Posted by Chuck on June 27, 2017
Reviews

Published on June 27th, 2017 | by Chuck

36

MPX Shopping Review – Earn Extra United Miles for Everyday Purchases at Popular Retailers

We’ve mentioned earning bonus United miles with MPX numerous times, and I thought it’s worth writing a formal review about the United MileagePlus X app.

Shop & Earn United Miles

Android download link, iOS download link

The MPX app allows us to earn United miles at many popular merchants on your everyday purchases. Most major US merchants can be found in the app, and by paying for your purchases through the app you can earn between .5 miles-per-dollar to 5 miles-per-dollar.

Here are some sample earning rates (at the time of this writing): Amazon and Chipotle earn .5 mile/$, Best Buy and Uber earn 1 mile/$, AirBnB and iTunes earn 2 miles/$,  Staples and Toys R Us earn 3 miles/$, GameStop and Bed Bath & Beyond earn 4 miles/$, Sephora and Domino’s earn 5 miles/$. These rates may fluctuate, and there are also occasional temporary rate increases as well.

Before using the app, it’s important to understand what the app is really doing: you’re simply buying a gift card in the exact amount you wish for the merchant you plan to shop at. You aren’t paying the store through the app at all; it’s just a gift card.

The way MPX market themselves is that when you are in a store at the register and see the amount owed, you buy a gift card through the app for that exact amount, and pay the cashier with the gift card. The gift card comes with a bar code which can be used in the physical store.

Some people get confused to think that it can only be used in-store, but that’s not the case. So long as the retailer accepts gift cards online, it can used for online purchases too by using the gift card numbers as usual.

MPX also stacks with any other rewards program, both in-store and online. Examples: You can still use an online shopping portal (the United shopping portal or any other shopping portal). Likewise, you can still use any store rewards program the store might have (e.g. Kohl’s Cash or Best Buy Rewards).

The unique thing about MPX is that they allow you to select an exact dollar amount of the gift card purchase, down to the penny, which gives it the feel as if you’re paying through the app. In actually, it’s just a precise gift card of an exact amount, no different than buying a gift card from any other online seller.

All gift card purchases are saved in the app, and can be accessed any time in the future (Menu > Purchases). I find that the easiest way to search for a specific stores is to go to Menu > Catalog > All > Search.

United Cardholders 25% Bonus

Those who have a United MileagePlus Explorer credit card get a 25% bonus on all MPX earnings (Link). For example, a $100 gift card which earns 2x will get 250 miles instead of 200. The bonus earnings might not show clearly in the app, but you should see the bonus earnings anyway. You can always do a small test purchase to make sure.

 

To get the 25% bonus you do not need to use the United card to pay. So long as a United MileagePlus credit card is associated with your United account, a 25% bonus will automatically show up in the MPX app which uses the same United account.

The Explorer and Club versions of the United card should both make you eligible for the 25% bonus, but I don’t know if the business versions of those cards will make you eligible.

Payment

Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover credit and debit cards are accepted payment forms. Any card you have saved in your United account, I believe will automatically show up in the app. You can also add a card within the app itself.

Another option the app will show is to use your United miles to pay for the gift card, more on that below.

Category Bonus

A fascinating thing we discovered about the MPX app is that it largely carries over the correct category coding of the merchant for the purposes of earning bonus credit card points. For example, buying a Starbucks gift cards in the app should code as a restaurant and earn bonus points, and if you buy an Uber gift card it should code as a travel purchase and earn bonus points. See Does MPX Carry Over the Merchant Coding for Rewards? for more info.

In other words, MPX doesn’t have a single merchant coding like most merchants do. Rather, it’s specially designed to act as if you are making the purchase at the retailer itself, and they worked out that the category coding of the purchase will carry through. Note, it won’t always work. Also, it might not work for Amex.

The app also works to trigger the Wells Fargo airline credit, apparently. Check out Payments Workshop for more specific data points.

We’ll also mention a couple of defunct MPX category angles: In the good old days, Amex used to code all MPX purchases as if it were a United airline purchase, and it worked to trigger the airline credit. Also, it’s been working to trigger 3x with the Citi AT&T card, but that’s probably end July 22, 2017.

Bugs/Errors

Many times people find the app buggy and errors out on their payments. This is a normal part of MPX life. Give it a couple of weeks or a month (let it sit completely without touching it) and try again.

When I first tried using the app, it didn’t work on multiple attempts and I basically gave up on the app. Half a year later I tried again and it worked.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Miles earned via the app post immediately to your United account. This can be useful to help top off miles needed for an award booking. For example, if you’re 25 miles short to a booking, you can buy a $50 Amazon gift card and complete the booking right away. Also, you can buy a small gift card to keep your miles from expiring.
  • Another interesting thing is that you the app allows you to pay for the gift cards in the app with your United mileage account balance. The redemption value is .64 cents per point. For example, you can buy a $100 gift card with 15,625 United miles (15,625 x .64 = $100). Obviously, getting less than 2/3 cents-per-point isn’t the best use of United miles. But it’s good to know that this option exists, especially for someone who doesn’t travel a lot and similar situations.
  • Keep in mind that you’ll lose out on your credit card warranty protections when using the MPX app since you only bought a gift card with the item, not the item itself. An interesting comment indicates that Chase apparently will honor the card protections if you buy the MPX gift card with the United credit card. Good to know. Small chance even other Chase cards will work too.
  • For most merchants you can buy the gift card in an exact amount, to the penny. Note, however, that there are a few merchants like Amazon and Starbucks where you’ll have to buy a rounded gift card.
  • Also note that there are minimum dollar amounts to the gift cards sold. The smallest I’ve seen is Staples which allows gift cards as little as $1. Most merchants have higher minimums of $5, $10, $15, $20, or $25.

Final Thoughts

Being able to buy gift cards in exact amounts is intriguing. And since the gift cards come instantly, it’s worth keeping MPX in mind for purchases that aren’t likely to be returned and don’t need credit card protections.

Similar gift card sites we’ve reviewed on Doctorofcredit:



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S Nack
S Nack

Ever since I got the Ink card I stopped using MPX completely. It’s much better to buy gift cards at cardcash before immediate use at a discount and earn 5X ur.

JD
JD

Does cardcash code as office supply store?

Daniel
Daniel

Thanks for this.

Not all merchants allow you to select an exact dollar amount though (Amazon and Starbucks don’t, for example).

It’s also important to remember you will be “loosing” benefits of paying for items with a credit card, since you’re really paying for your merchandise with a gift card. This isn’t a big deal on a book or CD, but if it’s a TV, you may still want to have your credit card protections for the purchase.

Jinx
Jinx

No. No, you are never “loosing” any benefits.

Daniel
Daniel

This is not correct. If you buy a TV and it breaks, you definitely can’t call up the extended warranty division of the credit card benefits company and expect them to repair it under that program since you paid for the TV with a gift card.

William Charles

I think he is making a spelling joke, loosing vs losing. I do the same think all the time and I’m sure Jinx understood you.

Josh
Josh

RIP Amex MPX :*(

msd2179
msd2179

Any way we can add a friend or family member’s United MPE card to our profile so we can take advantage of the 25% bonus? Really want an MPE for myself but way over 5/24 and can’t get pre-approved. Constantly targeted for the 70K offer too which is just salt in the wound.

the Financial Hippie

No, it’s tied to the United number, not the MPX app

Nobody
Nobody

It’s not a bug if you receive an error message at check out occasionally. This means you are likely (intentionally) banned by MPX temporarily. I have been banned continuously for ~4 months.

Traveling is Great
Traveling is Great

In other news…TSA agent caught stealing cash from woman’s luggage

http://nypost.com/2017/06/26/tsa-agent-caught-stealing-cash-from-womans-luggage/

Mike
Mike

I have successfully used 1) Return protection and 2) accidental damage when using my United Club Card + MPX gift card to purchase shoes and a Soda Stream. Both claims processed successfully after I showed proof the gift card was purchased with my United Club card. I’m not sure if this benefit is exclusive to Chase or Chase United Cards

Rexx
Rexx

Some of the stores have minimums that can be frustrating.

Also, not all category bonuses carry through. My CSR got travel for uber and dining for papa johns, but my Freedom didn’t get dept stores for JCP.

Stvr
Stvr

Tried to use it at Chipotle last night. Minimum gift card was $20. My burrito was $9

Chaser123
Chaser123

Buying Staples gift card with ink through app will get you 5x on ink (plus 25% bonus UA miles)

fathiss
fathiss

Staples allows you to buy a gift card with a gift card? I didn’t know that. You have tried this with the MPX gift card? Does it work for any gift card purchase (visa?) or specifically staples gift cards?

Loren
Loren

I attached my MPE to MPX and my Mileage# is shown on my card. However when I click thru to pay I do not see the 25% bonus. How do I activate This? Thanks

Kadoku
Kadoku

I used to MPX until last week, after they removed Panda Express. Now I am a sad panda.

AB
AB

They have promos now and then where they raise mileage bonuses to 10X. Plus your 25% bonus, it becomes 12.5X. When they did it for Gamestop I used it to buy amazon cards with the gamestop giftcards. Now they don’t let you do that any more. But it was pretty nice earning 1250 miles for each $100 amazon card.

el guapo

I use this just to keep United miles alive. It is too much work for the wife, unfortunately :(.

bnmsba14
bnmsba14

I’ve earned like 8k miles so far this year, I really like it. I used it at DSW one time, bought like $450 worth of shoes, but the max DSW gift card was $100, so had to buy separate ones. That was annoying, but worth the 5x United.

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