Elite Maximizer

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by WilCo, Feb 4, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    I'm all for airlines finding ways to get profitable. It's all about bringing in more revenue than your expenses if you want to turn a profit, if I remember my college accounting classes right. The equation gets a little more complex when you have to start factoring in where a price point actually starts losing you money.

    For an overly simplified example, raising a North America - Europe economy ticket from $1000 RT to $3000 RT 10 months prior to flight may or may not fill up the plane. But will you sell at least 1/3 of the seats that you would have at $1000/seat? (I recognize it is very much more complex than that, but stay with me for the example's sake).

    Elite Maximizer may be one of those programs. I can buy 20K RDMs and EQMs for $1400 right now. For me, it still doesn't make sense as I don't see myself getting $1400 of value out of that proposition. If it helps me avoid some baggage fees, then I can rapidly get $150/bag value out of it. If I buy enough EQMs to get Gold status, I could argue that the extra RDMs I earn could pay off (100% bonus on flights versus 25% as silver or 0% as non-elite). If I buy enough EQMs to get to Platinum status, then I could argue the regional upgrades I achieve are worth something also, but now we're talking about some pretty serious cash out the door, if we assume I'm starting without status and am simply buying my way to status.

    Anyway -- all of this to be said that, at least early in the year, the Elite Maximizer does not seem like a good value for me...at least not in any large quantity of miles purchased. Perhaps if I was close to the next status and could buy just a few miles (which I am aware you can force the system to price for you), then it might be worth it.

    I just wonder if anyone else can make the math work in their favor for large quantities of miles purchased. I can't, though I tried to.

    That being said (and back to my opening thoughts), if the price per EQM were significantly lower than the current ~7cpm that it appears to be on my reservations, then I might be enticed. But would United's decision to lower prices of Elite Maximizer that much cause an influx of new elites that would actually hurt their total revenue because current elites would choose to fly elsewhere? After all, revenue would likely be greater than expenses for Elite Maximizer still...expenses are pretty low for UACO.
     
  2. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I think it is a bit of game theory going on, really. A 7cpEQM it is definitely higher than most MRs would be but with airfares quickly going up and finding the 3-5cpEQM runs getting harder and harder, the incremental 1-2cpEQM for just buying the miles outright and skipping the time investment doesn't completely suck.

    Thinking back to last year when the price spiked late in the year as demand went up, I do not think that 7cpEQM is too low for most customers and my guess is that they're selling a ton of these points. Not necessarily to the most educated customers, but they are selling. Remember that they have been minting money with just the 2.5-3cpRDM programs for a while now where most folks in the know (i.e. us) wouldn't pay more than a penny for those.

    I cannot imagine the company cutting back on the price just to appease the smarter customers when the less smart ones are buying the product with reckless abandon. If no one was buying then the price would probably come down, but I don't see that happening.
     
  3. From NYC
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    From NYC Gold Member

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    As a CO elite who frequently used B fares on international routes to gain extra miles and co-payless upgrades, Maximizer never made sense to me. Now that CO's B fares have gone up massively to match what I guess UA's B fares are, it might start making sense to me just from a time-saving standpoint. I'll have to review each one as it goes.
     
  4. IMGone
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    IMGone Silver Member

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    I don't think this type of offering is geared towards a FF or a savvy traveler. Folks that don't travel much look and see "oh, I can earn more miles" and don't really understand the underlying economics. I'm sure they do sell a good amount of these types of deals but I agree the value is rarely present.
     
  5. SS255
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    SS255 Silver Member

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    I see it as a good way to top off your account if you don't think that you will hit that next status level, or you don't properly pace yourself throughout the year.
     
  6. ozstamps
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    ozstamps Silver Member

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    Where can you get 20,000 EQM for $1400 cash?
     
  7. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    You can also ask Alex, the friendly Continental virtual agent. I'm not sure if this is available on united.com or not.

    The more detailed answer is:
    1. Book a longer reservation (shorter ones only less miles)
    2. View the reservation on continental.com
    3. Scroll down to just below where the flights are listed and look at the advertisement that you train yourself to ignore -- this one's important. It says, "Buy Extra Miles for this Trip"
    4. Click "Get Extra Miles"
    5. Select the number of RDMs you want (note -- you have to buy the RDMs to get the EQM offer).
    6. After selecting the RDMs, you get prompted to add EQMs to the reservation also.
    7. Determine if it makes sense for you or not. Purchase the RDMs/EQMs if it does.
    8. Cancel your reservation within 24 hours of booking if you had no intention of flying. The RDMs and EQMs are yours to keep -- after all, you bought them! Quote from Continental.com's website follow: "All purchases through OnePass Maximizer are non-refundable. You’ll be able to keep any miles you’ve purchased even if you change or cancel your trip. This also applies when your flight is re-routed or interrupted on account of conditions outside your control." Source
     
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  8. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    I have purchased about 6k worth of the elite maximizer. I probably don't need them but I wanted to make sure I met my goal of 25k EQMs by end of February...maybe I'm a bit crazy here but I like seeing my EQM meter move forward sooner than later :)

    As for the price I don't think it's great, but all in all not horrible either.
     
  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    It's CO EQM for the moment, but at the end of the year they'll get merged with your UA EQM balance.

    Even though I have never used it (not being a frequent CO traveler), I like the option, just like I find it useful to have Chase Choices-to-EQM conversion option in case I end up needing an extra 5000 EQM at the end of the year. I might be able to find a cheaper MR, but it involves effort and time to find and fly it. So I hope that UACO maintain both options in the merger of the two programs.
     
  10. chrislacey
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    chrislacey Milepoint Guide

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    Is it just me, or does this program bother other people too? I know that UA sells just about every elite privilege for a price...but flat out buying status when some of us do it BIS seems "lame" (for lack of a better word). I guess the redeeming quality of this scheme for the real BIS flyer is that most of these people probably don't travel enough to really get in the way when it comes to taking upgrades, etc.
     
  11. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    I don't see any issues with it, most people won't buy tons of them... For me I bought 6k so I can meet my goal of 25k by end of February with my current itineraries this month. (the first quarter for me business travel wise is always slow and I view purchasing these extra eqm as insurance just in case my travel year doesn't go as planned). That said, I don't think you'll see people buying elite that status that way, in my opinion too expensive. But to top off a account no big deal. I would have done a mileage run this month but no time. (but I will do one next month :))

    By the way it's 113.00 for 1500 EQMs (for example) and the way the program works you must have a booked ticket purchased to buy the extra points.
     
  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Do you anticipate that it would be much more expensive to "top off" later in the year, or why did you spend money now to reach a first-quarter milestone? I have a hard time predicting all my leisure travel (business is easy -- close to zero), so I am not even sure yet if I am going to shoot for 1P or 1K.
     
  13. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    Last year CO did raise the price considerably at the end of the year, luckily I was over 150k last year. Last year I did some big trips RUH, HKG, NRT (HKG and RUH being B fares). This year not sure how much long haul international i'll have (ton of short and mid haul domestic) but not as much intl except for DUB this month and maybe DOH for work if things work out well. So ultimately I want to be 1k for next year so that's why I've taken a little insurance just to make sure:)
     
  14. SS255
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    SS255 Silver Member

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    I much prefer CO selling EQM's via Elite Maximizer than offering DEQM's for free. 6 months' worth of DEQM's in 2009 diluted Platinum status, and we still have a few more weeks before all of the DEQM Platinums/Golds/Silvers drop off the map. I really cannot see most people buying the EM miles. Even if they do, it's not like most are flying 37,500 and making Platinum. The few who do, are at least paying a price for the additional 37,500 miles. And those of us who fall a bit short of our desired status level can pay CO roughly what it would have cost them to transport us. Either way, CO is making money on both sets of customers.
     
  15. chrislacey
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    chrislacey Milepoint Guide

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    For some reason I didn't even think about DEQM. I agree that this program is way less disturbing than DEQM, but I'd still like to see "genuine" elite levels that require BIS travel.
     
  16. mechteach
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    mechteach Silver Member

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    I also have mixed feelings about this. I'm not thrilled with DEQM or buying EQM or getting EQMs for a minimum CC spend. However, I think that it is just fine that UA gives up to 5k EQMs for buying up to $5k worth of tickets on their website. In principle, this doesn't really differ all that much from buying the EQM, except that you do have to fly the tickets. It's a little contradictory of me, I know.
     
  17. SS255
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    SS255 Silver Member

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    And CO's policy of awarding 1,000 flex EQM's for every $5,000 of spend on the Presidential Plus Master Card enables people who use the card for business expenses to pad their elite status, as well. I have seen several posts on Flyertalk from people who earn enough flex EQM's per year to jump ahead one full status level. Is it fair to those of us who earn status with BIS miles? Maybe not to us. But any customer which improves CO's bottom line -- no matter how that revenue is generated -- is important in CO's eyes, and if they choose to reward people who contribute by means other than flying, I suppose it is their right to do so. At least the competition is not as fierce as with DEQM's.
     
  18. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Exactly. If someone wants to pay double to get ahead of me in line for benefits then I don't begrudge them that at all. Maybe I'm a bit jealous that they have so much spare change and mad that they spend it so foolishly, but that's their choice.
     
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  19. cvarming
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    cvarming Silver Member

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    The thing I don't understand is why anybody would care about the status of someone that doesn't fly. If they don't earn the BIS miles then they are not flying and thus they are not stealing your upgrades, or your award seats, or the 1K phone line, or.... Why should I care about the number of non-flying high status flyers.
     
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  20. chitownflyer
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    chitownflyer Silver Member

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    Thanks to those whom posted the info on CO Elite Maximizer, I did not know it even existed as I am pretty much tied to United; however, the merger means that any miles I earn in a OnePass account will be combined with my Mileage Plus account at the end of this year.
     
  21. chitownflyer
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    chitownflyer Silver Member

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    When you buy Elite Maximizer miles, does a person receive both EQM and RDM, or does a choice have to be made between the two? Also, is the typical cost per EQM .07 per mile or does it become less expensive with the more EQM purchased?
     
  22. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    You can buy RDMs or RDMs+EQMs. You cannot buy only EQMs.

    The cpm stays relatively static at any given point in time regardless of the number being purchased. But the cpm cost can - and has - vary day to day depending on what CO thinks folks will pay. In December '10 it was up around 30cpEQM IIRC.
     
  23. chitownflyer
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    chitownflyer Silver Member

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    Is the cost typically .07 per mile?
     
  24. Tinkerer
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    Tinkerer Gold Member

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    The cost varies day to day based on demand. As the end of the year rolled around last year, for example, the cost was rising (to decode Wandering Aramean's acronyms at the end of his post - In Dec 2010 it was up around 30 cents per elite qualifying mile if I recall correctly)
     
  25. chitownflyer
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    chitownflyer Silver Member

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    What have people typically been charged then at the beginning of 2011 or mid pint of the year(knowing that this can change)?
     

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