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Top 5 items bought with United miles – when are they a good deal?

by on Wed July 31, 2013 • No Comment
Have 2 million miles? Get a huge $15,000 TV or $6,000 watch.

Have 2 million miles? Get a huge $15,000 TV or $6,000 watch.

United recently revealed some of the top items people buy with miles at the MileagePlus Awards marketplace. to consulting firm IdeaWorks for a recent study. The results…some great gifts are being redeemed, but at pretty paltry values per mile versus using the miles for flights:

  1. Apple 13″ MacBook Pro – 197,600 miles (retail:$1,199, value per point $0.006)
  2. Michael Kors Runway Gold Chronograph Watch – 27,800 miles (retail: $250, value per point: $0.009)
  3. Beats By Dr. Dre Headphones – 36,800 miles (retail: $250, value per point: $.00679)
  4. Keurig Platinum Brewing System – 34,000 miles (retail: $180, value per point: $0.004)
  5. Dyson Digital Slim Multi Floor Vacuum – 45,600 miles (retail: $330, value per point: $0.007)

Most of the items on the list fall in the grey area of account balances – between 25,000 and 50,000 miles. 25,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip domestic ticket, but with limited ‘Saver’ availability that some people just don’t have the patience to deal with. If you do find the availability, you can get a ticket that costs hundreds of dollars for 25,000 miles. That’s a value of over one cent per mile.

But most of these merchandise items make your miles worth about a half a cent or so, or less than half the value you would get if you spent the miles on flights.

So when are these a good deal?

  • If you are at the point where you have less than 50,000 miles in your account, have no plans to fly United in the future, and have exhausted credit card bonus opportunities, then spending your leftover miles on merchandise can make sense.
  • Some items, like the Michael Kors watch can get you nearly a penny in value for your miles. But most are worth about a half a cent in value.
  • Either way, if you have no use for a domestic flight (starts at 25,000 miles roundtrip), which is hard but not impossible to fathom, then have at it with merchandise.
  • But if you have over 100,000 miles sitting around, it’s hard to justify using the miles for a MacBook Pro. There are just too many options to use them for flights with maximum flexibility. So unless you have no travel plans at all for the next year or so you’re not getting all the cash savings you could. Especially when international business class or domestic first class flights can offer thousands of dollars in value.
  • But for those of us that value using your miles for flights these deals are a very good thing. They let United get rid of miles with minimal cost, saving that cost for providing valuable flight awards to those of us who care and are willing to keep building our mile balances.

Or you can save up for the ultimate in rewards – over 2 million miles for a $15,000 LG TV. They’ll even throw in the HDMI cable.

There are lots of ways to earn miles via credit card spending:

> Earn 70,000+ United miles with credit card offers

> Best United credit card for you might not say United on it


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