Why You Shouldn’t Use Your Miles & Points for Free Merchandise

Why You Shouldn’t Use Your Miles & Points for Free Merchandise

Million Mile SecretsWhy You Shouldn’t Use Your Miles & Points for Free MerchandiseMillion Mile Secrets Team

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Capital One, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners.

On my way through Newark Airport recently, I saw something that makes many miles and points enthusiasts cringe:

Why You Shouldnt Use Your Miles Points For Free Merchandise
Please Don’t Use Your United Airlines Miles to Purchase Merchandise In-Store or Online!

And Million Mile Secrets reader, lennygale, commented on Instagram wanting to know, “Why not?”

Lennygale, while many folks do redeem their miles this way, you can get a LOT more from your points by using them for travel.  I’ll explain!

Why Using Miles to Buy Merchandise Is a Bad Idea

During the holidays you may be tempted to use your United Airlines miles (and other airline miles & hotel points) to buy the latest gadgets or household items for your loved ones.

Why You Shouldnt Use Your Miles Points For Free Merchandise
Don’t Be Enticed by the Fancy Electronics and Luxury Clothing! You Can Get Much More From Your United Airlines Miles

Redeeming your miles and points this way will greatly reduce their value.

For example, a Samsung 60 inch Smart LED TV will cost you 163,100 United Airlines miles on the United Airlines shopping site.  Or you could pay ~$1,000 in cash through Amazon.

So if you purchase the TV, you’ll only get a value of ~0.6 cents per United Airlines mile (~$1,000 retail cost of TV / 163,100 United Airlines miles).

Why You Shouldnt Use Your Miles Points For Free Merchandise
You Could Get this Big Screen TV at ~0.6 Cents per Mile and Feel Like You’re Watching in the Stadium! But I’d Rather Use My Miles to Travel the World!

You can do a whole lot better than 0.6 cents per United Airlines mile!

Get Much More Out of Your Miles by Using Them for Travel!

160,000 United Airlines miles can get you 2 round-trip Business Class flights to Hawaii!

Why You Shouldnt Use Your Miles Points For Free Merchandise
Your Trip to Hawaii Is Sure to Be Filled With Memories That Will Last Forever

This trip would otherwise cost ~$4,000, giving you a value of 2.5 cents per mile (~$4,000 cost of paid flights / 160,000 United Airlines miles)!

Or get a round-trip First Class flight to Asia.

Why You Shouldnt Use Your Miles Points For Free Merchandise
Kick Back With a Cocktail on the Flight Then Explore the Ancient Castles of Japan Where Samurai Warriors Once Roamed the Halls

A First Class round-trip flight from the US to Tokyo can cost ~$7,000!  So you’ll get an excellent value of ~4.4 cents per mile (~$7,000 cost of paid flight / 160,000 United Airlines Miles)!

Bottom Line

You can redeem your United Airlines miles for merchandise like televisions, laptops, clothing, and home goods, but I don’t recommend it!  That’s because these kinds of redemptions will give you an extremely poor value.

Instead use your miles for travel and explore new cities, meet new people, and try new foods!  Check out my Beginner’s Guide for more details about how to earn miles and points quickly for Big Travel!

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wise advise -- and even as it makes most of your readers cringe, it bears repeating....

After all, few will admit (in public) that they are among the over 20% of Americans who think that Agrabah is a real country -- and that we should bomb it. Yet they are out there....

needing to be enlightened. Same with being wise with your miles.... there will always be the slick snake oil sales folks more than happy to steal their miles from them.... all the while waving the flag.

Plus you'll get even more points for travel when you buy that new TV with your favorite points earning credit card!