I can get a better deal on an international ticket by buying miles. I have reached my yearly limit with United - I can't buy any more miles. I found a site online that sells miles. Is buying miles this way safe? I've heard that some (all?) airlines might cancel a ticket if one uses miles purchased from third parties?
From United's website:
The sale or barter or attempted sale or barter of any such mileage, certificates, awards or benefits other than as authorized and/or sponsored by United is expressly prohibited. Any mileage, certificates, awards or benefits transferred, assigned or sold in violation of the Program Rules, in addition to exposing the member to the penalties otherwise associated with violations, may be confiscated or canceled. The use of award tickets that have been acquired by purchase, barter or other conduct in violation of Program Rules may result in termination of membership, cancellation of accrued mileage, certificates, awards or benefits, confiscation of the tickets, denial of boarding with respect to the ticket holder, and, at United's discretion, completion of the travel only upon payment of an applicable fare.
So it would appear it's not in your best interest to do so.
No - under most interpretations of "safe".
All the frequent flyer programs I am familiar with have a passage in their T&C that looks something like this:
> 7.1 Members must not: > ... > (b) abuse or misuse Qantas Frequent Flyer, any Rewards, Awards, Benefits, > facilities, services or arrangements accorded to the Member as a result of > Membership including by: > ... > (iii) selling, assigning, transferring or acquiring, or offering to > sell, assign, transfer or acquire any Reward, Award, Benefit or Qantas > Points other than in accordance with these Terms and Conditions;
The consequences of violating this can vary from having your entire FF membership revoked, to having your points balance changed, to having awards flights purchased with the points voided. It is really at the discretion of the airline.
The other factor in how "safe" it is to do this is the likelihood that you are caught, ie that the airline notices. This is your only source of "safety", and varies a lot between airlines, and probably between methods of purchasing and transferring. Qantas is one of the more strict for instance, allowing points transfers between family members only.
I've certainly heard of plenty of cases of people buying points of third party sites without getting caught or any consequences, but by no means it is "safe".
There are some third-party sites that are authorized to exchange miles for some airlines, hotels, etc. (e.g., points.com). I am not aware that United participates in any such programs, however.
If you travel on an award ticket purchased from anyone, the airline might let you travel the outbound leg, but when you arrive at the airport to fly back home, inform you that your ticket is void and your option is to purchase a full-fare one-way ticket.
If you have a mileage credit card another option would be to "purchase" an item through PayPal or Square. You pay the 2-3% credit card fee, which is often the same as the cost of buying miles.
Open a PayPal account and make a buy button for a product and go from there...
You could also buy your own product on eBay etc...
The only difference is you have to wait for your credit card statement for the miles to come through...