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On How I Sold United Miles for Less than 1 Cent Each

Well, technically, they were Continental miles at the time. But since the merger of the airlines was approved, they were supposed to become United miles at some point. And I didn’t really sell them, since it’s against the rules. Let me explain.

Five years ago, I applied for Chase OnePass (Continental Airlines) Visa. I knew it was only  a matter of time till the card was discontinued, so wanted to get the 50,000 miles bonus before it was too late.

I always encourage readers to look at cards that will go away soon (like US Airways card right now), and make applying for them a priority even if the bonus is lower than other offers. Several of my readers have asked for my personal referral link for US Airways Barclaycard, so here it is in case you are interested. You get the official bonus, and I get 5,000 miles per approval.

Anyway, I got Continental card, but really had no use for the miles. I mentioned before that I prefer AAdvantage and Avios because they usually work better for our needs.  About six months later, we needed to make some purchases at Lowe’s. At the time, you could transfer Continental miles to Amtrak points 1:1 and redeem them for gift cards, including Lowe’s (10,000 miles converted to $100).

That option was soon to be discontinued due to Continental and United merger. So, I had  a decision to make. At the time, we  were in debt for medical bills due to  problems I encountered in  my pregnancy.

Reluctantly, I decided to convert my miles to $500 Lowe’s gift card. I’m pretty sure several bloggers just had heart attacks. To trade (eventually) United  miles for a gift card. Unthinkable! Plus, remember, you can sometimes buy Lowe’s gift cards at Cardpool at 10 percent off, so really, I didn’t even get 1 cent per mile by that logic.

Honestly, if I could go back in time, I probably would have done the same thing. We just had a new baby and didn’t plan to fly for a long time. Right now I would never consider converting miles to a gift card, but our circumstances are quite different, and we are starting to travel more since the kids are older. No more dragging car seats on trips!

But at the time, we actually took out  home equity line of credit (at a low rate) to pay off some bills. It really seemed logical to convert the miles instead of going deeper into debt.

While I’m at it, I will confess that around the same time I also redeemed Ultimate Rewards points  for a statement credit instead of transferring them to a loyalty program. Say what? Well, my grocery store refused to accept anything but American dollars and we needed to eat.


Image courtesy of mrsiraphol at


Actually, it was more along these lines:


Image courtesy of gt_pann at


How does this apply to you?

My advice to readers is to make your miles and points decisions by weighing your individual circumstances. Yes, you should aim to get more than 1 CPM (cents per mile) on your award flights. But if you are in debt or low on savings, and have to fly somewhere, perhaps consider redeeming your miles even if the return isn’t spectacular. The same goes for hotel points. You know, bird in a hand is worth two in a bush.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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2 thoughts on “On How I Sold United Miles for Less than 1 Cent Each

    • Hey, $700 in gift cards is nothing to sneeze at! Yeah, everyone’s circumstances are different. The usual mantra is: Don’t redeem miles unless you can get 2 CPM. I say: Burn the miles when it works for your specific situation.

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