100% Bonus on Purchased US Airways Miles is Back for Many

US Airways is running a 100% bonus for mileage purchases through November 30.

For purchases of 50,000 miles you get 50,000 bonus miles, and your 100,000 miles cost you 1.88 cents per mile.

It’s targeted, but seems targeted fairly broadly. I was eligible. The way you know if you are is that the purchase miles page first requires you to enter your name and account number.

At that stage you will either be confronted with the other or you won’t be. but don’t fret!

If by chance you aren’t, you probably will be next month — or being targeted won’t be required.

The last time they ran this targeted was in July. Then August they ran it non-targeted. October of course was the much better 100% share miles bonus.

US Airways IT Challenges Making Bookings Limit Value Somewhat

US Airways has been dubbed the ‘consolidator of Star Alliance premium class seats’ (credit to eponymous coward) since seats that aren’t expected to be sold (distressed inventory) tend to be offered as awards, and US Airways has been the most aggressive about letting members straight up buy those seats cheaply via purchased miles — even putting awards on hold before buying the miles (which post instantly).

Here’s my guide to using US Airways miles to book awards.

US Airways though has difficulty ‘seeing’ some partner award inventory, especially Lufthansa’s and especially intra-Europe though also transatlantic and also ANA space as well. That makes the miles a bit less valuable.

Open Question: the American Merger and the Airline’s Alliance Future

It remains to be seen whether US Airways will remain in Star Alliance. First, they may or may not merge with American Airlines. The merger is the subject of a Department of Justice lawsuit which is set for trial in late November. It could be decided in court or settled. If the merger goes through, US Airways joins oneworld and mileage accounts get combined with American miles. If the merger doesn’t, well, their alliance future remains a question.

While buying US Airways miles can get you Star Alliance awards now — bookable through the end of airlines’ schedules — you’ll still be able to buy miles cheap on a regular basis for Star awards once US Airways leaves the alliance. When Avianca sells miles with a 100% bonus the cost is 1.5 cents per mile, and they allow one-way awards without Starnet blocking though if you can’t book the flights you want online (and you can’t book awards in a mixed class of service at all) their call centers can be difficult to worth with.

No Airfare Spending Bonuses for the Mileage Purchase

US Airways mileage purchases are processed by points.com which means they don’t show up as airfare, and thus don’t earn bonuses from credit cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred (double points) or American Express Premier Rewards Gold (triple points) that bonus airfare spend.

Should You Buy Miles With This Offer?

If you’re targeted then consider that 1.88 cents per mile is cheaper than most airlines ever offer to sell their points.

But buying miles at a 100% bonus from US Airways used to be an amazing deal. Four years ago their award chart was less expensive (e.g. 80,000 miles for business class to Europe). And prior to September 2010 miles normally cost 2.5 cents apiece. In October 2011 they raised the standard price of miles to 3.5 cents apiece.

Since US Airways runs mileage purchase bonuses nearly every month, though sometimes targeted and other times in varying amounts, they’ve more or less jacked up the price only to be able to discount it, making the discounts look better than they actually are. (See also ‘Groupon’.)

Make no mistake, they can still be a good deal, but not good enough in my view to stock up miles speculatively. Instead, I’d use this deal to top off an account towards a specific award or to buy outright a ticket that you can immediately book (getting airfare at a discount).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. You said US Airways has difficulty ‘seeing’ some partner award inventory. Can you solve my puzzle? I am trying to book an award using US Airways miles from SFO-LAX-PEK-BKK. Only one flight (UA) from SFO-LAX segment shows award availability on that particular day. When I log into my United account I see three more flights. I do not have any status but just the UA Mileage Plus explorer card. US Airways reps do not see those flights. How is that possible? and what should I do?

  2. As some one who has been there and done that, please do not forget to add the 30$ fee to the actual price. So it works put to 1911.25 for the 100k miles.

    It is disingenuous to omit standard fees that will surely be added on.
    It is amazing that all bloggers do not add the fees, but points.com does not forget!

  3. @ffi – check again. Proceed to the page where they take payment information. “The cost to buy 50,000 + 50,000 Bonus miles is $1,881.25 (including taxes/fees)*” Nothing disingenuous here. The front page shows 50k + 50k miles for $1750 and I top off to $1881.25 in my post showing the full cost.

  4. @caveman – Your mileage plus explorer card is giving you access to elite award space on united.com that is not available to you on USairways, or even through United’s call centers.

  5. Hey Gary,

    Next year in July, my wife and I have a trip planned to Japan, Hong Kong and Guam via a combination of United Miles and Lifemiles. We jumped in the US Airways share miles promotion and got 80k and 85K miles. I’m thinking if it makes sense to cancel the initial booking with Lifemiles and United (I believe it would cost $250 in fees) to go ahead and use the 90k miles to Asia via Europe as you pointed out in your blog. My fear is that once US Airways merge with AA (if it happens) this great deal will disappear. I would have to wait until around June 2014 to book a trip around June 2015 with US Airways, and I’m not sure if by next year, the merge would have gone through and the award chart changed.

    Do you think I should use US Airways miles instead and use this promotion to top both accounts to 90K?

  6. The round-trip only aspect of USDM is what puts me off. My trips are usually around 4 weeks long and it makes me crazy to have to wait for the return date to be in booking range while praying the outbound doesn’t disappear.

  7. I was targeted once again. I have bought 400k in the past and do so when I know I will be doing Business class trips. Just booked a trip BOS to DUB and had to take it Economy since there are NO Bus to Ireland and we have to go via MUC-FRA by LH. That is unless we want to use 2 times the points.

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