Sunday Reader Question: How To Get 20,000 US Airways Miles Quickly?

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TPG reader Vishal has a question about the current US Airways 100% bonus on purchased miles:

“I am trying to get my father a ticket to Mumbai (India) from Atlanta. I have 0 miles in my US Airways account. The miles required for a roundtrip ticket is 120,000 for business class. With this 100% bonus, I can only purchase up to 100,000 miles (50,000 miles purchased plus the 50,000 miles bonus). How do I get the remaining 20,000 miles? Any suggestions? I have already put an itinerary on hold but only for a week. What is the best way to get the extra 20,000 miles quickly?”

A very interesting query. As Vishal points out, he can only get up to 100,000 miles with the 100% bonus. That’s by purchasing 50,000 miles for the normal price of 3.5 cents each plus a 7.5% tax for a total of $1,881.25, and getting a bonus 50,000 miles.

However, just because you have maxed out the bonus doesn’t mean you can’t simply purchase another 20,000 US Airways miles. The cost of doing so would be $752.50, bringing your total to $2,633.75. That’s certainly not the cheapest way to go about getting miles, but if you’re looking to top up your account in a hurry, it could be the best option for you.

That’s especially true considering the best price I could find on an itinerary via US Airways from Atlanta to Mumbai this summer (via Charlotte and Frankfurt) was $5,971, so you’d be getting this ticket at a discount of over 55%.

Though buying all the miles necessary would be expensive, it’s still less than half the price of a normal ticket.

Another option would be if you had Starwood points, you could transfer 20,000 Starpoints to US Airways and score the 5,000-mile bonus, meaning you’d only have to purchase 95,000 US Airways miles through this promo. So in this case, you’d be purchasing 48,000 miles and getting a 48,000-mile bonus for a total of 96,000 US Airways miles (for a total of $1,806) and then adding your 25,000 miles from the Starwood transfer. Alternatively, you would only have to transfer 100,000 of them and you’d have 125,000 US Airways miles thanks to the usual 5,000-mile bonus on each transfer of 20,000 Starpoints.

Personally, I think the Starpoints are more valuable when you use them for hotels, but since you have a specific award in mind, this could be worth it to you. The only downside is that Starwood transfers can take up to a few weeks to go through, so you might lose the itinerary you have on hold while waiting for the miles to be credited to your account.

You can also transfer other hotel program points to US Airways, but don’t expect them to post quickly or to be good deals.

Points.com’s exchange feature is another option, but the transfer ratios are extremely inflated.

Finally, you could also consider using Points.com’s exchange feature, which allows you to transfer points in one program to points in another. I plugged in US Airways exchanges on this page, and found that for every 1,000 US Airways miles you needed, you would have to transfer 3,036 American or United miles (so 60,720 total for 20,000 US Airways Miles), 3,162 Alaska Mileage Plan or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, a whopping 6,324 Hawaiian miles, 9,486 Priority Club points, or 1,265 Virgin America Elevate miles among other choices. Generally, these seem to be prohibitively expensive beyond the odd 1,000-mile top off. One interesting exchange rate was just 1,191 Aeroplan miles you’d need for 1,000 US Airways miles, meaning that to get your 20,000 leftover miles, you’d need just 23,820 Aeroplan miles. That doesn’t seem so bad, especially if you’ve got some American Express Membership Rewards points sitting around that you’re not using.

Still, when it comes to buying miles, your choices tend to be limited and expensive. That said, with the 100% bonus US Airways is featuring for the next month, you could still score premium tickets for significant discounts, so you should explore all your options.

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