Published on June 27th, 2017 | by Chuck36
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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:
- Seashells: Website for Buying First-Hand Gift Cards at a Discount
- Swych App Review for Buying and Swapping Gift Cards + 5x INK + Referral Bonus ($10 Amazon Gift Card for $5)
- Review of Mygiftcardsplus – Site for Buying Brand New Gift Cards at a Discount
- Yaarlo Review – Get Cash Back for Shopping, Buying Gift Cards, and Submitting Receipts