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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?

  • Max Bialystock

    No, I won’t be buying these miles, though on paper the offer looks good. I’m simply sworn off using USAir. Customer service, and the way they have treated me even as a TICKETED passenger has been worse than atrocious. If Continental or American matches the offer, THEN yer talkin.’

  • Tim Winship

    Max – Agree that this would be more compelling if the miles were from AA. But remember that with US’s Star partners, you can redeem the miles for travel on some of the world’s premier carriers.

  • Zach Arora

    Max – I would agree with that if you are flying domestic with US Air… I fly US air a lot and the only reason – coz I use miles to fly international with star alliance partners – you would still have to deal with US air customer service over the phone to book your award ticket but somehow they are “slightly” better than domestic ops..

  • Max Bialystock

    Tim, you make a good point. Worth mulling over.

  • Raul Hernandez

    Under this 50% bonus promotion, then what would be the actual cost of geting 50,000 miles, as a gift, from another USAirways Dividend Miles member?

  • Tim Winship

    Raul – To get 50,000 miles you’d have to purchase 25,000 miles, at 2.75 cents each. So the total, not including tax, would be $687.50.

  • joyce mitchell

    $1375 for a business class to europe is a good deal. Just don’t forget to include the added cost of taxes and other fees when redeeming the miles. Still a bargain but worth mentioning.

  • dian a

    Does this mean that I could use the 100,000 miles t0 fly on any Star Alliance flight