Like many airlines, US Airways offers flyers a “Miles Multiplier” that allows you to purchase extra miles for a fee. Normally the Multiplier allows you to purchase extra miles for as low as 1.2 cents a piece (which is an amazing deal in itself) and now through September 12, the airline is offering a 50% bonus, which brings the price down as low as .8 cents each, which is a phenomenal deal.
To put this in perspective, a roundtrip business class Star Alliance award to China is only 90,000 Dividend Miles, so purchasing miles at 1.2 cents, that means you can get that award for $1,080 (plus nominal taxes and fees) and with the 50% bonus the cost drops to $720. Yes, a roundtrip business class ticket to North Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Mongolia, S. Korea, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) for $720 roundtrip!
How Dividend Miles Multiplier Normally Works
US Airways calculates the total miles you’ll earn from your flight including the following:
Flight miles (includes segment minimums for Preferred members & all Shuttle flights)
+ Class-of-service bonus (if it applies)
+ Preferred bonus miles (if it applies)
= Total miles
Then, with the Dividend Miles Multiplier you can purchase an additional set of the total miles using (double maximizer) or two extra sets using the (triple maximizer). They count the original miles that you earn for flying the flight as part of the multiplier- so don’t think you are actually buying an additional 3 sets of total miles for the price shown. Because Preferred bonus miles are included, different passengers on the same itinerary may have different mileage amounts and you cannot get the Multiplier on award redemptions.
The purchased multiplied miles post within 5-7 days of purchasing them, while the flight miles and 50% bonus post after you actually complete the flight. You can only multiply your miles when you book (and pay for) your trip at usairways.com or when you check in online.
Note: per the rules of this program you get to keep the miles even if you cancel a ticket. However there is at least one report of someone getting shut down by US Airways for using this method. I’m not sure how far they pushed it, but if you have a lot of US Airways miles at stake you should be aware of the risk.
The 50% Promo
Per the T&C the 50% bonus on Multiplier miles is awarded 1-2 weeks after completion of travel and are calculated at the time of Multiplier purchase and are not affected by changes to your itinerary. However, the bonus miles are forfeited if you cancel or otherwise don’t complete your reservation. Like normal Multiplier miles, these bonus miles are not Preferred-status-qualifying.
Maximizing the Purchase Price
US Airways prices the cost of miles sold in bands depending on how many miles you are buying. The sweet spot is figuring out a trip that comes in at just under 24,999 miles, including elite and class of service bonuses. To do this if you don’t have elite status, I recommend booking San Francisco-Tel Aviv (via Philadelphia) roundtrip awards in refundable Envoy class. The base mileage on that trip is 16,558 roundtrip and with the 50% class of service bonus the total miles is 24,836. For some reason the price to double and triple your miles was the same for me at $599, so I clearly chose the triple. That means I was able to purchase 24,836 x 2 = 49,672 Dividend Miles for $599, or 1.2 cents a piece. If I actually flew this trip and was able to get the 50% bonus, I’d bank an extra 24,836 miles, bringing the total purchase price down to .8 cents a piece!
To purchase a flight and Multiplier, go to USairways.com and go through the flight booking process. After you enter your name it will bring you to a page with your Multiplier options to review before you even put in your credit card information.
Multiplier miles used to post instantly, but lately they’ve been taking about a week to post to your account. I booked a dummy flight for a couple months down the road and even though I won’t fly it, I’m hoping (but not banking on) that I’ll still get the 50% promo. Airlines often have rules in their T&C that aren’t reflective of what actually happens. Since you get the regular Multiplier Miles even if you don’t take the flight I’m just hoping they used the same coding logic for the bonus miles as well. I’ll keep you all updated as the miles post to my account.
One more added benefit of this method of buying miles is that the miles are sold directly via US Airways so you should be able to get the travel category bonus on the Sapphire Preferred (that’s what I used, so I will confirm once the charge posts) or 3x airfare category on the American Express Premier Rewards Gold.
Also note that US Airways has a 24 Hour Refund Policy, so you should be able to cancel any ticket within 24 hours, even if it is non-refundable, which takes the risk out of using this method to purchase miles since you can always get your money back for the flight (though you won’t for the Multiplier Miles so make sure you want to purchase them at the price you agree to).
I personally value US Airways miles at 1.8-2 cents a piece, so getting them for 1.2 cents or less is an amazing deal in my opinion. The last time I purchased US Airways miles, I got in on the old 100% promo where I paid 1.478 cents a piece ($1,478 for 100,000 miles). I plan on using those miles for a business class award to North Asia (90,000 miles) or a business class award to Europe (100,000 miles). I personally think paying less than $1,500 for either of those trips is a phenomenal deal. However, if you want to redeem for domestic coach awards, the value proposition decreases drastically since those tickets are much cheaper to purchase. However, as with all things, do the math and see if buying miles at these discounted rates makes sense for you.
More Reading on the Multiplier Promo via Flyertalk