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Now through Sunday, April 13, US Airways is offering a 100% bonus on shared miles. It’s a tiered bonus, so to score the full 100% you must transfer 30,000 miles or more, but this is an amazing deal because it basically amounts to “buying” new bonus miles at the rate of 1.1 cents each, which is pretty much as good as it gets when it comes to buy miles promotions. For example, sharing 50,000 miles would cost you $567.50, and you’d be generating a bonus 50,000 miles for that price (and 100,000 miles would be in the new account which is enough for a lot of different awards), which can be an amazing deal depending on how you redeem those miles.
To refresh your memory of the promo terms, in order to receive bonus miles, an account must be 12 days old or more, and each account can receive up to 50,000 bonus miles (so you end up with 100,000 total), though you can transfer as many miles out of each account as you like. There is a $30 transaction processing fee and 7.5% tax (the 1.1 cents per point factors those in).
Remember, these transactions are processed by points.com so they won’t count towards airfare bonus categories like the 3x on flights booked directly with airlines on the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express or 2x for travel on Sapphire Preferred, or 2x on the no-fee Barclaycard Arrival.
However, there are still lots of great reasons to participate in this, not least of which is because this might be the last time you’ll be able to buy US Airways miles at such a low rate. Here are some other reasons you might want to consider it.
1. These are the cheapest miles you’ll get. Though this is a “share miles” bonus, you are actually purchasing bonus miles at a super low rate of 1.1 cents apiece. To put that in perspective, US Airways miles themselves normally cost 3.5 cents apiece plus the $30 transaction fee plus 7.5%. So while generating 50,000 bonus miles through this promo will cost you $567.50, those miles would normally cost you $1,881.25 to buy. That’s a pretty significant discount!
2. These will eventually become American Airlines AAdvantage miles. US Airways is currently in the process of merging with American Airlines, flyers on both airlines can already earn and redeem miles reciprocally, and that means that the Dividend Miles and AAdvantage programs will eventually merge as well. That’s great news for US Airways flyers who don’t have much of an AAdvantage mileage bank stored up because if past mergers are anything to judge by, we should be able to swap miles between accounts before they actually do merge, and book the most advantageous awards from either program. For now, US Airways is maintaining its current award chart (more on that below), so there are great values to be had, but once the programs do merge, it’ll be nice to have a lot of cheaply acquired miles in your American account – especially considering AA’s buy/share miles promos are much less generous than US Airways’.
US Airways hasn’t devalued yet Well, US Airways did just adjust the chart to increase North Asia awards, but most other values are still there. Probably because of the ongoing merger, neither American or US Airways has made major changes to their award chart – including the devaluations we’ve seen recently from United and Delta. However, that doesn’t mean that won’t happen in the future as the two airlines and their mileage programs become more closely aligned, so if you do want to buy miles, I would suggest having a specific, imminent award in mind that you are fairly certain you can book, and to do so as quickly as possible once you get your bonus miles while the redemption values remain the same.
4. Flexible routing options. One of the strengths of US Airways’ mileage program is its flexible routing and stopover rules. Though your awards have to be roundtrip, they can be either open-jaw (meaning you travel from one city and back to another) or have a stopover (where you travel to one city, spend a while, then travel onto your “final destination” and return to your origin from there) that are fairly easy to take advantage of. Not only that, but US Airways routing rules are extremely lax compared to other airlines so that you can fly to Asia via Europe, for instance, and have a stopover on the outbound or return and basically get two award trips for the price of one. Likewise, you can travel to/from the South Pacific including Australia and New Zealand via Southeast Asia for fewer miles (110,000 in business class) than just going to Southeast Asia alone (120,000 miles).
5. Book American trancontinental first class for 50,000 miles. One of the sweetest spots in US Airways’ award chart is the fact that its partner chart does not differentiate between business and first class awards on domestic flights because US Airways does not really offer domestic business class itself. That means you need 50,000 miles for either a business or first class domestic redemption, whereas American Airlines would charge you 50,000 for business class or 65,000 for first class. Where this gets interesting is with American’s new A321 Transcontinental service. You can book a first class award (a very nice product in my experience, with the airline’s new flagship international business class seat in the first class cabin) for just 50,000 miles roundtrip, like in the example below:
6. Cathay Pacific First or Business Class Awards. (Partner award chart link) One of the other awesome spots in US Airways’ current award chart is that flying roundtrip to North Asia, which includes Hong Kong, in business class costs 110,000 miles, and first class costs 120,000 miles. American would charge you 110,000 miles in business class and 135,000 miles in first class, so you’re saving 15,000 miles on a first class redemption using US Airways miles – and that’s while flying some of the nicest premium products in the sky with good availability from Cathay’s US destinations including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, JFK and Newark. In monetary terms – by buying miles at 1.1 cents apiece, that business class ticket equates to $990 on what would be a $5,000-$6,000 ticket normally, and that first class redemption is $1,320 instead of north of $10,000.
7. Off-peak awards. Like American Airlines, US Airways has off-peak awards where you can redeem surprisingly low-level awards to various regions across the globe. American’s off-peak awards are more widely available and for longer periods of time, but US Airways’ do have some redeeming qualities – including the fact that you can get to Europe for 35,000 miles roundtrip from North America and Hawaii – a value of $385 at the price you can buy miles at with this promo. You can find the whole award chart here, but here are the mileage numbers and dates for roundtrip off peak awards:
- Between the continental US or Canada and the Caribbean: 25,000 Coach, 50,000 First (ranges from 35,000-80,000 for coach and 60,000-140,000 for first at other times). Off-peak dates are September 1-30 (just one month!).
- Between North America or Hawaii and South America: 35,000 coach, 60,000 business (ranges from 60,000-125,000 coach, and 100,000-350,000 business otherwise). Off-peak dates so far for 2014 were February 3-13 and March 17-April 3.
- Between North America or Hawaii and Europe: 35,000 Coach (ranges from 60,000-125,000 Coach). Off-peak dates are January 15-February 28.
While it remains to be seen whether these will stick around after the merger (or maybe come in at American’s levels), this is something to keep in mind.
8. Both Oneworld and Star Alliance partners. We’re in a magical little window right now where US Airways has exited Star Alliance to join Oneworld, but still retains 11 Star Alliance partners: Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAP and Turkish Airlines (TAM as well, but that’s a part of Oneworld now too). That means for the time being, the airline has an extensive network of 25 airline partners that cover every corner of the globe, and there are some amazing redemption opportunities while US Airways current award chart is still in effect. However, keep in mind that certain types of awards and partner combinations are not allowed. You can book awards on US and its Oneworld partners, or US and its Star Alliance partners, but you cannot combine Oneworld and Star Alliance carriers on the same award. Another thing to note is that certain Star Alliance partners will end their relationships with US in the coming months including Air New Zealand (book by June 29th), Avianca (book by May 31st), EVA (book by May 14th) and Singapore (book by July 31st, and not that you can’t book premium cabins on A380, A350, 777-300ER). So if you’re thinking of buying miles through this promo to use on some of US’s Star Alliance partners – better do so while those relationships are still around.
9. Low award fees (except on British Airways and Iberia). One of the great things about US Airways awards is that the airline does not levy fuel surcharges on awards, including partner awards. Unfortunately, that does not extend to the airlines’ new Oneworld partners of British Airways and Iberia, both of which (especially British Airways) levy some jaw-dropping fees on travel to Europe and London in particular. However, there are still plenty of other options to get around this including flying to Europe either on US Airways or American (just not through London), or Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. While getting to Asia on EVA or Cathay Pacific can be a steal.
10. Australia and South Africa awards. Another shining spot on US Airway’s award chart is its incredibly low business class redemption level of just 110,000 miles roundtrip to either the South Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand) and South Africa. American Airlines would charge you 125,000 miles, and United would charge you 140,000 on its own planes and 160,000 on partners. In terms of the price of miles generated through this promo, 110,000 miles equates to $1,210 – an incredible value considering roundtrip business class tickets to Australia go for north of $6,000, and those to South Africa are often in the $7,000-$8,000 range! Availability can be tight on these routes, but it’s definitely worth searching considering the savings.
Those are just a few ideas for you, but if you have your own US Airways award plans, feel free to share them below! With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.
With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.