US Airways is running a 100% bonus for mileage purchases through December 20th.

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

They ran this targeted last month and in July. They ran it non-targeted in August. October and also a couple of weeks back they had the much better 100% share miles bonus.

US Airways IT Challenges Making Bookings Limit Value Somewhat

US Airways has been dubbed the ‘consolidator of Star Alliance premium class seats’ (credit to eponymous coward) 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).

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

US Airways though has difficulty ‘seeing’ some partner award inventory, especially Lufthansa’s and especially intra-Europe though also transatlantic and also ANA space as well. That makes the miles a bit less valuable.

The American Merger and US Airways Exit from Star Alliance

US Airways has merged with American. We expect reciprocal earn and burn to begin January 7. US Airways should depart Star Alliance March 30 and enter oneworld on March 31.

That means you can book an award now, redeeming for travel on Star Alliance. You can even wait until March 30th to do so (although I wouldn’t), for travel as far out as 330 days into the future. The only hiccup is if schedule changes force rebooking, the airline will only be able to re-accommodate you on oneworld airlines after March 30th.

Of course if American and oneworld is your thing, this purchase bonus offer is cheaper than American sells miles.

No Airfare Spending Bonuses for the Mileage Purchase

US Airways mileage purchases are processed by 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.

Should You Buy Miles With This Offer?

Buying miles at a 100% bonus from US Airways used to be an amazing deal. Four 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. (See also ‘Groupon’.)

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).

The way to do this ‘non-speculatively’ is to put the award you want on a three day hold, then buy the miles, and ring back to ticket the award.

  1. Haldami said,

    Not the best way to buy American Airlines miles since you said yourself the last share onewas much better.

  2. robertw said,

    The day I will buy AA or any airline miles for 1.88 cents is the day it snows in miami

  3. Robert Hanson said,

    @ 2.robertw I’d go for Fiji if I was you. A couple days ago it snowed in Egypt. First time in 100 years. Miami might be next…. ;)

  4. Ben said,

    So I just did the 100% bonus on 50K shared miles promo a few weeks ago. Would I still qualify for this one since this is a separate promo?

  5. Gary said,

    This is a separate promo

  6. CW said,

    They’re printing too much currency for my tastes. I smell a rat. Dougie is licking his lips. Burn baby burn go the US and AA miles, provided I can find any availability (the side of the equation no one talks about…)

  7. Jorge said,

    I dont value AA miles 1.88. Maybe 1.5

  8. Ray said,

    We have plans to travel to China next Sept.from DC area, does it make sense for me to stock up US miles for UA direct flight award booking? I’ve been using US miles to book this PEK-IAD flights for my parents in the past, even with buying the miles, it was still cheaper than buying UA tickets directly. But on the other hand, this time it’s gonna be my wife and I with our baby girl, we don’t care if it’s direct flight or not, UA or not. You guys think if there’s any chance to get tickets directly for below $900 each next Sept.?

  9. Ryan said,

    Gary – could you also buy 90,000 AA miles more cheaply through this promotion for 1.833cpm? 60,000 + 18,000 bonus + additional 12,000 bonus by Jan 31?

  10. Gary said,

    @Ryan – taxes and fees bring that up over 2 cents per mile

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