A 40% Bonus on a Bad Deal is Still a Bad Deal!

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

A 40% Bonus on a Bad Deal is Still a Bad Deal!

Million Mile SecretsA 40% Bonus on a Bad Deal is Still a Bad Deal!Million Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Don’t forget to follow me on  Facebook or Twitter!

I wasn’t going to write about this, but I’ve been getting email and comments about whether it is worth taking advantage of a 40% bonus when you convert gift cards into United miles.

United 40 percent Bonus
It still is a Bad Deal!

United allows you to convert gift cards into United miles, but the regular exchange rate is terrible.  For example, a $50 Kroger gift card converts to only 1,330 United miles.

This means that you’re buying United miles at 3.76 cents per mile (5,000 cents/1,330 United Miles) which is the same price which United sells miles for, and is not a great deal!

But with typical marketing chutzpah, United has sent out emails announcing:  “Earn a 40% bonus when you turn gift cards into award miles.”

Except that this is still a bad deal.

Instead of getting 1,330 United miles for a $50 gift card, you now get a 40% bonus or 540 extra miles (which is actually a 40.6% bonus).

So your $50 gift card gets you 1,870 United miles (1,330 base miles + 540 bonus miles).  But you’re still paying 2.67 cents per mile (5,000 cents per mile/1,870 United miles).

United 40 Bonus-1
$50 Kroger Gift Card = 1,870 United Miles

This is ~30% lower than the 3.76 cents per mile if you buy miles directly from United, but it isn’t a great deal.

For example, if you needed 25,000 miles for domestic US flight, you’d be paying $ 668 (25,000 miles X 2.67 cents per mile) for that flight!

I wouldn’t buy a gift card for $50 and convert it into United miles at 2.67 cents per mile unless I was short of miles for an award which I needed to book soon.

However, this is a good way to buy miles for ~30% less than what United sells them for.  But that doesn’t make it a good deal.

I’m sure you can get some cash back by buying gift cards through a cash back site and reduce the cost of buying United miles even further, but I doubt it would make this a good deal unless you can get a gift card for 40% or more off its face value.

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 33,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 6 points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels and 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest
David Gutierrez

This is such a poor offer. I agree. Insane to pay over 3 cents a mile.

This deal is useful for the following scenario:

If you have zero miles in your account and you want to apply for the Credit Card bonus that requires you to have miles in your account.

I had 2 gift cards from Albertson’s totaling a little under $60. My wife’s birthday was earlier this month and I converted the Albertson’s GC’s into two different $25 GC’s plus there was $9.59 left. In California (where we live), any GC with less than $10 left can be cashed out for cash! I cashed out the one GC with $9.59 into cash & got rid of the GC’s.

If I was short on an United award, I would just move enough Chase Saphire points (CSP card) to top off to an award. (my wife has the Sapphire card).

Bottom line: Bad value on converting GC’s to UA miles unless one is to top off an award, has no CSP card and the GC is not too much. Another way for UA to gouge the public!