The Value Proposition of the US Airways Grand Slam Promotion

Several days ago I shared some details of the upcoming US Airways Grand Slam promotion which offers bonus miles for qualifying activities with their partners.

Deals We Like has an excellent summary of what the promotion actually looks like.

I had been afraid that only elites would be able to qualify for the traditional highest bonus of 100,000 miles, and also that that highest bonus would require more partner activity than in the past (40 rather than 36 ‘hits’). Instead it’s more or less the standard Grand Slam offer of 100,000 miles for 36 partner activities plus an extra opportunity for an additional 10,000 miles when hitting 40 activities, if you’re a US Airways elite member. Now, since various bonus point thresholds actually offer miles towards elite status, and the 10,000 miles towards elite status are now reserved at that 40 activity tier, it may make sense to some to shoot the moon. Especially since buying temporary ‘trial preferred status’ is itself a qualifying activity under the promotion.

One Mile at a Time is skeptical of the value of the promo. For folks who will spend $1500 or more amassing 36 activities to earn 100,000 miles, they’d do just as well and with less effort just buying miles under the US Airways 100% bonus for mileage purchases. (Buying miles is a qualifying activity under this promo as well…) His advice is that if you’re going to spend much more than $500 (I’d push it to $800 or so) then it’s not worth the effort, though I would point out that if you are already maxing out the 100% purchase miles promotions then you might want to take advantage of this on top of those purchase miles bonus offers.

Like Lucky, I am unlikely to go for the full bonus. Still, I will register to take advantage of the promotion and I will accumulate some partner activities and earn some bonus miles through my regular course of participating in the program. I’ll credit some rental cars to Dividend Miles, but I do that anyway, the 3 day Avis rental 3000 mile US Airways bonus is already compelling and this promo makes it even more so. I’ll find some cheapie qualifying activities (which I’ll share back here on this blog of course.) And I’ll find myself probably at 16 hits but not anywhere near 36 (or 40).

At the same time, and while I agree with the logic that there are cheaper and easier to earn US Airways miles than investing in this promotion, these sorts of promos are just fun — scavenger hunts finding the cheapie partner activities, tracking and waiting for them all to post, and earning a big bonus for your efforts. But they don’t make it easy, and I do like my easy…

I suppose since the promo hasn’t started yet I’ll just wait for some brilliant minds to map out the ‘100,000 bonus miles for $350 strategy’ and then perhaps I will go all-in!

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. A cheap way to get credit for the Shopping Mall would be to download something on Itunes. Most of their songs are $1.29, but they do offer some for as low as 69 cents.

  2. Anyone else think it kinda sucks that Trail Preferred is only open to ppl who haven’t been elite for at least 12 months, & the ‘hit’ can’t be earned by said current or past Preferred members?

  3. I’ve been preparing for this “fun” for a year. I never fly US Airways, but thanks to you Gary, I’ve really learned to appreciate dividend miles as Star currency. My strategy is to do the 40 hits. I may even throw a few flights to US Airways as a tip of the hat, not to mention I will be preferred as a result of this joy ride. This is one of the more creative ways to earn miles and I intend to take full advantage. Good luck to us all on this one!!!!!

  4. How is there a downside to this? I suppose if you are not a regular business traveler with the ability to make your own travel arrangements, then, yes, spending a lot on hotel nights and car rentals seems a bit much.

    However, I EASILY earned the 100k last year with just regular business travel activity and a few other purchases. Aside from the car rentals and hotels (for which I was reimbursed for business travel and would have done anyway), I spent NO MORE than $300-400 tops, well worth the effort to pay attention to the promotion, keep track of stuff, and earn 100K miles.

    My sister, who travels infrequently for business, was still able to rack up 35k miles or so and she only spent around $200 tops.

    It is fun in the sense of a scavenger hunt.

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