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Earlier this month I posted that US Airways is back at it again offering a 100% bonus on purchased miles (expires November 30, 2013). There is no minimum number of miles you can purchase, but it is capped at 50,000 miles. Unfortunately, this promotion is targeted so you will have to sign into your US Airways account to see if your account is eligible.
Based on information that came out few days ago, it looks like the US Airways and American Airlines merger is underway. While the two airlines will remain separate in 2014 (exact dates are TBD), eventually the mileage programs will be combined in your AAdvantage account. In the meantime, however, chances are you will be able to transfer points freely between the two program – at least this was the case with United and Continental.
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. However, with the current 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, a much better value than the sporadic AAdvantage promotion (where you were purchasing miles at 2 cents/point).
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. With all the massive devaluations that have taken place recently, I’d be weary purchasing without a specific usage. However, this will be far cheaper than purchasing American Airline miles outright and definitely better than any promotion they’ve had in the past. Typically when American Airlines runs a purchase miles promotion it is at a 30% bonus.
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.