When Buying Ultimate Rewards Makes Sense & When It Doesn’t

Did you know that you can purchase Ultimate Rewards points?

There is a limit that only allows you to purchase 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points per month.

How do I purchase Ultimate Rewards?

  1. Sign into your Ultimate Rewards account.
  2. On the top navigation menu click on “Manage Ultimate Rewards”.
  3. On the right hand sidebar, click on “Purchase Points”.

Points cost $25 per 1,000 points.  That means 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points would cost $125.

The Math When Buying Ultimate Rewards to Transfer

Buying points to use to book travel through Ultimate Rewards

You get a 20% bonus when booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards site.  That means you’d only get $120 value out of your $125.

Verdict: Avoid

Buying points to use to transfer to an airline or hotel partner

Here are the regular rates by which you can purchase points:

  1. United – you can buy 5,000 United miles for $188.13.  See details here.
  2. British Airways Avois – 5,000 Avios costs $163.  See more here.
  3. Southwest Rapid Rewards – 5,000 points cost $125.  Learn more.
  4. Korean Airlines – I couldn’t find a way to buy miles.
  5. Hyatt – 5,000 points will cost $120.  Information here.
  6. Marriott – 5,000 points total out to $62.50.  Learn more.
  7. Priority Club – $67.50 is the price for 5,000 points.  Details here.
  8. Ritz-Carlton – I don’t see any way to buy points.
  9. Amtrak – 5,000 points will cost $137.50.  Learn more.

Here’s a list of the programs you should never buy Ultimate Rewards with the intention of transferring to:

Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, and Priority Club.

Why?

You could buy the points for less or equal amounts directly through the airline/hotel webiste.

A list of programs it could make sense buying Ultimate Rewards points to transfer to:

United, British Airways, and Amtrak.

When to Buy Ultimate Rewards

Before buying UR, I’d always try and find ways to ‘fabricate’ spending in order to get the needed miles.  If you can find a clearance item at an office supply store, you’ll be able to get the item for 5x and then resell it for the same price.  You may be able to buy discounted gift cards and resell them.  (That sort of thing…)

I’d never speculatively buy points.  In other words, don’t buy points without a purpose in mind.

I’d never buy points if I had the opportunity to apply for an Ultimate Rewards credit card and get the bonus.

I would buy Ultimate Rewards points to top off an account with United, British Airways, and Amtrack.

Let’s say that you’re trying to book an expensive flight overseas.  However, you’re 5,000 United miles short.  In this case, it could make sense to buy 5,000 UR to transfer to United.  Again, I’d only do this if I exhausted every other option to get those 5,000 points.

Personally, I don’t have any plans to buy Ultimate Rewards in the near future, but I want you to be aware of the possibility in case it made sense in your situation.

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