Back in September, I wrote a post on how my sister-in-law has signed up for United Mileage Plus card (business version) The 50K non-affiliate link is still working as of now. Anyway, she got it solely for the purpose of redeeming the miles for my flights from Europe to USA. The problem is, after minimum spending, she would have 52K miles, and I need 60K for 2 one-way tickets on Lufthansa. So, we started looking for ways to top off the account at a minimum cost.
Last year, I wrote a post on how you can pick up a few United miles here and there, so once again, I turned to the same old tricks. By far, the easiest thing you can do is join MyPoints.com program. You get 1,500 miles after making a purchase of $25 or more through their portal. I just got some toilet paper (yes, that’s right) from Staples.com and the miles were deposited into her account within a week. Nice!
I also went ahead and did the dining promo. You are supposed to get 1,000 miles after spending $35 in one dine. But wait, there is more! As with most things, it’s important to read the fine print. I didn’t. After 8 weeks went by and no sign of miles, I emailed them. Here is the response:
I vaguely remember opting out (hangs head). Well, at least the food was good. Like I said many times, in this hobby you win some, you lose some. It’s important to focus on the big picture.
So, I started looking into other ways to get the darn miles. Since my sister-in-law isn’t planning to sign up for any new bonuses in a near future, I just asked her if she would be willing to use United card for regular business expenses. Her main credit card earns 2% cash back on everything, so I would reimburse her the amount she would have gotten in rewards, at 2 cents per mile. She agreed.
So, that’s what we’ve doing ever since. She tells me the amount of miles she got on her latest statement, and I Paypal her the money. At this point, we only need 1,500 miles, which shouldn’t be that hard to accumulate before July. That’s when I plan to book our award tickets to Europe.
Is it worth it?
It is to me. I don’t have to jump through hoops and can focus on big fish, like working on my own sign-up bonuses. I should be able to get at least 3 CPM (cents per mile) on my future United redemption which equates to 50% profit. Not to mention, in order to make this award a reality, I absolutely need a certain amount of miles. I have no choice but pay. Of course, I can always shop through United portal, buy flowers etc. But in that case, I’m foregoing cash back.
Speaking of flowers, here is a hot deal going on right now if you need to top off your United account:
Let’s say you need 1,400 miles for a specific award. You can accumulate them via everyday spending which means you are paying $28 (if you also happen to have a 2% cash back credit card). Or you can send someone flowers at a cost of $40 and top off your account that way. By this logic, the flowers end up costing you only $12 and have the potential to brighten someone’s day=priceless..
Another hot deal I wanted to mention is subscription to WSJ magazine. I saw a post on it in Doctorofcredit and decided to go ahead an give it a try. Basically, if everything goes as planned, I’ll get 1,200 miles for only $1. Will report back when (or if ) I get the bonus.
Are you paying 2 cents per mile or point?
You are if you are using a card like CSP or Chase Ink Plus on non-bonus categories. That Cat. 1 Hyatt now costs at least $100, and one-way flight on United within Lower 48 states runs at $250. How come? Well, at a rate of 1 point per dollar, 5,000 Ultimate Rewards could be substituted for $100, and 12,500 United miles for $250. Check out this post by Seth Godin, Surveys and focus groups. Here is an excerpt:
It is interesting to think about. If you accumulate points via everyday spending, you have to be aware of what they cost to you. While it feels good to redeem points for travel instead of parting with cold hard cash, remember, you actually have parted with cash already. This expense is very real, like me paying 2 cents for each United mile. The difference is, I’m not starting from scratch, but simply working on topping off an account for a specific award I absolutely intend to take advantage of in a near future.
Leana is the 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.