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[Expired] United’s Running a Sale on Transferred Miles — Is It Worth It?

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Update:The offer mentioned below has expired and is no longer available.

It’s quite rare for an airline to run a sale on transferred miles, but United Airlines is doing just that, waiving the processing fee and providing a 20% discount on the fee to actually transfer miles. If you have a lot of miles and want to transfer some to a friend to use for a trip, while expensive, this might be a good way of doing that.

Logistics of the Offer

  • This offer will run until 11:59 p.m. CT on September 30, 2023.
  • You’re able to transfer a maximum of 100,000 United MileagePlus miles in a single transaction, and it’s worth noting that you’re only able to transfer 100,000 miles per year, so you won’t be able to do more than that.
  • You can transfer miles in 500-mile increments between 500 and 5,000 miles, and you can transfer in 1,000-mile increments if transferring more than 5,000 miles.
  • Each transfer must be a minimum of 500 miles.
  • For every 500 miles you transfer, you’re charged a transfer fee of $7.50 (20% off would bring this total down to $6 per $500 miles). No matter how many miles you transfer, you’re still charged this transfer fee.
  • Any miles you transfer are good as redeemable miles only, and won’t help you towards earning any Premier status.
  • Once you transfer the miles, the transaction is final, so you won’t be able to get them back after that.
United Transfer Miles
Image Credit: United Airlines

Discounts Offered

There are 2 things United is offering as discounts. The first is the waived $30 processing fee, which is charged no matter how many miles you transfer. Ordinarily, you’d have to pay this fee even if you only transfer 500 miles.

The second thing United is doing is providing a 20% discount on the fee of $7.50 for every 500 miles transferred. Under this offer, you would pay $6 for every 500 miles you transfer. Assuming you transfer the maximum of 100,000 miles, this would equate to $1,200, which is quite a hefty fee.

Hot Tip: If possible, you’ll want to have the recipient earn the MileagePlus miles themself rather than transferring in miles, which comes at a significant cost, even with the discount. Unless you’re trying to top up their account with just a few miles, most transfers outside of these circumstances won’t make any sense.

Final Thoughts

While United is offering a waived processing fee and discounted transfer fee, the costs are still high to transfer miles and you’ll want to do the math to see if this makes sense for you. In most circumstances, you’ll be far better off earning the miles through another method over paying the transfer fees.

James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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