100% Bonus on Purchased US Airways Miles Expected to Return May 3

According to Loyalty Lobby, US Airways will be back with a purchase miles bonus of up to 100% between May 3 and May 25.

Over the past few years they’ve run buy miles bonuses — sometimes targeted — about 75% of the year. Which means that the 100% bonus is more or less ‘regular price’.

Nonetheless, that means they sell miles less expensively than most airlines including less expensively than American Airlines — and these miles will become American miles when the two programs merge. As a long-term play it’s cheaper to buy miles from US Airways and have them become American miles than to buy those miles from American. (One imagines that when the programs do merge, that the higher price of American miles will prevail.)

Good Deal?

At a 100% bonus, priced at around 1.9 cents per mile, I would consider it to top off an account towards a given award.

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.

Challenges and Opportunities With US Airways Miles

US Airways has difficulty ‘seeing’ some partner award inventory — even now that they’ve left Star Alliance — although it mostly seems to be agent error when they’re unable to find flights, the agents aren’t used to the systems they’re using to find oneworld space, or the booking codes for that space.

On the other hand they’re pricing awards less expensively in both miles and taxes than most other oneworld members so there’s real value here.

How to Play This

My advice is to use this offer only to top off an account towards a specific award — and you can generally place awards on hold and then buy the miles, calling back to ticket the held reservation.

I wouldn’t buy miles speculatively at nearly 2 cents apiece. There’s uncertainty about the US Airways award chart over the course of the next year. They’ve just increased the price of the famous 90,000 business class award to Hong Kong.

No Credit Card Bonuses for the Purchase Cost

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.

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. I recently took advantage of the “share miles bonus” with my wife for the full 50K. I snagged one of the 4 first class seats on TAM to GRU during the world cup in June (saving 75K btw over flying with US)!

    I politely offered the flight numbers I already had, and the agents had no problems finding the flights. I was worried they wouldn’t “see” the flights, but it was super smooth, 5 minutes later I was booked and had ticket numbers issued.

  2. The most recent USAirways share program, at maximum miles, had an effective rate of just 1.1 cents a mile. If this new version has a 1.9 cent per mile price tag, it’s a significantly different promotion.

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