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As they get closer to merging by taking steps like letting customers link their frequent flyer accounts, American Airlines and US Airways have come out with a new promotion on purchased miles where buyers can get up to a 50% bonus now through January 30, 2015.
Similar to their most recent joint buy miles bonus promo from back in November, this is a tiered bonus where the more miles you purchase, the more bonus miles you get.
Here is the link to the American Airlines bonus page, and here is how the bonus works:
So as you can see, you get the full potential 50% bonus miles by purchasing 70,000 AA miles and getting 35,000 bonus ones.
Here is the link to the US Airways promo page, and here is how their bonus works:
Pretty much the same except that you can buy up to 100,000 American miles (135,000 with the full bonus, and the max each AAdvantage account can purchase per year) but just 80,000 US Airways miles (115,000 with the bonus).
Purchasing 70,000 miles costs $2,065 and you end up with 105,000 miles total. That gives you a per-mile cost of 2.065 cents apiece. But don’t forget that you pay a $30 transaction fee and 7.5% tax so your total cost comes to about $2,250 – or 2.25 cents per mile.
Per the terms and conditions, your frequent flyer account must e at least 12 days old in order to be eligible. Two other things to note: US Airways transactions are processed through Points.com, so they are not eligible for travel category or US Airways spending bonuses if you have a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or US Airways Premier World Mastercard. However, American Airlines processes its own mileage purchases, so if you have the Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 2x points per $1, or if you have a co-branded Citi AAdvantage card like the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard or the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard, you can earn 2x miles per $1.
Which Miles To Buy?
As with all buy miles bonuses, the question of whether you should partake really depends on your individual needs and plans. I personally value American miles at 1.7 cents each and US Airways miles at 1.9 cents each, well below the 2.25 cents that they will cost you with this promo.
However, if you have an imminent, high-value redemption where you are getting significantly more value per mile than that 2.25 figure, or if you just need a few miles to top off your account for a specific award, then you might still want to consider it.
While the promotions are basically the same, remember that the AAdvantage and Dividend miles programs are still separate and different for now and likely through the end of the second quarter of 2015, so if you are thinking of buying miles with this promo, consider a couple of things.
First, look at the awards you want to book and figure out whose mileage is better. Here is US Airways’ chart and here is American’s. There are still discrepancies between the two charts such as US Airways only requiring 110,000 miles roundtrip in business class from North America to South Africa or the South Pacific including Australia while AA would charge you 150,000 to South Africa and 125,000 to Australia. North America to Hong Kong in Cathay first class would cost you 135,000 American miles but just 120,000 US miles. Check out my post on the Top 11 Awards To Book With US Airways Miles Now That It Is A Member of Oneworld to see some other great uses for Dividend Miles.
On the other hand, American allows one-way award and US Airways still does not, though it does have some flexible routing rules that you can maximize to fly around the world. AA also has some great off-peak awards to Europe, South America, Asia and Hawaii, while US Airways has them on different dates from the continental US and Canada to the Caribbean and from North America or Hawaii to Europe. Find out more about both here.
So there are a few factors to consider before making your decision, not least of which is that both airlines’ credit cards are currently offering sizable bonuses. The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles and 2 Admirals Club Passes after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of cardmembership and the first year’s annual fee is waived. While it is still around, the US Airways Premier World Mastercard is offering 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee. So if you are just looking to stock up on miles, applying for one of those might be a better way to go.
Do you plan on taking advantage of either of these offers, and what redemptions do you have in mind? With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.
With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.