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