United’s Premier Accelerator Rates Have Dropped… But Still Pricey

I never really paid attention to United’s Award and Premier Accelerator program until just recently. If you’re not familiar with it, the program allows you to purchase redeemable MileagePlus miles with the option to add Premier Accelerator giving you an equivalent amount of Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs).

The offer appears on each of your ticketed reservations on United.com and is also displayed during the check-in process. Since my mileage balance is always healthy and I haven’t needed to worry about hitting my desired elite level in previous years, I’ve always passed on the offers not paying much attention to them.

I may be changing up my travel this year and in the past month I started looking more closely at the PQM offers and reading up on them a bit on Flyertalk. It appears the pricing fluctuates quite frequently with lower rates typically offered at the beginning of each year and prior to hitting a new elite level.

Here’s an offer I received last week for an upcoming reservation:

The $1,260 displayed would provide 60,000 redeemable miles. At 2.1 cents-per-mile (CPM), that’s actually not a terrible rate when compared to purchasing miles outright using the Buy Miles program. It would cost me $2,257.60 to get 60k miles there. And 2.1 CPM ends up being about double the rate I’d earn redeemable miles on a normal mileage run. But I’d rather just fly and earn miles the “fun” way, so I probably wouldn’t ever buy miles under this program. It’s an option to consider, though, instead of Buy Miles if you’re looking to top-off your account.

But more glaring in that offer is the rate for Premier Accelerator. Wow! Only an additional $15,000 to get 60k PQMs?! Premier Accelerator isn’t separate from Award Accelerator, so you’d have to buy both to get the PQMs. At a total of $16,260, that’d be 27.1 CPM for 60k PQMs. Waaaay out of my threshold of tolerance.

Today, though, I logged in to find the following offer on the same reservation:

The price for Premier Accelerator dropped by nearly $10,000 to an all-in level of 10.6 CPM to buy 60k PQMs. That’s still pricey, but it dropped significantly. And it’s still well more than I’d probably ever pay if I had several thousand dollars just sitting around with no other purpose. This rate, however, seems to be the lowest CPM United has gone as of recently for purchasing PQMs.

As an elite, the mileage amounts offered (usually two options) are generally a specific number rounded off to the thousand and based somewhat on the total amount of miles flown on the reservation in question. Non-elites, I’ve read on Flyertalk, seem to get offers either doubling or tripling the miles flown on the corresponding reservation. And it appears people have been successful in booking a refundable ticket, buying the Premier Accelerator and canceling the reservation getting their money back for the ticket and keeping the PQMs. That’s something to consider if you’re in a bind for “cheaper” redeemable miles and PQMs.

Would you or have you purchased Award and Premier Accelerator?

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Comments

  1. Being able to buy your way two-thirds to 1K for only $5,000 actually doesn’t sound that bad. Good for people with more money than time. But still not a good idea for most people.

  2. Recalling previous times I have looked at Award Accelerator, PQMs were about 11cpm (not including required award mile purchase). I have noticed that when not logged into my account, the award mile offer costs about half as much as when I am logged in.

    • @Kris: I’ll have to try it logged out and notice any changes.
      @Cristina: If it were a smidge lower cpm, I’d be more prone to consider it strongly, but yes… I’m sure there are many takers at current levels.
      @Kevin: Correct, these don’t count toward lifetime. 🙁

  3. if ure already at 80K EQM but can’t fly between now and end of year due to family obligations, then 11cpm is excellent to top up to 1K

    But I understand UA’s pricing sneakiness here : early in the year where no one needs EQM yet, they offer huge sale. By end of 2013 when everyone is shuffling to requalify then they’ll jack the rates up to 27cpm.

  4. My own observations on this.

    They are set up in blocks of 4k miles. So even if you have just a 250 mile flight you will get a 4k miles / PQM offer.
    My offered PQM’s have all been for 9 cents per mile (plus the cost of the Miles accelerator purchase).

  5. Can you purchase premier accelerator prior to checking in for your return flight or must you purchase premier accelerator prior to your departing flight?

    i.e. if I fly from EWR-ORD round trip, can I still purchase premier accelerator prior to checking in for the ORD-EWR bound flight? Or must I purchase premier accelerator prior to checking into the EWR-ORD flight?

    • @Kathleen: I’m sorry for the delay in getting to your comment… have been Wi-Fi-less for a bit. That’s a great question, but sadly I don’t know the answer. I know the regular “buy miles” screen pops up on a kiosk when checking-in for a return flight, but I’ve never clicked into it to see if it also includes Premier Accelerator. Hopefully another reader can/will answer.

  6. I was 162 miles from keeping my status (!) and called mileage plus (through the premier line). I miscalculated and can’t take a trip in the next few days to earn the miles. In years past, I have been 1) simply given the roughly thousand miles to keep the status, or 2) been told that the “end of year buy up to 5k of PQM using your existing miles” program would definitely be possible. This year….nothing. Instead, I was (helpfully?) advised about how to purchase a ticket, and once ticketed, to get the premier accelerator. I booked a short flight DC-BOS for February, and I got the miles accelerator ($33 for 1000 miles) and for $160 more, I got 1000 PQM. All told, not a bad deal.

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