Trade Your Unused Gift Cards for United Miles

TravelPulse 1/1/2020

AAA World Article

So, let us guess – you got a gift card for the holidays.
Or two.
Or three.
Or more.

It doesn’t surprise us. The gift card industry has been one of the fastest-growing segments in the country. In the 13 years between 2006 and 2018, sales of gift cards have nearly doubled – from $83 billion in ’06 to $160 billion in ’18.

It’s a great ‘out’ for purchasing presents for friends and family who are hard to buy for, but not everybody likes getting them.

Enter United Airlines.

The Chicago-based carrier has announced a MileagePlus Gift Card Exchange program that will accept unwanted gift cards and apply their value to award miles.

You need to be enrolled but the airline does allow you to join now by filling out an online form. After a 90-day waiting period, you can begin trading in gift cards for miles.

United will accept gift cards from certain retailers, fast food franchises, restaurants, even for fellow airlines American and Southwest.

According to the aviation blog The Points Guy, while the conversion rates vary it works out to about 26.6 times the balance of the card. So if you have a $100 gift card, you’re looking at about 2,660 airline miles. You can review the swap before deciding to accept or decline.

The gift cards need to have at least a $15 balance. United reserves the right to impose a maximum, so you might not be able to redeem a full boat of gift cards for enough miles for a flight, though United hasn’t said what the individual threshold will be.

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