Sunday Reader Question: Are US Airways Miles Useless?
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TPG reader Pierre asked a great question regarding the usefulness of US Airways Miles:
"I have 40,000 US Airways miles, but unlike United miles I don't see a lot of options to use them. US Airways doesn't allow one-way award bookings, neither on their planes nor on Star Alliance partners. Do you have any suggestion? Is there any way to transfer those miles to somewhere more useful?"
I agree that United miles are superior, but US Airways miles are by no means useless. USairways.com is just a horrible website for booking awards. US Airways is part of Star Alliance, which means you can use your Dividend Miles to book awards on all 27 carriers, plus other partners like Qatar and Virgin Atlantic. However, you need to call 1-800-428-4322 to book those awards. You should understand their routing rules and restrictions before calling, though.
Check out this post for my rundown on maximizing Dividend Miles, and just know that many people can push the routing rules to the limits because many US Airways phone agents are poorly trained, which you can use to your advantage.
My recommendation to you would be to increase your balance so you can book one of their gem redemptions, like 60,000 mile off-peak business class awards to Europe (55,000 if you have the US Airways Mastercard) or 90,000 miles roundtrip to North Asia on Star Alliance partners like ANA, Singapore and Asiana.
US Airways makes it pretty easy to rack up miles - they often sell miles at around 1.8 cents a piece and hopefully they will run their lucrative Grand Slam promotion again this fall.
Neither Chase nor Amex points transfer to US Airways, but Starwood Preferred Guest points transfer at a 25% bonus per 20,000 points transferred, so if you got in on the current limited time 30,000 point Starwood Amex offer, those 30,000 points would transfer into 35,000 US Airways miles, bringing your balance up to 75,000 (if you also got the business version, you'd be at 100,000 miles). The Barclay's US Airways Mastercard also has a 40,000 point sign-up bonus with first use, which is a quick way to increase your miles.
So, don't lose hope. As always with redemptions, the key is being flexible and using your hard-earned miles and points for the award that best suits your needs - or even finding one that you hadn't taken into consideration before.