It’s not often that I get a bit of excitement from an e-mail from United, but I did have some excitement at first when I received this:
It may not be a “screaming good deal” but, if you’re going to buy magazines anyway, it might not be the worst deal, but you can do even better than United.
Getting past irrational responses
Like I admitted earlier, I got a bit excited at first, but it was because I wasn’t thinking logically. If I thought logically, I’d have seen that it would essentially be buying miles for $0.04 a mile, since I really have no need for any magazines they sell. That’s about as bad a deal as you can get. So for me, I’m passing, but I was curious enough to look at what the best deal was for today:
This made me happier at getting past my initial response to United’s e-mail. Right off the cuff, I see that Chase Ultimate Rewards has 25x, so, I can get 1 point more per dollar, and get much more flexible points. If you were really going to make a purchase though, maybe you would be best to get 52% cash back through Ebates, because, the opportunity cost of earning less than half that in points, just doesn’t work (at least not for me).
Taking the longer view
Recently, CashbackMonitor began offering a historical view of the portal offerings. FrequentMiler broke the news yesterday, and I haven’t had the chance to play around with it too much, so I thought this was a good time to check it out.
If you take a look, the two most notable things for me is: First, 35x was the high point through any travel mileages/points malls. I actually remember that, it was the American AAdvantage portal, and folks were highlighting that you could “buy miles” for $0.029 a mile… a bad value unless you wanted to get magazines anyway, in which case it wasn’t horrible. The second point is that 35x is the standard for Bank/Credit Card Points. Unfortunately its Wells Fargo, not a transferable points program like Ultimate Rewards Mall. But, better than nothing.
This is probably applicable for many aspects of life, but, if a deal looks enticing, take the wider view. When looked in a vacuum, 24x doesn’t sound bad, however, when you look at the bigger picture, even though United’s Mileage Plus Shopping portal is showing it as
12x 24x, illustrating that its better than it was, its still not as good as other options out there. That’s why, whenever I buy stuff (and I buy a lot of stuff, mostly to resell), I always go to CashbackMonitor.