Sell your retail gift cards to United Airlines for MileagePlus miles

United Airlines today introduced a new program where MileagePlus members can convert their retail gift cards with balances of $25 or more into award miles. More than 60 retailers are participating and according to the FAQs, mileage “rates are determined by market pricing, which is affected by several factors.”

I have a $25 Target gift card, so decided to plug it in just to see what type of offer United would make.

The offer of 670 miles for my $25 card was more than I was expecting and it comes out to a rate of 26.8 miles per dollar, but is slightly worse than the 28.6 miles per dollar you can get by purchasing miles outright (not taking into consideration the 7.5% excise tax for MileagePlus Personal Miles). The amount is likely scaled based on the value of the gift card in question, so I’m curious to know how higher value cards would fare.

The benefit of this program is subjective, in my opinion, as it depends on whether or not you’d personally get more for your dollar redeeming gift cards as they are originally intended. Still, though, it’s a nice offering if you receive a gift card from someone for a store where you wouldn’t normally be inclined to shop.

Do any of my readers have a gift card they’re willing to plug in and then leave a comment with the mile/$ rate offer?

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Comments

  1. My friends sell me their UR for 1 cent so this seems an extremely poor proposition vs. trading GCs to someone for UR which can then be transferred to UA or CO.

  2. Yep, and bartering is against most T&C as well but funny thing there is an entire forum at FT dedicated to do just that. This GC program amounts to sanctioned highway robbery.

  3. It’s not highway robbery if they not only give you the option not to do it, but show you what you get before you make the choice. If I end up with a GC to somewhere I don’t shop, this is a nice way to spend it. And it’s better than topping off an account for a reward trip than buying a few K miles because you can find the most valuable card and buy why you need on a UA CC so you get miles for card and sale of card.

  4. Definitely another interesting way to earn miles. Hard to say if it’s such a great value unless you have GCs that you don’t plan to use lying around… I give United credit for creativity!

  5. Im curious to know if this would be worth it if you bought a gift card from Nordstrom, you get 4 bonus miles for every dollar and a dollar for dollar .

    • @harry: No, there wouldn’t be a benefit to actually purchase a gift card exclusively to redeem for this purpose. The rates to flat out “purchase miles” in MileagePlus are better (e.g., 2,000 miles for $75 at the lowest level). I’d imagine a $100 gift card would yield much less than that, even considering the 4 miles/$ to purchase it.

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