Targeted Bonuses for Buying US Airways Miles in July

US Airways is running bonuses for mileage purchases through July 31.

They make you identify yourself with name and account number before displaying the purchase miles page, which tells me they are verifying eligibility. But I was offered a 100% bonus which seems to be quite common.

With a 100% bonus, purchases of 50,000 miles you get 50,000 bonus miles, and your 100,000 miles cost you 1.88 cents per mile.

US Airways has been dubbed the ‘consolidator of Star Alliance premium class seats’ since seats that aren’t expected to be sold (distressed inventory) tend to be offered as awards, and US Airways has been the most aggressive about letting members straight up buy those seats cheaply via purchased miles — even putting awards on hold before buying the miles (which post instantly).

Although they’re no longer the only one in the game. When AviancaTaca sells miles with a 100% bonus the cost is 1.5 cents per mile, and they allow one-way awards without Starnet blocking though if you can’t book the flights you want online (and you can’t book awards in a mixed class of service at all) their call centers can be difficult to worth with.

US Airways of course is expected to exit Star Alliance in a matter of months. Their merger with American should close by the end of the third quarter, and they’re expected to exit Star shortly thereafter. These miles will then be useful for oneworld and other American Airlines partner awards (at least once the programs are combined, or more likely once they implement the ability to move miles back and forth between programs).

US Airways mileage purchases are processed by points.com which means they don’t show up as airfare, and thus don’t earn bonuses from credit cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred (double points) or American Express Premier Rewards Gold (triple points) that bonus airfare spend.

Buying miles at a 100% bonus from US Airways used to be an amazing deal. Three years ago their award chart was less expensive (e.g. 80,000 miles for business class to Europe). And prior to September 2010 miles normally cost 2.5 cents apiece. In October 2011 they raised the standard price of miles to 3.5 cents apiece.

Since US Airways runs mileage purchase bonuses nearly every month, though sometimes targeted and other times in varying amounts, they’ve more or less jacked up the price only to be able to discount it, making the discounts look better than they actually are.

Make no mistake, they can still be a good deal, but not good enough in my view to stock up miles speculatively. Instead, I’d use this deal to top off an account towards a specific award or to buy outright a ticket that you can immediately book (getting airfare at a discount).

Here’s my guide to using US Airways miles to book awards.


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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I have a question on my mind 😀
    I used to buy US Airways miles to book Star Alliance F awards . Now that they’re planning to join OneWorld would you find it too risky to buy Us Air miles / top your account in order to book OneWorld partner awards when they become available ? OneWorld award availabilty for premium cabins is good and I’m just worried about some kind of devaluation / or something similar to StarNet blocking that would prevent us to book oneworld awards in the future …

  2. I hope I’m able to book one last North Asia via Europe trip in business class. Was going to book the first weekend in Oct for next Aug into Labor Day.

  3. I just tried to buy miles and was not offered the bonus, I am CP with them so I wonder if that was the reason. Even at 1.88 cent/m not too bad since they are switching over to OW which means some nice awards on CX..

  4. Data Point: my dad has the US Airways MC and he sees the bonus. I don’t have the CC and don’t see the bonus. Any one have a contradiction?

  5. I have the US Airways MC and don’t have the bonus. I did buy in the last 100% promotion cycle, though.

  6. @Michael, there is no bonus on gifting (buying miles for someone else) miles currently. Last month, US Airways had a bonus on transferred miles though. Just wait a month for the next promo to come around.

  7. Do you think American Airlines will continue to sell miles at 100% bonus after the merger. If not wouldn’t it be wise to stock up. I haven’t seen any great bonus purchase offers from AA in the past. I use at least 300,000 miles per year for FC to Asia.

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