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US Airways Mileage Multiplier Update: I Bought 49,712 Miles for $599

by on September 6, 2012 · 34 comments

in Buy Miles Promotions, US Airways

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Last week, I posted about US Airways’ Dividend Miles Multiplier, which allows flyers to purchase bonus miles based on actual itineraries for a fee and my plans to try purchasing bonus miles at the Miles Multiplier rates without actually having to fly.

As a reminder, 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). The purchased multiplied miles post within 5-7 days of purchasing them while the flight miles and any bonuses for Preferred elite status or class of service post, as usual, after you actually fly the itinerary.

The interesting thing is, though, that “Multiplied Miles,” are non-refundable, so once you buy them, they’re yours, and per the rules of this program you get to keep the miles even if you cancel a ticket.

The reason the Miles Multiplier came to my attention was that US Airways is holding a 50% bonus promo on Multiplied Miles until September 12. The one catch is that 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. So, it wouldn’t apply to my situation.

The Plan
The plan was to purchase a refundable roundtrip Envoy-class (business class) ticket on US Airways from San Francisco to Tel Aviv via Philadelphia for $8,000. The flight miles plus class-of-service bonus (I don’t have elite status on US Airways) would add up to 24,858 total miles. I chose this itinerary because US Airways prices the cost of miles sold in bands depending on how many miles you are buying and the sweet spot is figuring out a trip that comes in at just under 24,999 miles since that falls just under the threshold of the next band. I had the choice to pay $599 to either double or triple my miles, so I chose to triple them and get 49,716 Multiplied Miles.

Granted, I’d have to take the chance that the miles wouldn’t post until my next credit card statement closed, but I timed it so that wouldn’t be the case, and I would be able to both charge and then cancel the $8,000 fare before it would affect my monthly bill.

I put the charge on my Chase Sapphire Preferred so I would earn 2x points on the charge since the Multplied Miles are sold directly from US Airways and  count as a travel expense – a fact I confirmed yesterday evening with a Chase customer service rep.

The ticket and multiplier actually came out as two different charges:

The $8,000 for my refundable ticket was one charge.

And the $599 for my multiplied miles was another charge, so I would still earn double points on it even if I canceled my refundable ticket.

I checked back in on my account on Tuesday, and sure enough, the Multiplied Miles had already posted to my account (although it awarded me 49,712 miles for some reason, so I’m short 4 of what the Multiplier told me I would get):

And then I simply cancelled my flight but kept the Multiplied Miles for $599. That worked out to paying about 1.2 cents each for US Airways miles, a pretty phenomenal value since I personally value US Airways miles at 1.8-2 cents a piece based on various premium redemptions.

To put it another way, normally to buy 50,000 miles, it would cost 3.5 cents per mile plus 7.5% tax for a total of $1,881.25, and even with the recent targeted 100% bonus on purchased miles I would have had to pay nearly $950 for those miles, so I was saving $350 this way.

I’m going to cross my fingers for the next few days to see how this all works out and whether US Airways notices my strategy since there are some reports of Dividend members 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.

To find out more about the Miles Multiplier, how I was able to purchase bonus miles and how I came up with my plan, read my previous post. You can also read this Flyertalk thread to get more inside scoop on the Miles Multiplier.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • http://twitter.com/Pointsandtravel Pointsandtravel

    Do you think the comments on the FT thread about accounts being shut down for a one time try at this is just fake postings to get people not to attempt to do the deal, so it won’t get shut down?

  • thepointsguy

    I wouldn’t be surprised

  • Rob

    Is this really the type of strategy you’re encouraging? If so I’d have to reconsider my reading of your blog on a regular basis. While it may go through and fly a under the radar it complete goes against the spirit of the promotion. Seems like an unethical way to hoard miles.

  • thepointsguy

    This is a cheap way to accrue miles that doesn’t break any rules. US Airways is known for selling miles through many different promotions, so I’m not sure what the issue is?

  • LarryInNYC

    I’d go after them for the four miles they shorted you. After all, that’s a round-trip, first-class award ticket to Hong Kong (if they were United miles, of course).

  • Titos

    I agree with Rob. There is being smart about the system and trying to fleece it.

  • As

    Kind of like charging customers 3.5 cents per mile to purchase miles?

  • Tj

    Why are you so hell-bend on this? There are easier, cheaper and less risky ways to buy Star Alliance miles. This one strikes me as asking for trouble.

  • As

    Please share with the rest of us…

  • Michael

    I don’t understand how USAIR could shut down your account when you book a refundable ticket and accept their mileage maximizer offer. I mean, what exactly are you doing wrong? It’s a refundable ticket! It’s an offer! I don’t see any reason how they can suddenly close your account and confiscate your miles.

    If you do it ONCE.

    But if you do it twice, thrice, etc., well, then, one can see how it could be viewed as a manipulation. But very hard for them to prove intent if you do it once.

    I also think the fair thing for them to do, if they believe there is something untoward, is to simply refund you the cost of the maximizer bonus. Simple.

    Thanks Brian for the heads up, as always.

  • Jon

    Really? Please share. Aside from credit card bonuses, I’m not aware of a cheaper/easier/less risky method to get miles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cuoreesitante Jack Liu

    The issue is some people have trouble getting off their imaginary moral high-horse. I would have done with if I was ballsy enough to float a 10k charge on my credit card =P

  • http://www.facebook.com/cuoreesitante Jack Liu

    Two questions:

    1. How long does US Airways to process refunds?
    2. Anyone done this multiple times? I’d like to get enough for the 90k round trip to China, but don’t want to push it TOO much.

  • Olemiss36

    In for an answer to this, also can you cancel online?

  • glblnmd

    Just a question, why did you choose to do a refundable ticket with a very large float vs doing a non-refundable ticket for a smaller amount and cancelling within 24hrs? Shouldn’t they both accomplish the same purpose?

  • Ketelone

    Hi TPG.
    I cant float 6-8 k but if I tried to book a refundable economy ticket x-y where the miles are say 22000 miles but the segments are partially on LH, do i still get to take advantage of the mileage multiplier or the itinerary has to be completely on US metal?

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  • http://pointstopointb.wordpress.com/ AKold

    Not a fleecing since its not the only way to accumulate miles. If miles were constantly sold at a cheaper price, mileage redemptions would cost more miles.

  • Smith

    Did you incur any additional charges on the cancellation of the flight?

  • thepointsguy

    Nope

  • thepointsguy

    Completely US I believe

  • thepointsguy

    Yes

  • thepointsguy

    Refunds take 3-5 business days usually

  • guest

    took advantage of this great deal based on your suggestion. many thanks.

    is there a way to get a refund online for the refundable tickets or did you have to call in?

  • Water Boiling

    you can just refund online, saves you the trouble calling in
    after you logged in, “travel tools” -> “manage flights” then you can cancel it there
    done it, already got my refund

  • guest

    thx water boiling!

  • Michael

    How do you find the refundable fares? Is there a code for that? Don’t want to accidentally buy a non-refundable.

  • As

    You will be given the option to book a “flexible” ticket which is refundable

  • Smbayguy

    Can you pl.tell me how many days it took for refund back to your credit card?

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  • http://twitter.com/naiel Naiel Iqbal

    Does this still work?

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