My Strategy for 100,000 Bonus Miles in the US Airways Grand Slam Promo

Last month I outlined the US Airways Grand Slam promotion which began this past week. It’s come around each of the past couple of years, so lots of experience with it, every year they tweak the rules just a little bit but it still remains rather lucrative. But basic gist is bonus miles for transactions with various partners, starting at 3000 bonus miles for 4 partners and going all the way up to 110,000 bonus miles for 40 partners if you’re also a US Airways elite. And three of the milestones along the way even let you earn elite qualifying miles, too.

The hard thing is this — US Airways can often be acquired so cheaply, by straight up buying them, that it often doesn’t seem like it’s worth a lot of effort to earn them. So I tended to agree with Lucky that while fun, I wasn’t going to go all-in with this. Why spend, say, a penny per mile with a lot of work when you can just buy miles at less than 1.4 cents in single transaction when they’re running a 100% purchase bonus for doing so?

Except, there are plenty of transactions that I can make anyway in my daily life and daily travels, at some margin I’m induced to credit those transactions over to US Airways, and this bonus sort of gets me there. Plus, it’s like a scavenger hunt or road rally, it’s fun.

Here are the rules, registration is required, the promotion runs through November 14. This Wiki does a good job explaining the promotion and various ways to earn partner credits. This Wiki goes into great detail on the various partners.

Mommy Point described her first 10 transactions for under $50, getting her to 10,000 bonus miles. Then she posted about her strategy going forward. Darius from Million Mile Secrets is also on the case.

Here’s what I’m up to… I started with easy, quick hits.

Transferring points from other programs into US Airways miles. I have a bunch of hotel points, and this promo tempted me to move some of them over to US Airways. You need a minimum of 850 US Airways miles from a transfer for it to count as a hit, so no 1 mile transfers from Starwood for SPG Platinums. SPG Gold members transfer a minimum 1500 points, if memory serves general members have a 2500 point minimum. In addition to an SPG transfer, I did Marriott, Priority Club, Best Western, and Hilton for 5 hits. Then I moved 4 American Airlines miles into 1 US Airways mile at for a sixth hit.

I redeemed — yes, redeemed — 500 US Airways miles for a magazine subscription I didn’t want with Magazines for Miles. I downloaded the Dividend Miles Toolbar and did 3 internet searches (before disabling the toolbar) to earn 1 mile. Boom, that’s 8 hits and enough for 10,000 bonus miles.

I’m checking into a Hyatt for a one-night stay this evening, I’ll earn 500 US Airways miles instead of about 650 Hyatt points, for a hit. If I do 6 one-night stays, that’ll be six hits. If I do six one-day car rentals, that’s another six hits — for things I’d be doing anyway. And that’s a total of 20 hits.

And that really puts me within shooting distance of 36 hits for 100,000 miles. (It’s possible to earn 110,000 miles for 40 hits if you are a US Airways elite member, but I am not — and while you can buy trial preferred, become an elite member, and earn a hit for doing so — it’s not worthwhile for just an extra 10,000 bonus miles.)

I’ve got at least 14 of the hits squarely in my sights. You’d think I would need only two more than my current list, then, but I don’t always trust the online shopping portals and though I track all of my activity in a spreadsheet and can follow up to make sure that things post, when I’m dealing with this many miles I want to have a backup partner or two in the chute just in case. So I want to come up with maybe four more ‘hits’ than I have.

Here’s what I plan to do:

  • Track it Back. I’m nostalgic as can be for them, I don’t think their product is especially useful but they’ll get $25 of my money.

  • Dividend Miles Mall. Sure, Amazon only earns one mile per dollar but I buy from them all the time.

  • Netflix. My wife has been the subscriber in our household for years, it’s hard to imagine that I haven’t done the signup for points thing, right? But I’m going to sign up for six months even if I don’t use it.

  • Office Max. Some folks are concerned that there’s no place to enter your mileage number, I haven’t checked it out yet but assume that being logged in to your US Airways account will track things properly.

  • Super Shuttle. Mommy Points says that a trip from DFW Airport to the DFW Hyatt will post, even if (when) you no show your reservation. She used used coupon code UYR59 to take $3 off a one-way reservation, and then gave half the savings back in the form of a pre-paid tip. Update: Frugal Travel Lawyer suggests Phoenix airport to the Aloft Phoenix Airport for $4 with this coupon code.

  • Thanks Again. When another 80% off coupon code comes out I’ll purchase that through Thanks Again registered to US Airways.

  • Buy Miles. I didn’t go in on the purchase miles 100% bonus, I didn’t want to do 10,000 miles which was the minimum necessary to earn a big bonus. But that’s because I already have a pretty hefty stash. I’ll just do 1000 miles with no bonus, or wait a bit towards later in the promotion to see if another bonus comes out, this time on smaller purchase increments.

  • Share Miles. My wife and I will each get a hit when I steal 1000 miles from her account.

  • iDine/Rewards Network. I registered a credit card that wasn’t attached to a dining for miles account with any airline to the US Airways dining program. One lunch that I’d eat anyway will generate a hit.

  • 1-800-Flowers, FTD, and Teleflora. My wife is special. She’ll get flowers.

  • Audience Rewards. If I don’t get their trivia questions right for points I’ll just buy $10 worth of tickets.

  • Biscoff. Mmmm, I can feel just like I’m on an Express carrier even when I’m home!

Normally I’d transfer e-miles over to US Airways, I signed up originally with that survey site via US Airways, but I haven’t been participating in it or e-rewards surveys because I’ve just been too busy. It’s always been convenient to be able to drop a few points over for partner promotions just like this but I’ve found myself a bit flat-footed with them at the moment.

So I’ll have to come up with a couple more at least. But 34 will be easy and cheap in terms of effort and cost at the margin.

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. I’m doing the DFW-Hyatt trip today, yet here I sit in MGM. Did the same trip last year, $12 – any discount. Funny thing, I actually looked at a map this year to see if there was anything closer. The Hyatt is literally in the airport. I can’t imagine why anyone would ever legitimately hire Supershuttle for this trip.

  2. Another hotel transfer that is easy is Club Carlson. They have a special for a 3 day Avis rental, one gets 9000 points. You can then transfer 8000 for 2000 US airways miles for a hit. I know you like the 3000 point special that avis is running for a transfer to US Air, but if someone needs the extra hit in a pinch, giving up net 1000 US air miles to receive another tier bonus can make sense, especially at the upper tiers. 🙂

  3. Re car rental. For those traveling through manhattan, rent an hourly hertz for $15. Pick it up in Manhattan and drop it off at the airport. If you go over queensboro bridge, there is no toll. Both the triborough and midtown tunnel have tolls. There is no refueling charge for the hourly rental and you get 200 free miles. This rental can get pricey if you go over two hours as it reverts to an exorbitant rate. I have a few of these booked over the next few weeks. Half the price (sans tax) of the cab to LGA and more fun cause it counts as a hit. (assuming you can make it within the hour) 🙂

  4. A small skymall purchase is a no brainer.

    If you have a BoA checking account sign up for the US Airways debit card. No credit inquiry. Annual fee is $30 but you get 3K miles after the first purchase (which will count as a hit). Of course, if you already have the debit card just make a purchase for the hit.

    If you haven’t done TD Ameritrade before I think it’s worth parking $2500 for ~6 months to get 5K miles and a hit. At current interest rates the lost interest on $2500 would be less than $20. Same for ShareBuilder.

  5. Love that you are playing! It’s just too easy and fun not to. Crediting Hyatt stays (especially on cheap rates) is a no-brainer, especially when you still get your Diamond amenity points. I’ll be doing that myself. 😉

  6. In re: Jim L = Hertz hourly rates starting at $12 an hour at all Manhattan, Boston Park Plaza & Stamford Metro Center locations (wish they had it in Atlanta!)

    As an added bonus, they’re giving hourly renters invites for a complimentary one year Hertz #1 Club Gold membership ($60 value).

  7. Re: Jim L & Karlyn – For the Grand Slam you only earn a hit on “every mileage-earning car rental”. On the Hertz/US Airways partner page it says you will earn “50 miles a day for qualifying rentals between 1 and 4 days”. If you rent for 1 hour – how will you earn miles or do you even earn miles? I don’t see anything on the Hertz OnDemand website that indicates anything about earning US Airways miles with an hourly reservation. Did you see something different somewhere?

  8. Just got off the phone with Hertz On Demand – they do not award any miles for any rentals with them – so this will not work for Grand Slam hits.

  9. @Nun it wasn’t very expensive, but it wasn’t a mattress run. I do often find cheap Hyatts out by Dulles, at least I sure did the last time they were running faster free nights…

  10. @Jim L. – please do let me know how it goes. I think from reading the FlyerTalk thread that it might work if it is done through the website and not the Hertz On Demand service. I called and spoke to someone at Hertz On Demand and they said flat out they do not award miles – so maybe if you do hourly from Hertz it will work.

  11. Hi Gary, I have been reading your blogs for some time, love your detailed posts! This is my 1st grand slam so I am doing it carefully to avoid foul balls. You mentioned that the “Phoenix airport to the Aloft Phoenix Airport $4 after coupon” route on SuperShuttle for a hit. I read on FT that only the DFW airport location gave out hits last year based on “No-Show”, but other locations didn’t work. Is that correct?

  12. @KR I was passing along a suggestion from another blog, but I don’t know for sure it would work, I did the DFW route myself — and of course no guarantee it still works! The good thing is we’re still early enough in grand slam that we should know with plenty of time left whether each one does.

  13. update on manhattan car rental- smooth as silk, except for the police presence by the UN. Reciept is under $15 and says 50 miles were awarded. Now lets see what posts!

  14. any ideas on how to get a cheap hit for Wine Insiders or Vinesse without expensive subscriptions? thanks

  15. You’ve mentioned you have a spreadsheet for tracking your miles. Any chance there’s a blank template you’d be willing to share?

  16. Gary, for a Thanks Again hit, has a 80% coupon code good through 30 Sept that I just used and works…code is FALL at checkout.

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