Forum Buzz: Buy US Airways Miles for 1.1 Cents through 100% Share Miles Bonus

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US Airways and American Airlines have merged since the publication of this post so it is no longer valid.

From 10/1/12 to 10/31/12, US Airways is offering a bonus of 100% on shared miles. This is a non-targeted offer that only requires membership in US Airways’ Dividend Miles program for at least 12 days and a minimum of 1,000 miles in your account to begin.

What do I need to take advantage of this offer?

You need at least two Dividend Miles accounts that have been open for a minimum of 12 days. One account is yours, from which the miles with be shared. The second account can belong to a spouse, friend, or family member, and will receive the miles–and the bonus–from your account.

If you do not have a US Airways Dividend Miles account, open one now! Not only would your account be eligible for this promotion before it’s over, but you’ll be eligible for future promotions.

How do I actually share the miles?

Log in to your account at www.usairways.com and navigate to “Buy, share, & gift miles”:

Once you are on the Buy, share, or gift miles page, click on “share miles”:

You will see confirmation of the 100% bonus, and you will be prompted to enter your membership information, the number of miles you want to share, and the membership information of the person receiving the shared miles:

In my example above, I have maxed out the offer by choosing to share 50,000 of my miles. This means that the lucky recipient will get a total of 100,000 miles deposited into his account!

After you have entered the account details for the sharing and receiving accounts and the number of miles you want to share, you will be quoted the final price, which includes a fee of $30 and tax of 7.5%.

In my example, sharing 50,000 miles with a 50,000 miles bonus costs $567.50 ($500 + $30 + $37.50). The net result is buying 50k US Airways miles for $567.50 or 1.1 cent each. This is an absolutely fantastic deal that I will take advantage of speculatively–ie without even having a use for my newly minted miles in mind.

How can I take advantage of this offer if I don’t have any miles?

In September, US Airways ran a promotion with a 100% bonus on purchased miles. The promotion officially ended 9/30/12. However, some FlyerTalk members, myself included, have been targeted for continuation of the 100% bonus on purchased miles.

To check if you can still purchase miles with a 100% bonus, return to the “Buy, Share, or Gift Miles” page. Select “buy miles”:

When you click on the “Buy Miles” and “Gift Miles” links, you may be rewarded with this:

If you have no US Airways Dividend Miles but want to take advantage of the share miles bonus promotion and you are targeted for the 100% bonus on purchased or gifted miles, buying or gifting miles might be your “buy in”.

For example:

I will buy 25,000 miles with a 100% bonus:

I have now bought a total of 50,000 miles, which costs $940.63 after adding taxes. I then transfer 50,000 miles, along with a 100% bonus to a friend’s account, which costs $567.70. My friend’s account now has 100,000 miles and the total cost to me is $1508.33.

What is this deal worth?

I’ve presented two scenarios: one in which I already have 50,000 miles in my account to share, and the other in which I have to buy miles to participate in the promotion. Let’s see how they compare:

I value US Airways Dividend miles at 1.95 cpm—see the Mile Value Leaderboard.  That means 50,000 miles is worth $975. In scenario A , I have paid only $567.70 for 50,000 miles—a discount of $407.30 or 42%! This is a fantastic value for the money spent. If you have miles in your account, you should get in on this deal.

In scenario B, I first bought 50,000 miles–25,000 miles with a 100% bonus–in order to participate in the share miles bonus promotion and ended up paying $1,508.33 for 100,000 miles. Using my valuation, 100,000 Dividend Miles are worth $1,950–so I got these miles at a discount of $441.67 or 23%!

As you can see, even if you have to first buy miles to participate in this promotion, you still get the miles at a discount. This only works if you get a 100% bonus on the purchased miles.

What else should I know?

Because the buying, sharing, and gifting of US Airways Dividend Miles is processed through points.com, you will not get any category bonus points for travel purchases if you use the Chase Sapphire Preferred or American Express Premier Rewards Gold cards.

But how will I use my Dividend Miles to book my flight when they are in someone else’s account?

Don’t worry–the miles can be redeemed for an award ticket in your name, even if they are in a friend’s account.

Can I share and receive miles more than once?

Yes. You can receive up to 50,000 bonus miles during the offer period. The terms and conditions state that you can only share 50,000 per transaction, but do not explicitly limit how many times you can share miles or the total number of miles that can be transferred out of your account.

 Let’s say you are planning a family trip? Sign everyone up for an account. For example:

  • A = you, 50,000 miles in account
  • B = partner, no US Airways miles

 

Then:

  • A shares 50,000 miles with B
  • B gets 100,000 miles
  • B shares 50,000 miles with A
  • A gets 100,000 miles

 

At the end of the day, you have converted 50,000 to 150,000 miles:

  • A has 100,000 miles
  • B has 50,000 miles

 

What can I do with 100,000 US Airways Dividend Miles?

Here are some possible roundtrip redemptions–US Airways does not allow oneway award ticket bookings at half the roundtrip price unfortunately:

  • 2 first class or 4 coach class trips in the continental US
  • 1 round trip business class trip to South America
  • 1 round trip business class trip to Europe
  • 1 round trip business class trip to North Asia–for example Hong Kong, Japan, or South Korea–with 10,000 miles left over

In two previous posts, I discussed the South American sweet spots in US Airways’ award chart and how US residents can use open-jaw itineraries to take advantage of some of these sweet spot awards originating in South America. With some creative routing, you can squeeze even more value from your Dividend Miles.

Recap

The US Airways 100% bonus on shared miles promotion runs from October 1-31 and offers an outstanding value at a cost of 1.1 cpm for Dividend Miles. Even if you buy miles–with a 100% bonus–the value is still good at 1.5 cpm.

To participate, you and the recipient of the shared miles must have Dividend Miles accounts at least 12 days old.  The maximum bonus that a recipient can earn is 50,000 miles, but there is no limit on the number of miles that you can transfer out of your account.

Bonus

If you don’t have US Airways miles, and you don’t want to buy miles to get started with this promo, open a Barclay’s US Airways Mastercard. I recommend that card highly even in the absence of this promo.

And miles promos have a way of repeating themselves, so you might be able to leverage the 40k miles you earn on first purchase on an identical future promotion.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

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29 COMMENTS

  1. The valuation of Dividend Miles at 1.95 cents on your Mile Value Leaderboard seems rather high to me, given that you can’t get one-way redemptions, and in my current job travel during the second half of January or during February is not possible. Is the 1.95 cents heavily dependent on those off-season redemptions to Europe? How would I reevaluate the Dividend Miles’ value, knowing that option isn’t part of the equation for me?

    I suppose that related to the current post about sharing miles, the question is academic, since my valuation of Dividend Miles is surely going to be higher than 1.1 cents, so I should seriously consider the idea, but for future reference, how do you recommend that others take the numbers you provide and tweak them to their own situations? You have a clear mathematical bent, so I’m hoping you have some thoughts on that matter. Thanks.

    • I recommend going through the same steps I do in my valuation posts. Pick some awards you might take; see what CPM they are in the Mile Value Calculator; choose a CPM from the middle of the range of the awards you would take; tweak based on program-specific factors that make the miles differ from cash.

  2. Can US miles be used to upgrade an award travel purchased with UA miles? That would make these miles even more valuable to me. Thanks!

  3. Then:

    A shares 50,000 miles with B
    B gets 100,000 miles
    B shares 50,000 miles with C
    C gets 100,000 miles
    C shares 50,000 miles with A
    A gets 100,000 miles
    C shares 50,000 miles with B
    B gets 100,000 miles

    At the end of the day, you have converted 50,000 to 250,000 miles:

    A has 100,000 miles
    B has 150,000 miles
    C has 0 miles

    —————

    In the above example, B got 100k twice. Is that possible? If yes, then that opens many other possibilities.

  4. I unfortunately was’t targeted and the special offer isn’t listed when I login. Anyone find a way around this? Would it be worth calling and asking?

    • For the share miles bonus? That’s not targeted. The buy miles bonus is targeted. If you want to buy Star Alliance miles cheaply, see my posts on buying TACA miles.

        • Yes, I should have clarified. That was in the same vain as my line near the end about offers repeating themselves. Study the TACA posts to be ready for the almost-certain return of the same promotion in the next few months.

  5. If you look at the Terms of the offer it states that each member may only receive a maximum of 50k bonus miles from this promo. That means to optimize the amount of miles you need to have a multiple of 2 or more people (e.g. 2, 4, 6 ,etc…) doing the transfers. It also really depends on the starting balance in each account and the desired amount of miles after the transfers.

    In the example given in the post as well as in milesfan example, there is one account receiving the 50k bonus miles twice so this would not work. Nevertheless, this is still a great promo. I can just see the devaluation in star alliance award availability starting with how US airways is running all these fire sales on their dividend miles. Even United has been having frequent discounts of up to 40% on their miles over the past few months.

  6. Would you be able to do a one-time back and forth between two accounts? In our case, A and B both have 40K miles from the mastercard. Could I transfer 40K from A to B, then 50K from B to A.. a net result of 100K in A and 70K remaining in B?

    • Jeff, what numbers do you want to have total for each account? You can also purchase miles with a 100% bonus.

    • A has 40K, B has 40K, you can transfer 20K from A to B.
      .
      A has 20K, B has 80K. Then transfer 20K from B to A.
      .
      A will have 60K, B will have 60K.

      • 60K/each is probably a pretty good goal (although I believe I’d only need 55K each for r/t off-peak US to Europe in first, since we both have the cards?), so I’d probably rather have a little cushion for future flights in there too. There seems to be no downside in this case to maximizing miles as much as possible, and in that case I may as well go for 100 and 70, if the back and forth transfer is allowed? (For our travel scenario, it only matters how points are allocated between accounts such that we can manage two tickets on one reservation).

        • You may want to buy 5,000 US Airways miles (get 5,000 free). That account would then have 50,000 miles. Then transfer the entire 50,000 to the other account (50,000 bonus) which would give you 2 accounts with 0 miles and 140,000 miles.
          .
          Buying 5,000 miles would cost $94.06 if my math is correct and transferring 50,000 miles would cost $567.50, for a grand total of $661.56.

  7. Hey Scott… just did this yesterday. transferred 50k back and forward amongst 6 accounts, including one that started with zero balance and was 2 weeks old. 4 of the transfers happened immediately, 1 took 12 hours, and waiting on the other one (which I booked later).

  8. I have 20,000 miles and I am planning on getting 100,000 more. Can you suggest any good routes to look for F space if I wanna do US to europe to asia?

    thank you

  9. […] As mentioned above, US Airways sent the 100% bonus email to all Dividend miles members who bought or shared miles in 2012. I didn’t buy a single mile last year, but I did fully leverage their incredible share miles promotion in October. For full details on that, make sure to check out my post, Buy US Airways Miles for 1.1 Cents through 100% Share Miles Bonus. […]

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