Earlier this morning I posted that US Airways is back at it again offering a 100% bonus on purchased miles (as long as you purchase 30,000 miles, with a cap of 50,000 miles). As you are probably well aware US Airways and American Airlines are currently going through a merger and most likely US Airways miles will eventually become American Airline miles. I have no idea when this will occur, but my assumption is not until at least 2014. There is a chance you’ll be able to transfer miles from one account to another prior to the actual merger being finalized (like you were able to do with the Continental and United merger), but again there has been no time table on this.

While not as often as US Airways, American sometimes offers a bonus on purchased miles – back in April they offered a promotion with a 50% bonus. During this promotion, you could purchase 60,000 miles + a 30,000 mile bonus for a total of 90,000 miles for $1,808.75. With the US Airways bonus miles promotion, you can purchase 50,000 miles + a 50,000 mile bonus for a total of 100,000 miles for $1,881.25. With the American Airlines bonus mile promo you were purchasing miles at 2 cents/point. With the US Airways bonus mile promo you’d be purchasing miles at 1.88 cents/point – clearly a better value.

If you are a risk taker and do not mind speculatively purchasing miles, you can ultimately purchase the US Airways miles now with the hope that they’ll ultimately turn into American Airline miles. This will be far cheaper than purchasing American Airline miles outright and definitely better than any promotion they’ve had in the past. The American Airlines 50% bonus promotion is rare and when they do run a promotion it is typically with a 30% bonus.

Here is a breakdown of the bonus you’ll get with the US Airways purchase miles promo:

  • Buy/gift 10,000 – 19,999 miles, get a 50% bonus
  • Buy/gift 20,000 – 29,999 miles, get a 75% bonus
  • Buy/gift 30,000 – 50,000 miles, get a 100% bonus

I’d personally only purchase miles at the 100% bonus rate as the other ones won’t give you a great value. This offer lasts until August 31, 2013 and is maxed at purchasing 50,000 miles per account. In this mornings post, I did the math for using these miles with US Airways, but this post hits on using these miles with the American Airlines award chart. For the purpose of this post, I did the math for the 100% offer since that is really the only offer I’d recommend buying miles at.

Should you take advantage of this promotion?

As I mentioned above, there is no set time table of when these points will be transferable to American Airlines. This could be great for some of you, but I personally am not a huge fan of speculatively buying miles unless I am able to get them VERY cheap. Those who primarily redeem for domestic travel will most likely not see the value, but for those that desire business and first class on international flights, this could be a great deal!

With the American Airlines award chart, these 100,000 miles can be used for a round-trip business class ticket from the US to Europe. Purchasing this ticket will typically cost you at least $3,000 (on the super conservative side). American also has great off-peak award redemption opportunities. From October-ish through April-ish you can fly coach class from the US to Europe for just 40,000 miles roundtrip! For you and a companion to fly, you’d need to purchase 40,000 miles to get the 80,000 total miles required. These 80,000 miles will cost you $1,505, so about $750 per ticket. During an off-peak time you might be able to get a roundtrip ticket for less than that, however, at other times you could be paying at least $1,000. Remember though with award tickets you are responsible for paying taxes and fees, so the $750 could easily turn into $900. At this rate I would not purchase the miles and have to worry about capacity control availability and what not. Also remember, you will not earn miles when redeeming, so there is that opportunity cost as well.

So as you can see from my example above, economy class tickets are hardly worth it on a speculative purchase basis. It really is business and first class tickets that have the great value.

You can check out the American Airlines award chart and OneWorld alliance award chart to see the number of miles needed for each route.

This promotion seems to appear at least every other month, so if you have no immediate need, you can always hold off till the next time the promotion runs (assuming it will, although as we get closer to the merger finalizing there is no telling in what we will see in regards to promotions – maybe American will eventually adopt this promotion!).

You can purchase US Airways miles here.

  • Mike Reed said,

    Never a fan of speculative purchase but after my recent experience trying to redeem US miles for *A travel, I’m a little worried that some of the US award-blocking we’ve seen could trickle over to US. Not so much with BA (since the high fuel charges serve as a deterrent), but especially airlines like Cathay who are considered great redemptions today. I finally got US to redeem 200K miles for business class tickets back and forth to Zurich… at a modest savings over purchasing the tickets, but not the huge values I could have likely waited for. My advice? Buy if you need them for a trip, and definitely buy at least 30K.

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