US Airways 100% Buy Miles Bonus Through November 30, 2012

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Just as the US Airways 100% Share Miles Bonus promo comes to an end, the airline has launched a 100% Bonus on Purchased Miles promo from November 1-30, 2012.

There’s no need to register, since this isn’t a targeted promotion, and you’ll receive the bonus automatically on the Buy Miles page. However, there are a few rules:

1. You must be a Dividend Miles member for at least 12 days, so sign up now if you are not and want to take advantage (sign-up here for a free account).
2. This promotion limits mileage purchases to 50,000 miles – 100,000 miles with the bonus.
3. For each purchase there is a processing fee of $30 and a 7.5% tax recovery charge, and GST/HST will be charged to Canadian residents.
4. These transactions are processed by points.com so it won’t count towards airfare multiplier categories like the 3 points per $1 on the Premier Rewards Gold or 2 points per $1 on the Sapphire Preferred, or for reimbursements through the Amex Platinum $200 rebate.

Worth It?

Although 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, every so often there are some buy-miles bonuses like this one that might be worth it to some travelers and depending if you have an upcoming award in mind.

To give you some hard numbers to crunch, The cost to buy 50,000 + 50,000 Bonus miles is $1,881.25, thus making it 1.8 cents per mile, which can be a great deal if you redeem for expensive awards.

You only need 90,000 miles for a roundtrip business class ticket to North Asia.

Looking at the Star Alliance award travel chart) , you’ll see that to get from North America to North Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Mongolia, S. Korea, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) in business on any Star Alliance carrier only requires 90,000 US Airways miles. Those tickets easily go for around $5,000. However, with this promo, $1,693.113 ($1575+ taxes) will get you 45,000 base miles plus 45,000 bonus miles, for a total of 90,000 miles, so you’ve basically just gotten yourself a $3,700 discount.

Also note that the 90,000 US Airways miles required for this roundtrip itinerary is 30,000 miles less than the 120,000 United would charge you for it.

Searching for Awards

When searching for awards, don’t use usairways.com as a judge of what flights you can get. I recommend using united.com for award searches because the site also includes Star Alliance airlines like ANA, Thai, United, US Airways, Lufthansa, TAP, bmi and Air Canada. It’s not 100% perfect, since it will automatically display United results first, so always scroll down to see partner availability. You can double check the availability using the ANA tool, which is a bit more burdensome, but more a more accurate judge of Star Alliance availability.

Generally, any Saver Award on united.com will be bookable with US Airways miles so you just write down the dates and flight numbers that show availability and then call in to book through US Airways. US Airways will let you put an award.

To take a quick example, let’s say we wanted to fly from New York JFK to Tokyo aboard an ANA 777-300ER. I found some great Saver Award (see the blue columns below) availability in December.

So I booked a sample trip departing December 2 and returning December 9 (on a 777-200). The total cost would be 120,000 United miles (but really 90,000 US Airways miles) and $51.90 in taxes and fees.

That same ticket would cost $3,824 on Orbitz, so I’d be saving $2,100 on this ticket by purchasing 45,000 miles and getting the bonus for the 90,000 total miles necessary for this award redemption.

As always, whether a promotion like this is worth 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.

Do the math for yourself before deciding to jump on this promotion, but this is another good US Airways offer, and I don’t know how many more we’re going to see.

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