Last Day to Buy US Airways Miles for Just 1.1 Cents Apiece

US Airways brought back their “up to a 100% bonus on shared miles” (miles transferred between accounts) for just this week. So if you want to take advantage of it, today’s your last opportunity until and unless the bonus returns. And since it’s been a US Airways practice but not an American AAdvantage practice, the merger with American makes future such bonuses somewhat uncertain.

You can earn up to 50,000 bonus miles with the offer, which should appear instantly with the transfer.

The cost for this is “$0.01 per mile plus a processing fee of $30 and a tax recovery charge of 7.5%” — transferring 50,000 miles from one account to another will deposit 100,000 in that account at a cost of $567.50.

Since that’s a net increase of 50,000 miles you’re buying miles at $0.01135 per mile. At that price I’m a buyer.

What I love about US Airways is awards in premium cabins on Star Alliance partner airlines, and a generally reasonable award chart — in some cases downright generous such as 90,000 miles roundtrip between the US and Hong Kong, and 110,000 miles roundtrip between the US and Australia or Africa. Here’s my guide to using US Airways miles to book Star Alliance awards.

What I don’t love about US Airways is that there are no one-way awards at half the cost of round trip, and no changes to an award ticket once travel has commenced. In addition, US Airways has had challenges ‘seeing’ some Lufthansa award space and even some ANA award space, my sense is that this is the result of a technical glitch that US Airways has not at all seemed eager to solve (“a feature not a bug”).

Since it’s now been nearly four years since they increased prices across the board on their award chart, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another round of increases — held in check by the impending American Airlines merger — in the near term I’d expect to see some harmonization of their award charts, generally in the upward direction (e.g. it wouldn’t surprise me to see US to North Asia in business class going from 90,000 miles to 110,000) and over time I’d expect to see awards become moderately more expensive still.

It’s still hard to go wrong at less than 1.2 cents apiece. This is a great way to buy miles in conjunction with a friend (you transfer to them and they back to you) as well as a great way to clean out orphan accounts.

Two caveats: Accounts need to be open for a dozen days to transfer, so you cannot open a new account to take advantage of this promotion. And transferring between two accounts in the same name is a recipe for an account audit.

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, 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. If you pay with US Air mastercard, do you get double miles (and thereby lower the effective price)?

  2. I can confirm that US Airways miles CAN NOT book Lufthansa awards in business or first. Apparently the system can book some on Lufthansa business on Saturday departures or Wednesday departures.

    Do you have any route tips for getting to Hong Kong. I was looking from March-May, and couldn’t find a weekend from the west coast to Hong Kong that had 2 business seats going on a Friday and returning the following Monday. Is there any asian routes that have excellent availability in First or Business?

  3. I’d buy more, but sadly these US miles will likely become AA miles before I get to use them…and I really don’t need more AA miles.

    On a related note, I once again will need to find a new way to book partner awards on Turkish. Several years ago (before TK joined Star Alliance) they had an arrangement with AA so that was great for getting award flights to Turkey. Then they joined Star and that was the end of that. For the past several years I’ve been using US miles to redeem for TK…but now that is about to end as well. What do you think the best option will be going forward? ANA?

  4. Eek! I am trying to take advantage of this promo. I can’t transfer my MR or UR very easily or in time to take advantage. I’ll send you the cost to transfer 50k miles to me! 🙂 🙂 It wouldn’t hurt to ask. Hate having to pass on a deal. Frustrated that MR/UR points don’t transfer easily.

  5. I thought the title is a bit misleading, you need to have enough miles in order to share miles not just buying them, am I missing something?

  6. Ugh. I’m so on the fence with this. I can’t stand USAir miles…I only want AA miles. Which is why I just got the USAir Mastercard…hoping the miles will transfer to AA in Marchish. If I transfer 50 to my husband, I’ll have 85k miles and he’ll have 99k in USAir. But, I don’t want to be stuck with USAir. I can never use them for what I want.

  7. @Mike – I don’t think Turkish air is much of an option with US Dividend Miles.

    I was looking at IST-LAX and other US cities. I think I found like 2 days from January to June with availability in business class. So even if you have the miles, not sure if you can use them (unless you want those exact 2 days 🙂

  8. Nic —

    Considering the merger is going to close first thing Monday morning and US Airways and American will be one company then, I don’t see any risk whatsoever that you’d be “stuck” with Dividend Miles.

    That said, I think Dividend Miles are now more valuable than AAdvantage Miles because the Star Alliance has better availability than oneworld and US has a VERY attractive int’l premium cabin award chart. So I’d reconsider your aversion to using them before they get transferred to AAdvantage. Indeed, if the company allows, I’d look to TRANSFER some of your AAdvantage miles into Dividend Miles and redeem under the current chart!

  9. Nic – Let me know if you want to transfer some of those miles to me. I’ll be more than happy to pay the fee to transfer it ahead of time. I am really trying to get this promo.

  10. I just ran across a case where I couldn’t book a domestic award on UA using Dividend Miles – the USAir agent couldn’t see the UA Saver space. According to her, UA doesn’t release all saver space to partners. Of course, I had no difficulty booking the award on Aeroplan and for less in fees.

  11. I finally broke down and spent cash for miles. I feel so dirty. 😉

    Gary, your recent article about marginal value of miles made me think: The second 50k miles are worth more per mile than the first 50k. They give you options to redeem for longer trips and/or premium cabin trips. This is especially true given this program’s requirement for round trip bookings.

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