In the conviction that more earning and redemption opportunities are always better, travel-loyalty programs have cobbled together relationships with businesses of every imaginable stripe, allowing program members to pad their mileage accounts with mortgage loans, online shopping, vehicle purchases, and on, and on.
While there have been opportunities to earn miles for utilities, I can not recall a major airline or hotel program offering miles for gas purchased at the pump. United Airlines and gas retailer BP have changed that.
Beginning this week, Mileage Plus members can earn and redeem miles for gas purchases at participating BP stations.
The earning rate varies as follows:
- 1 mile for every gallon of fuel purchased
- 2 miles for every gallon purchased with a linked credit or debit card
- 3 miles for every gallon of premium gas purchased with a linked card
On the redemption side, 60 MileagePlus miles can be used to purchase 50 cents worth of gas, when purchased with a linked credit or debit card.
To participate, MileagePlus members will have to join BP Driver Rewards (free), and link the two accounts, and also link a credit or debit card to maximize earnings.
Deal or No Deal
Think slow and steady here. Even at the maximum three miles per gallon, that’s a paltry 45 miles for an average 15-gallon fill-up. Fill up twice a week and you’re earning 360 miles a month, or 4,320 miles a year.
That won’t get you Bali on a free ticket anytime soon.
The value proposition on the redemption side isn’t much stronger. Using 60 miles for 50 cents worth of gas amounts to getting less that 1 cent per mile in value. You could do better. Much better.
Still, these are miles earned for essentially doing nothing, exerting no extra energy and spending no extra money.
Reader Reality Check
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.