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US Air Brings Back the Buy-Miles Bonus, with a New Restriction

US Air Brings Back the Buy-Miles Bonus, with a New Restriction

If you missed US Airways’ last sale on frequent flyer miles, you now have another chance to load up on miles before the end of the year.

And given the history of this offer—which has been reprised over and over and over again—there’s every reason to believe that there will be more such discounts in 2012.

But you just never know.

Offer Details

What we do know is that for the month of December, you will earn a 100 percent bonus on the purchase of US Airways miles, effectively halving their cost.

There is a new wrinkle in this iteration’s terms and conditions. Whereas in previous offers, the 100 percent bonus applied to as many as 50,000 purchased miles, in this case the bonus only applies to the first 40,000 miles.

So, purchase 40,000 miles at the normal price of $1,505 (3.5 cents per mile), including the 7.5 percent "tax recovery charge," and receive 80,000 miles.

As always with these sales: "Dividend Miles accounts less than 12 days old are not permitted to Buy, Share or Gift Miles."

Deal or No Deal

In past mile-for-sale promotions, which generated 100,000 miles for the price of 50,000 miles, the standard evaluation approach was to compare the cost of the purchased miles to the price of a premium-class international ticket on one of US Airways’ Star Alliance partners, say a Lufthansa flight to Europe priced at 100,000 miles. In that light, buying miles looked like a bargain.

This offer’s maximum of 80,000 discounted miles subverts such easy assessments. With international business-class awards priced at 90,000 miles or more, the purchased miles would have to be augmented with miles already in your account to qualify for a pricey award flight and get outsized value for your purchase.

Otherwise, you’re only buying enough miles for, say, a coach award ticket to South Asia.

A round-trip flight from New York to Singapore on Singapore Airlines can be had for $2,373, all in. Buying enough miles for the same flight for $1,505, and having to work around the restrictions associated with booking award tickets, just isn’t a particularly compelling deal.

So the new version of US Airways’ buy-miles promotion comes with a caveat. Before pushing the "Buy" button, check the Dividend Miles award chart, and the price of comparable paid tickets, to be sure that the discount still delivers superior value.

Reader Reality Check

Have you taken advantage of past US Airways buy-miles promotions? Will you buy this time?