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Purchasing miles from a frequent flyer program is usually a high-price/ low-value way to add some miles to your account, and is generally only a last resort if you need to top up your account for a particular award. But every so often there are some purchased-mile bonuses that might be worth it to some travelers.
Earlier this week, US Airways Dividend Miles and Points.com announced a joint promotion that could earn you up to a 100% bonus on purchased miles if you join points.com, which is free to join. This amounts to buying US Airways miles at 1.87 cents each, so is it a good deal? I generally think yes, but it depends on how you use those miles.
Some people think that US Airways has awful award availability, but the real issue is that their website does not show any availability for the other 26 Star Alliance carriers . They have the same Star Alliance availability as United or Aeroplan, it’s just that they don’t show it on their website- you have to call 1-800-428-4322 to book an award, though they will waive the phone booking fee since partner awards are not bookable online.
It’s actually split up into two separate 50% bonuses: one that should post right away and the 50% bonus for being a points.com member which should post by June 5, 2012.
So you get an automatic bonus when you buy miles from US Airways here, and then you get an extra 50% bonus by registering your Dividend Miles account with Points.com. There are a few more conditions, though.
Each frequent flyer account can only purchase up to 50,000 miles at the rate of 3.5 cents each. Your account must be older than 12 days to purchase miles as well.
Let’s take a couple examples. say you just wanted to book yourself a low-level business class ticket from North America to Europe on US Airways. That would require 100,000 miles, so with this promotion, you’d only have to purchase 50,000 miles for $1,750 plus $131.25 in taxes for a total of $1,881.25. A quick search of flights showed business class tickets from Charlotte to Paris in September for $2,906 plus $186 in taxes. By buying the miles with this promotion, you’ve saved yourself about $1,000.
But a premium international route where this might be worth it came up when we searched tickets from Phoenix to Tokyo in business class, which you would fly on US Airways’ Star Alliance partner of ANA. We found tickets in July for $6,626 plus $98 in taxes. The same itinerary would require just 90,000 miles, which you could purchase for $1,575 plus $118.13 in taxes ($1,693 total). Buy purchasing those miles, you’ve just saved yourself almost $5,000!
As always, it depends on your travel needs and the award you intend to redeem your miles for. If you are hoping for low-level domestic coach redemptions or even awards on competitive international routes, you’re probably better off just buying tickets. However, US Airways is a Star Alliance member and has a pretty generous award chart, so if you are hoping to redeem premium class awards on expensive routes with low taxes, then you could definitely reap some value from this promotion.
For more information on maximizing US Airways awards, check out this post.