United MileagePlus Introduces Gift Card Exchange Program

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by sobore, Feb 13, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/united-mileageplus-introduces-gift-card-exchange-program-2012-02-13

    UAL today launched the MileagePlus Gift Card Exchange, a first-of-its-kind program that enables MileagePlus members to convert the remaining value of unused or partially used retail gift cards into award miles.

    MileagePlus members also may now use gift cards from more than 60 major retailers to purchase award miles electronically online.

    After logging into their MileagePlus accounts, customers select the retailer and enter their gift card information. Once MileagePlus verifies the transaction, United converts the balance on the gift card to award miles and deposits the miles into the members' accounts.

    "The MileagePlus Gift Card Exchange program offers members another convenient way to earn award miles," said Jeff Foland, president of Mileage Plus Holdings, LLC. "We are pleased to offer customers new and innovative ways to engage with the world's leading loyalty program."

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/united-mileageplus-introduces-gift-card-exchange-program-2012-02-13
     
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  2. cordray2643
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    cordray2643 Silver Member

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    Always nice to find new ways of getting miles!
     
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  3. JetAway

    JetAway Silver Member

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    Gift cards must have a remaining minimum balance of $25. Not exactly loose change.
     
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  4. United Connection

    United Connection Silver Member

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    Any rumors on earning rates yet?

    Should obviously be a worse nominal rate than buying miles with cash, but I wonder how much worse. Given the discount to par that GC's for some retailers trade at on eBay there might be some value here, but I'm not holding my breath.
     
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  5. icurhere2
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    icurhere2 Gold Member

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    From the FAQs (logged into my MP account at the moment), the merchant providing the service is PlasticJungle. Another interesting FAQ is that cards do not need to be mailed ...

    ETA: Another article suggests the 7.5% U.S. federal excise tax is charged on these transactions.
     
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  6. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    Interesting. If anyone tests this out, please report back the results:
    Which merchant gift card did you use?
    How much $ was on it?
    How many miles were you offered?
     
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  7. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    I'll answer my own question. I plugged in a $100 Walmart card and they offered only 2660 miles.

    This is a really bad deal.

    You can sell the Walmart card directly to PlasticJungle for $92, so this is like buying miles for $92/2660 = 3.46 cents each. True, that's a little bit less than United sells miles for (3.76 cents), but you can buy Ultimate Rewards points from Chase for 2.5 cents each and convert them directly to miles for no additional charge. Even that is more than I would want to pay. I'm just throwing it out there as an example of why this deal is so bad.
     
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  8. icurhere2
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    icurhere2 Gold Member

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    When I found the link suggesting the excise tax was to be charged, I assumed one was essentially "buying" miles. If one's generous and assumes the card is considered at parity of $100, 2660 miles results in a cost of 3.759 cents, and that's with WalMart as one of the most valuable cards to PlasticJungle.

    Not a change I will like.
     
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  9. miketown
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    miketown Silver Member

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    It's an option, but one very few savvy folks will use. Sort of like buying a BluRay player for 80k miles. :confused:
     
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  10. noname2
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    noname2 Silver Member

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    Interesting option, but limited value.
     
  11. Pat+
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    Pat+ Silver Member

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    More options is always a good thing. It's interesting that so far the price seems to be better than the direct purchase rate. I can see a couple of exceptional situations where this might come in handy.
     
  12. canucklehead
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    canucklehead Gold Member

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    I thought it would be useful for GC remnants (like the 79cents on my Office Max GC), but with a $25 minimum, its not worth it for me.
     
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  13. chitownflyer
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    chitownflyer Silver Member

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    I did not even see any description on the site as to how many miles one receives for cashing in a card. As referenced above, the exchange rate does not seem to be very good.
     
  14. United Connection

    United Connection Silver Member

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    Strange that the conversion rate (relative to GC par value) is almost exactly the same as UA's retail rate for miles. Implies they are giving up margin on the miles to offer this option. That said, the 2.5cpm rate for UR points others have mentioned implies the margin here is still quite cushy.

    Terrible way to acquire miles in any event.
     
  15. unavaca
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    unavaca Gold Member

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    According to USA Today, the exchange rate fluctuates, which is why it's not listed on the site.
     
  16. B1BomberVB

    B1BomberVB Silver Member

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    Like Canucklehead #12, I would use it only for small remnants, so I say the $25 minimum sux. I have a HomeDepot GC worth about $11 for which I'd settle for 288 miles because I have an orphan account with X thousand 712 miles which I'd like to boost to an even thousand, then add a few K from Sapphire to reach an award.
     
  17. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Unless you've been given a bunch of gift cards and would prefer airline miles.
     
  18. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Six days to topguest checkins... mission accomplished. GC retained :)
     
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  19. United Connection

    United Connection Silver Member

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    In which case you would be better off selling the cards on plastic jungle / ebay, and using the proceeds to buy Chase UR points at 2.5 cents each, which you can then transfer to UACO at no cost.
     
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  20. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    If you happen to have that program, sure. Not everyone will have every card. Now that I've switched to UA, I'm going to need to do a card re-alignment, but I needed to do that anyway.
     

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