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US Air’s 100% Bonus Changes the Mile-Buying Game

When it comes to buying frequent flyer miles from airlines, the standard advice usually comes down to a single word: Don’t.

With the average value of frequent flyer miles stuck at around 1.2 cents apiece, paying almost 3 cents to purchase miles just doesn’t make good financial sense.

Discounting the price of miles—as airlines routinely do—can tip the value equation back in favor of the consumer, somewhat. But the typical discounts of 20 or 25 percent just aren’t enough to make miles an unqualified buy. What it takes is a discount or bonus that effectively cuts the price of purchased miles in half.

US Airways has been doing just that in recent months, in the process positioning themselves as the industry’s premier mileage discounter.

No sooner did their last such offer come to an end, on September 15, than they rolled out a new double-miles-for-sale promotion.

Offer Details

Between September 16 and November 15, US Airways Dividend Miles members will earn a 100 percent bonus on miles purchased for their own accounts or as gifts for other program members.

There’s a limit of 50,000 miles that may be purchased, which translates into 100,000 miles with the bonus.

Registration is not required—the bonus will be applied automatically at check-out.

Deal or No Deal

As I’ve pointed out before when reviewing similar US Airways offers, the bonus allows you to buy 100,000 Dividend Miles miles for $1,375, not including fees and taxes. That’s a significant expenditure, to be sure. But value-wise, it’s enough for a business-class award ticket to Europe on one of US Airways’ Star Alliance partners—a ticket that could easily cost more than $6,000.

If you’re inclined to fly business class, the opportunity to do so for more than 75 percent less than the published fare has to be a compelling proposition.

And even if your Europe plans call for economy-class flights, the cost of enough miles to fly business class instead may not be much higher than the cost of coach tickets.

I often use the term “game-changer” to describe what a particular promotion or program feature fails to be. This promotion succeeds.

Reader Reality Check

Is this a game-changer for you?

Have you taken advantage of US Airways’ previous mileage discounts?