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A potentially interesting United MileagePlus transfer bonus

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We don’t cover United MileagePlus much since the airline closed its UK credit card a few years ago.

Whilst there are arguably better value and more relevant Star Alliance frequent flyer schemes for UK residents, it does have some interesting quirks. Short haul Star Alliance redemptions are not a bad deal, for example – a one-way from Heathrow to Frankfurt on Lufthansa can be as low as 6,000 miles and $57 in Economy.

United is currently offering a 30% bonus on transfers of hotel loyalty points into MileagePlus. The offer runs until 30th September and you can see the details here. The bonus is capped at 25,000 miles.

A potentially interesting United MileagePlus transfer bonus

The only hotel programme which offers genuine value when converting points into airline miles is Marriott Bonvoy.

This is especially true with United because of Marriott’s special partnership with the airline.

Transfers from Marriott to airlines are usually in the ratio of 3:1. For United, it is 3:1.1. You also get the usual 5,000 mile bonus (increased to 5,500 miles with the added 10%) for converting 60,000 Bonvoy points in one transaction.

This means:

  • 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points becomes
  • 22,000 United MileagePlus miles, plus
  • 5,500 bonus United MileagePlus miles for converting 60,000 Marriott points, plus
  • 8,250 bonus UnitedMileagePlus miles with the current ‘30% bonus’ promo

In total, you’d get 35,750 United MileagePlus miles for converting 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

This offer can also work well as a way of converting American Express Membership Rewards points into United MileagePlus miles.

The conversion rate from Amex to Marriott Bonvoy is 2:3. This means:

  • 40,000 American Express Membership Rewards points becomes
  • 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points which follows the path above to become
  • 35,750 United MileagePlus miles

This is a ‘1 to 0.89’ conversion ratio from Amex to United which isn’t bad considering that it is not a direct partner.

If you don’t have an active United MileagePlus account or experience of using United miles, I wouldn’t bother with this. If it is one of the programmes where you have some interest, the 30% transfer bonus from hotel programme is worth looking at.

Comments (36)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • J says:

    “unforgettable stays at Heathrow” – 😂

  • The Streets says:

    Thanks for United transfer heads up.. I top up my Mileage Plus every now and again when these offers come along

  • Clarence says:

    A few years ago we booked the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore for one night using the last of my wife’s Mileage Plus points on the way home from Australia. We booked a standard room but got a free upgrade to a huge suite overlooking the sea as they couldn’t give us a late checkout the next day. We thought it was an excellent way to use points we would have found hard to use elsewhere.

  • Sideshow Bob says:

    Lastminute don’t even seem to be trying with the description of their “Top secret” hotels 😀

    “Superbly connected to Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 4 via a covered walkway and terminals 2,3 & 5 can be accessed easily. Hilton London Heathrow Airport offers 398 guest rooms, executive rooms, and suites with excellent links to the capital and convenient air connections to the UK, Europe and beyond.”

    • tony says:

      If you use the lastminute app and sort the results by distance from a landmark, that makes it remarkably easy, too….

    • Andrew says:

      I was looking at a date in March and the secret 4 star hotel was £47 . They quoted a fully refundable rate so i could book and get refunded if i didn’t like the outcome . Do all the secret hotels offer a refundable rate ?

      • Tony says:

        No normally they’re non refundable as otherwise it misses the point. As soon as they take pay they tell you the hotel

  • roberto says:

    Thanks for the heads up. The lowest (£107) room rates at the Sofitel are non refundable deals.

    I have three bookings with the hotel directly at £144, £161 and £171(inc breakfast) and will swap to the deal once I am sure the trip will go ahead.

  • Shad says:

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to stack the rate with a park and fly deal at the Sofitel?

  • John says:

    I racked up a decent number of United miles (~300k) when I was doing monthly trips across the Atlantic a few years back. Still have most of them – redemptions weren’t helpful on the occasions I wanted to fly to the US for personal stuff, and so the only use I’ve made of them is Aer Lingus flights to Dublin, which look decent value on the face of it, but I’ve never done the sums.

    TBH I should probably look at using them on hotels or similar. Other suggestions welcome!

    • Lady London says:

      I think One Mile at a Time and the other US blogger from Hawaii, were very good on the sweet spots on UA.

      Definitely don’t waste that quantity of miles as I think you could do some stuff with them that’s not possible with British Airways and without the enormous co-pays BA has the cheek to call taxes but mostly pockets themselves.

      • John says:

        That’s a good shout, I’ll do some more reading. I might also have the option to accumulate more if business travel opens up again next year, but pre-COVID my travel patterns had changed mostly to SEA, where United doesn’t fly direct from LHR.

  • Michael says:

    Hi, if the BA City Flyer is using Embraer with seat configuration of 2-2, does it mean the only difference between Avios redemption of economy and business are just the food served in the plane and the access to lounge? Is there any value in redeeming business?

    • Rob says:


      No real value if you have status and get the lounge anyway. Food is very good, for this very reason, but a pricey meal on that basis.

      • Stu N says:

        Baggage allowance is better in business too which might be significant benefit if you take your own skis.

    • ChrisC says:

      No Lounge at LCY though.

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