US Airways 50% Miles Transfer Bonus Until July 31, 2012 – Worth It?

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Fast on the heels of the recently ended 100% bonus on purchased US Airways miles comes another promotion, this time for a bonus of up to 50% on shared or transferred miles. This offer is good until July 31, 2012 and accumulates in the following increments:

Miles : Bonus
1,000-9,000 miles : 10%
10,000-19,000 miles: 20%
20,000-29,000 miles: 30%
30,000-39,000 miles: 40%
40,000-50,000 miles: 50%

Not Impressed
Before you even ask if this is worth it, I’m going to say that I’m pretty unimpressed with both the fact that you can only take advantage of this on a single share either as donor or recipient, and the figures look a bit dismal as it costs 1 cent a mile to share plus a $30 processing fee per transaction (and a 7.5% tax for Canadian residents).

To put it in real terms, if you were going to transfer 50,000 miles to someone you know, it will cost $500 + $30 processing fee. With this 50% bonus, your recipient will also get a bonus of 25,000 miles (remember the original 50,000 were yours to begin with that were being transferred to someone else). So essentially you are buying 25,000 miles for $530 or 2.1 cents a mile. If you’d just bought 13,000 miles during the recent 100% purchase bonus, that would have cost you $489.12 for a total of 26,000 miles, or 1.88 cents a mile.

Two Scenarios
As always, whether a promotion is worth it depends on what exactly it means for you. For instance, as I pointed out in this Sunday Reader Question, you can get to Australia with a stopover in Asia (pretty much doubling the potential of your trip) in business class on great Star Alliance partners like ANA or Singapore Airlines, for just 110,000 US Airways miles. At 2.1 cents each, that would cost $2,310. (Not that you can get that many miles with this promotion since you’re capped at transferring 50,000, but to keep it in context of price.) A business-class ticket from North America to Australia via Asia would cost you well over $8,000 (probably closer to $10,000-$12,000), so you’d be coming out way ahead- especially if you are transferring miles from someone who doesn’t plan on using them anytime soon.

If, say, you were able to find an off-peak business class award ticket from North America to Europe aboard US Airways in their newly refurbished Envoy Class, it would cost you just 60,000 miles which would require a transfer of just 40,000 miles for the cost of $430 (essentially you’d be paying 2.15 cents each for those bonus 20,000 miles), and getting a ticket worth between $2,000-$3,000. Not a bad exchange, but Offpeak Awards have limited windows of availability.

Because of the limited terms of this promotion – the mileage cap, the fact that you can only get a bonus on a single transfer – all mean that it’s going to be much harder to squeeze real value out of any transfers. But if you were thinking of transferring some miles anyway so a friend or family member could reach an award-ticket threshold, then you might as well take advantage of this bonus to help them score a few extra miles into the bargain at the same price.