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One of the cool things about the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal is the ability to use your points to pay for some or all of plane tickets available on the portal.
Usually, those tickets work just like cash tickets you’d buy directly from the airline.
You can earn miles when you fly and enjoy your elite status benefits.
But there is an important exception with United Airlines.
Tickets you buy via the Ultimate Rewards website might be coded as ‘Bulk’ fares according to reports on Flyertalk. ‘Bulk’ fares are the kind pre-purchased by big travel consolidators like Priceline or Hotwire on the cheap and resold to consumers.
If that’s the case, you won’t be able to earn any Premier Qualifying Dollars toward Premier status, and you might not be able to upgrade your flight with miles or certificates.
You’ll still earn regular flight miles, though instead of earning based on the price of your ticket, you’ll earn based on how far you fly.
That’s because United has a different mileage earning structure for bulk fares, which in some cases could mean you’ll earn more regular flight miles than with a regular, non-bulk ticket.
For example, if you buy a $350 ticket from Los Angeles to New York, you’d earn 5x the fare or 1,750 miles roundtrip if it’s a regular, non bulk fare.
But as a bulk fare you’d earn 50% of the miles flown, or 2,500 miles roundtrip in your MileagePlus account.
The catch is you won’t earn any Premier Qualifying Dollars.
Unfortunately there’s no reliable way to tell if the Chase site is selling you a bulk fare.
Often a bulk fare could be the very same price as the regular fare you might find on United’s own website.
And sometimes tickets purchased via the Ultimate Rewards site are regular fares that earn full Premier Qualifying Dollars and have no upgrade restrictions.
Which makes the whole issue quite maddening if you’re trying to earn United Premier elite status.
So all we can gather is don’t expect a United ticket booked via the Chase portal to act like one purchased directly from United. If you’re not in the hunt for United Premier status or trying to upgrade, it won’t matter, and in some cases you’ll come out ahead in miles earned.
But if you are, be aware you might not earn any Premier qualifying dollars, and might not be able to upgrade your ticket with miles or certificates.
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