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From now until March 25th, US Airways and American Airlines are offering discounts of up to 30% when you transfer miles to someone else. Unlike many promotions that give you a bonus for buying or transferring miles, this tiered offer allows you to save either 20% or 30% depending on how many miles you transfer. Check your miles balance on either US Airways or American to see how many miles you have available to send.
- Transfer 6,000-25,000 miles to receive a 20% bonus.
- Transfer 26,000-50,000 miles to receive a 30% bonus.
Note that all transfers are subject to a processing charge of $20 per transaction.
The question of whether you should partake depends heavily on what your future travel plans entail. Unlike buy miles promotions, there’s no reason to transfer miles speculatively, because you’re just paying to shift a balance between accounts. In my most recent monthly valuations, I list American Airlines and US Airways miles at 1.7 and 1.9 cents apiece, respectively. However, you lose value by transferring miles, which makes it more difficult to redeem at a rate that will be worthwhile.
Normally US Airways charges you $12.50 to transfer each 1,000 miles. If you were to get the maximum discount for transferring 26,000 miles or more, you’d pay around 0.9 to 0.95 cents per mile (once you include the $20 processing charge) just for the luxury of transferring to another account holder, not for the actual miles. If you were to transfer only 6,000 miles at a total cost of $80, you’d be paying roughly 1.3 cents per mile. Keep in mind, that’s value that you’re basically giving away, so you’d need to redeem for around 2.5 to 3 cents per mile in order for this promotion to make sense. That’s plausible, but I think there are much more palatable options for boosting your account balances.
First, both American Airline and US Airways frequently offer discounts for buying miles outright, and I think you’ll get better value from those promotions than you will from sharing miles. Second, both airlines have co-branded credit cards with sizable sign-up bonuses: the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of cardmembership, and the first year’s annual fee is waived. While it’s still around, the US Airways Premier World MasterCard is offering 50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee. If you’re just looking to stock up on miles, those are a better way to go.
That said, I can envision a few limited circumstances where transferring miles makes sense, in particular if you and a companion need to book an award urgently, but one of you is just a few thousand miles short. You might be hoping to take advantage of some of the sweet spots in the US Airways award chart before it disappears in the coming weeks, so booking an award now (like 110,000 miles round-trip in business class from North America to South Africa or the South Pacific, including Australia) could make sense, as the added expense would be offset by the miles you’d save. 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.
If your need isn’t dire, I’d sit this promotion out and wait for something better, but as always, you should run the numbers for your specific travel plans to see if this offer is of any value to you. If you think of other ways to leverage this transfer discount to your advantage, be sure to post it in the comments section below!