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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)

  • Mattb says:

    I’m getting £106 for a Saturday next April for our Easter trip so not so last minute!

    • Sam says:

      Though I wouldn’t advise you to book such a long future booking. Lastminute.com has a notorious record of not refunding money despite phone calls and email chase by frustrating customers. They only paid me how much they owed me after I resorted to a chargeback. And that’s 3 months wait whereas I would have got my money back in a week if I was dealing with more honest OTAs such as Expedia or agoda (instant).

      You’re not allowed to change your booking on lastminute.com. Instead you’ll have to cancel and rebook one and this will trigger the the experience I had.

      • Baresi says:

        Same happened to me, had to go through the chargeback option. I even had a call from Italy asking me to drop the chargeback!
        I have vowed never to use this company again….

  • bafan says:

    United miles are great for short haul Europe flights, good shout Rob. I hate United as an airline but MileagePlus has bailed me out more than once, similar to American and AAdvantage. I’m working on the Chase United Explorer bonus at the moment.

    • N says:

      What airlines in Europe?

      • bafan says:

        I’ve used them for SAS, Aegean and Lufthansa. Still feels expensive compared to the LCCs but there are times where I’ve needed to fly last minute and been very grateful I have an MP stash. Also used them for Air Canada in the past.

  • Chris D says:

    OT, but I received the following incredibly curt text message from Creation:

    “ With immediate effect we will be unable to process any transactions using your Curve Card where the transaction is allocated to your Creation issued credit card”

    • Kevin D says:

      Me too, just now

    • Neal says:

      Same, what is going on?!

      • JamesLHR says:

        Just had the same. I had a transaction declined the other day, I wonder if this is related to it.

        What in the T&Cs of the CC card permits this behaviour?

        The tone of the text is disgusting and they have my email address where they could outline this much better.

    • Qrfan says:

      That’s the end of the ihg premium card for me. Perpetually disappointed with ihg offerings and with Amex acceptance so high in the uk the only real use it gets is overseas via curve. No longer worth the fee to me.

      • Rob says:

        Seems illogical to me.

        You’re getting 0.8p of IHG points per £1 spent with wipes the floor with virtually all other Visa / MC products. If you spend £10k and get a £200 free night, that’s another 2% return which takes you to a huge 2.8% return.

        Plus Platinum Elite status, plus a decent step up towards Spire Elite.

        As you get 25,000 bonus IHG points for hitting Spire Elite, you can even treat that as a 25,000 point bonus for spending £27,500 even if you do ZERO IHG stays.

        This means £27,500 of expenditure even for someone with no cash stays gets you:
        55,000 base points worth @ 0.4p = £220
        Free night voucher worth £200 if used well
        25,000 bonus points worth £100

        This is £520 return on £27,500 of spend for a £99 fee, so 1.5% net.

        Spend just £10k and you get:
        20,000 base points worth £80
        Free night worth £200
        …. so £181 net gain on £10k spend, so 1.8% net.

    • Pangolin says:

      I got the same

  • Qrfan says:

    I don’t have £10k of non amex spend without curve, and diverting spend that could be earning 1.5 avios per £ and companion vouchers makes no sense. As I say, amex acceptance is very high and without curve there’s no hmrc game either.

    I’m also not convinced many ihg properties that are voucher eligible are actually worth £200 per night. The principal York certainly wasn’t, and living in the south east I have no reason to stay in London overnight.
    Where are these Chase cards you keep hinting at anyway??

  • Chrisasaurus says:

    Last minute website doesn’t seem to work anyway on either of my phones or my work laptop – the Find button once you’ve selected dates doesn’t do anything (and couldn’t even select dates on one phone)

  • Pup says:

    Just had an email to let me know that I have won 10,000 Avios from the Competition back in July from converting Nectar points to Avios.

    Thanks HfP team for the heads up!

  • Sue says:

    Sofitel seems to have disappeared from Top Secret again!

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