in Vanilla Reloads at my favorite pharmacy chain!

  2. You can also manufacture spend up to premier platinum on the presidential plus card for $2939 plus gain 375k redeemable miles. No need to mileage run.

  3. The lowest I saw for purchasing miles last year was 2.1 cents for redeemable and 7 cents for premier qualifying, so 9.1 cents all in. That was in the summer last year. I figured out that I wanted the extra miles in October (only needed 600), so it was up to 13 cents all in by then, but picking them up got me E+ for my October trip MCO to YEG and upgraded to first on the return, so worth the $78 I spent. I booked a ticket that was 600 miles, bought the accelerator miles and cancelled the ticket, all within about 3 hours.

  4. For what it’s worth, I just got an offer for 9.9 cents per mile all in – they’re still keeping the price fairly low, apparently.

  5. Premier Silver, closing in on Gold. Just booked two trips and both had offers at 10.9 cents per mile all-in. Might pull the trigger on these to push me over the hump as I’m gonna come up about 1k short by year end.

  6. I have one more scheduled flight this year which will get me within 1100 miles of Platinum status. The only option for purchasing PQM associated with this flight that I see is for $6,000 at a cost of more than $700. Can I buy only the number of miles that I need? I’d appreciate any advice that folks may have. Thanks so much!

  7. I would also like to know how to purchase eqm with the accelerator for less mile than a 5000 option. I only need 1000, but I only see much higher amounts. Do first class or shorter flights get different options,? Would love a suggestion, thanks

    • Gail, shorter flights will typically give the smallest purchase options, but this time of the year they aren’t stupid and may up the base level purchase sadly. I took a 500 mile flight to finish up my qualification this week. So, try a shorter flight to see what comes up, but in the end it may be cheaper to take a quick flight it time allows.

  8. Hi,
    I really appreciated the info in this article. I’m wondering about buying premiere status miles so early in the year. Do you know if they are valid for just this year or will they go towards 2016 status as well?

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