Why United’s New Deal is Really Terrible!

United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner above the clouds (Source: United AIrlines)

United Airlines Mileage Plus has launched a new service called Miles by the Month. However, the deal is so BAD that I felt obliged to write about it.

Miles subscriptions are an increasingly popular way of selling miles, particularly in Latin America*. Essentially you pay a fixed amount each month and receive a fixed number of miles in return. The longer you remain “loyal”, the more miles you will earn.

But with United, the numbers simply don’t add up.  Here’s why…

screenshot of a screenshot of a website

How Much Does The Cheapest Per-Mile Subscription Cost?

If you sign up to buy 8,000 miles per month, you will pay $225.75 per month after taxes.  This works out to 2.82 cents per mile.  (BAD!)

a screenshot of a cost receipt

You will, of course, earn “loyalty bonuses”.  If you stay subscribed for a full year, you will be acquiring:

  • 8,000 miles x 12 –> 96,000 miles
  • 24,000 miles in total bonuses

For a grand total of 120,000 miles.

You will have paid $225.75 per month for 12 months, for a total cost of $2,709.  This works out to 2.26 cents per mile.

a woman lying on a couch

Why Not Just Buy Miles Today?

I don’t necessarily recommend that you buy United miles, certainly not speculatively.  But if you had a reward in mind, you could buy 120,000 miles today, taking advantage of United’s 50% off deal, running until October 25th, 2021.

Those 120,000 miles would cost you $2,257.50 after tax, or 1.88 cents each.

If not October, you can be 100% confident that a similar promotion will arrive in November, December or whenever you might need some more United miles.

The Bottom Line

Pay $2,709 over 12 months to acquire 120,000 miles in 12 months time?  Or spend $2,257 to get those same 120,000 miles today, ready to spend on a reward flight that you’ve already found award space for?  With numbers like those, it’s mind-numbingly stupid to sign up for Miles by the Month.

So… if you come across United’s “Miles by the Month” service, just ignore it…  It’s one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen offered by a major airline…

*Why Latin America?

Inflation is the reason…  If you agree to pay a fixed number of pesos per month, then your hard currency cost per month will steadily decrease, even though you would still be receiving the same number of miles each month…