US Airways announces Grand Slam 2011

US Airways has just announced their annual “Grand Slam” promotion, which will run from September 14 through November 14 this year (registration required). This promotion offers bonus miles for completing certain “hits.” The more “hits” you rack up, the more bonus miles you earn, with a maximum of 110,000 miles. The earnings schedule is as follows:

4 hits: 3,000 miles
8 hits: 10,000 miles
12 hits: 15,000 miles
16 hits: 25,000 miles (2,000 of which are Preferred-qualifying miles)
20 hits: 35,000 miles
24 hits: 45,000 miles (5,000 of which are Preferred-qualifying miles)
28 hits: 60,000 miles
32 hits: 80,000 miles
36 hits: 100,000 miles
40 hits*: 110,000 miles (10,000 of which are Preferred-qualifying miles)

You can earn miles for all kinds of activities, from using a US Airways credit card to transferring hotel points to buying up to Preferred status to shopping through US Airways’ shopping mall, to buying miles.

Rather than recap everything here, take a look at US Airways’ website, which does a good job of laying everything out.

Now here’s my scary confession — I haven’t participated in the Grand Slam promotion in the past, and I don’t think I will this year either. I think the big question is, should I?

Let me put it this way — US Airways miles can be purchased for less than 1.5 cents each, so 100,000 miles would cost me $1,500 if I purchased them outright.

So if I went all out on this promotion, how much would I still end up spending to earn 100,000 miles?

Yes, there are some activities that are easy, so I’ll likely go for a few “hits” — do a search on their toolbar, buy miles I’d buy anyway, etc. But for the rest, what am I going to do? Buy one of those hideous garden gnomes from the SkyMall catalog to earn a hit? Get an ADT security system for my hot nut cupboard? Buy wine I’ll likely use to water my plants? Get an annual membership to LifeLock?

I guess I could credit a few hotel stays to US Airways, but I’d have to factor in the miles/points I would be losing out on by doing that. If I credit a Hyatt stay to US Airways, I’d be giving up the 2,500 Aeroplan miles I could otherwise earn. So there’s definitely a huge opportunity cost to that.

I’m not judging the promo one way or another, though I think the big question is — can one actually get real value out of this?

Feel free to share your thoughts, and I’ll be doing my own research too. If I find a way to earn 100,000 miles with an investment of maybe $500 and a bit of time, I’m in!

Comments

  1. No way. Not for me. The time required to acquire 100k miles from that, as well as the opportunity costs, make that an overall horrible promotion. If you want 100k miles, it’s much better to just buy them for $1500.

  2. Nah – if you manage multiple accounts and make sure you do all hits in the most efficient manner I think its a rather easy 110+k miles.

    You can do most hotel and car rentals for 4-5 accounts in a week or less if you live in the right place.

    Hotel transfer/ eshopping and the minor hits are done in one afternoon if you are fast with your mouse.

    Read teh Flyertalk recommendations on what to buy and $550-$650 turn into 113k miles multiple times.

  3. I played last year and got the easy ones for maybe 10,000 miles, but not worth the extra effort and the hotel transfers and hotel stay credits are generally bad deals as you suggest. YMMV.

    The Avis rental car hits are worth it for 3 day rentals, as you get 3,000 DM for such rentals anyway. Kudos to Gary for that tip. But I would only do that if i had plans to rent a car anyway.

  4. As a US elite, I’ll probably aim for the 16 or 24 hit mark, as a few thousand preferred qualifying miles will make requalifying for next year a bit easier.

  5. I spent between $500 and $600 last year and ended up with about 140k points (GS points plus the underlying points). I think it’s a decent value, but a bit time consuming, though some of the time is for the amusement value from the creativity of others and the random things one ends up buying.

    The wine is really awful stuff–not worth cooking with and will probably kill your plants.

  6. You make a good point about being able to buy the miles. I did not consider that. I think I’ll go for the easy hits but won’t go out of my way.

  7. I figure that there are so many people who have played in previous years that are very excited about the promotion, that I might as well give it a shot, too. Enthusiasm is infectious! I’m going to give it a real go this year, and just see what happens. Investing some time and $500-$600 to get 100,000 points sounds like fun to me! Of course, I won’t be watering my plants with any wine I might purchase. 🙂

  8. I like the idea multiple accounts idea to pick the low-hanging fruit, but I’m not going to waste my time on the rest.

  9. I did the grand slam for the first time last year and had success. I spend about $600 and that was with 4 extra hits for a back-up. If you have plenty of hotel points in all or most of the programs, that’s a big help. I planned ahead for this year and I’m hoping to get 40 hits for around $500. This should get me a first class ticket to Hawaii and within a few thousand miles of a coach ticket to Europe!

  10. I’d like to know how you can do You can do “most hotel and car rentals for 4-5 accounts in a week or less if you live in the right place.” how is this done?

  11. Every year, all travel bloggers claim that they are not going to participate to the full extent in the Grand Slam because they are too busy or whatever. However, at the end of the promotion, all these guys invariably end up racking the full 36 hits. So I call bull.

  12. “Earn 1 hit for every credit or debit card use per card type.”

    Does this mean 1 hit every time you use the card? Seems easy…

  13. Lucky,

    Am I crazy, or did you once do a thread where you attempted to value hotel points on a cents per point basis (Please note that those two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.)? I looked but couldn’t find it and thought it would be useful for this promo.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  14. Ben,
    I got =the United Months of Miles promotion for 1000 miles/2 activities. Is it worthwhile going all out to dining establishments and making small purchases over the next few months to get a couple hundred UA miles? I have had a mileage plus account and rarely flew UA until the CO merger. By my calculations, I can earn 500 miles for spending $1.02 on a bag of chips, cookie, bagel, etc a several nearby coffee and sandwich shops. Should I be going all out for this offer?

  15. ^hundred thousands that is. Anyway, I plan to use them for a LX F or SQ F award eventually which I’ve wanted to do for a while.

  16. @Josh == how do you calculate getting 500 miles for spending 1.02 at your local restaurant from the United promo?? If thats the case, 100K miles would be like $200!

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