Some tips for maximizing US Airways’ 100% bonus on shared miles

On Monday US Airways launched what is hands down their most lucrative promotion of the year for generating miles, whereby you can get a 100% bonus on shared miles. While a 100% bonus on purchased miles is offered just about every month, the 100% bonus on shared miles is a bit rarer. Through sharing miles with a 100% bonus it’s possible to generate miles for a cent a piece, plus a 7.5% tax, plus a $30 transaction fee. So I figured I’d provide some tips for maximizing the promotion in the form of answering some questions I’ve been getting.

US_Airways_Share_Miles_Promotion

Up front it’s worth noting that in order to take advantage of this promotion your Dividend Miles account has to be open for at least 12 days. Today is October 2 and the promotion ends October 15, so if you want to take advantage of this promotion today is the day you’ll want to sign up for any Dividend Miles accounts you may need.

How do I maximize this promotion if I don’t have any miles right now?

So I’m sure if you have no miles right now you’re probably wishing you had purchased some during the last 100% bonus on purchased miles, where you could acquire miles at ~1.88 cents each. But if you didn’t do that, what are your best options?

Well, US Airways is a transfer partner with Starwood, so you can try to initiate a transfer there. The catch is that they don’t seem to post with an exact timeline, but generally speaking they almost always post within two weeks, so my guess is that would still work.

Otherwise US Airways does have a Dividend Miles Multiplier. When you purchase a revenue ticket online you’ll be given the option to double and triple your miles for roughly two cents per mile. It can take several days for the miles to post, though whether they post or not is independent of whether you decide to cancel the ticket (though of course you’ll still be charged for the mileage multiplier).

Can I make multiple transfers?

Yes, the only major restriction here is that you can transfer no more than 50,000 miles (pre-bonus) into an account. That means you can transfer 1,000 miles into an account 50 times, 25,000 miles into an account twice, or 50,000 miles into an account once — the choice is yours. You can transfer as many miles as you’d like out of an account. To be on the safe side I probably wouldn’t transfer back and forth between the same two accounts, if at all possible.

Can I have more than one US Airways Dividend Miles account?

The terms and conditions of the program state that you can only have one Dividend Miles account per person. That being said, you can always sign your family and friends up for Dividend Miles accounts instead.

How do I maximize this promotion if I only have one account?

For example, I have a US Airways account with 90,000 miles (which I purchased during the last 100% bonus on purchased miles so that I’d have enough for an award ticket to North Asia). Then let’s say I have two accounts with no miles in them.

I could then transfer 45,000 miles to each of those two different accounts for $513.75 each, and then both of those accounts would have 90,000 miles in them. If you have four more US Airways accounts then you could do the same thing again, and transfer 45,000 miles from each of those two accounts to the four empty accounts for $513.75 each, and then you’d have four accounts with 90,000 miles each. Theoretically you could do that as often as you’d like, assuming you have enough Dividend Miles accounts.

But what if US Airways devalues their award chart?

Usually when there are promotions for purchasing miles I suggest not buying miles speculatively, but rather only buying them when you have a specific short term use in mind. In this case though the miles are so cheap that I do suggest buying them speculatively.

There’s no doubt there are some gems on the award chart right now that will be devalued eventually. For example, business class awards between the US and North Asia cost just 90,000 miles, so right now you can literally generate the miles for a business class ticket to Asia via Europe for $1,000.

But even if many of US Airways’ award costs are devalued by 25% or so, we’re still looking at the equivalent of buying miles at 1.4 cents under the current award chart. So while I’d definitely make an effort to redeem sooner rather than later, the opportunity to buy miles this cheap doesn’t come around every day.

Will buying miles count as airfare spend for the purposes of my credit card?

The transactions will be processed by points.com, so won’t count as airfare spend for the purposes of your credit card. As a result you’re best off using a credit card that gives you substantial points for “base” spend, like the Starwood American Express, for example.

Anyway, if anyone has any other questions about the promotion, let me know!

Comments

  1. would this be ok:

    i transfer 50,000 miles to mom.
    mom, who now has 100,000 miles, transfers 50,000 to me and 50,000 to dad.

  2. Ben! This is totally off topic but I booked saver space in LH first today for November 8! Way more than 15 days out!!!

    They also had for my return (11/20) but the connections (through DC to get to NYC) were too much. Hoping that my direct opens up. Just thought I would let you know. So psyched!

  3. @ Heather — Wow, that’s awesome! And when you log into the itinerary on united.com you don’t see a message that says “this segment is waitlisted” or anything?

  4. @Ben: I kinda wanna email you my screenshot. No waitlisted. Just says “This reservation was confirmed and ticketed on Wednesday, October 2, 2013”. I am connecting in Germany for an eventual trip to Italy so maybe that threw something off?

  5. @Lucky,
    Thank you very much again for detailed analysis.

    Two Qs:
    1. 90,000 miles b/t US and North Asia is a reward roundtrip business class price, not one way, am I right?
    2. Is it possible to book one way award ticket (US to Asia) for 45K US Airways miles (and, then indepedently buy an one way transpacific ticket from Asia to US such as AA 35K miles award ticket)?

    My additional thoughts:
    3. even if US Airways devalues soon the 90K US to Asia flight, assuming US Airways could merge with AA and US Airways miles is 1:1 to AA miles, then it is not a bad deal to fly US to Asia via Pacific Ocean an economy class for AA 70K miles roundtrip class (63K miles with Citi Aa credit card), or, business class for AA 110K miles (100K miles with Citi AA credit card).

  6. @ Andy —

    1) Correct.
    2) No, US Airways charges the same number of miles for a one-way as they do for a roundtrip.

  7. Lucky – thanks for pointing out that comment. what about this:

    I transfer 50,000 to mom. mom, now has 100,000, transfers 25,000 to dad; dad, now has 50,000, transfers all 50,000 to me. is it ok in this case since I am transferring from A to B to C to A?

    My goal is to end up with enough miles in my account so that I can take advantage of 50% refund of miles promotion (only my account was targeted)

  8. @Lucky,
    One more question:
    In your Jan 2013 posting to explain how to book US Airways 90K miles flight (US to Asia with stopover in Europe), you picked up an example where you landed in one Europe city, fly to another Europe city, and then fly to Asia. My question is, can you skip the middle flight within the two Europe cities (because that is your travel sightseeing tour)? I meant, can you book your ticket: outbound — NYC to Paris, London to Beijing where you skip Paris to London flight; inbound — Beijing to NYC via any city in Europe?

    An alternative is, you still get the inter-europe-city tickets but do not fly on board. In that case, will airline company punish you somewhat? (In the past, I read story that some airline automatically cancelled your return flight if you did not complete all the department segments).

  9. typo: In the past, I read story that some airline automatically cancelled your return flight if you did not complete all the “departure” segments

  10. @ Andy — Technically you can’t since you can’t have both a stopover and an open jaw on a single award with US Airways — it has to be one or the other.

    If you skip a segment all your onward flights are supposed to be canceled.

  11. While not as fast, it’s cheaper to manufacture 40k Starwood points and transfer to US Airways with the 10k total bonus.

    @Heather — which plane is the award in? I’ve seen plenty of Airbus space but isn’t that their old first class? The 747-8 is still hard to find.

  12. Oh ok, in that case it’s not an anomaly. I’ve noticed the A330 and A340 first show up pretty consistently, I just thought it was an inferior product so never bothered to book it.

  13. @ rick b — Well phantom space has long shown up on united.com, but the fact that it’s bookable is a development.

  14. There are a few dates in November and December from YUL-MUC available right now, on the A343 with new F. Get them while they are hot…

  15. Thanks for this info. I don’t have Dividend miles but do have Starpoints. However, you value Starpoints at 2.2 cents. So would it be worth it to transfer my Starpoints to take advantage of this offer even if I don’t have any immediate plans to use the miles?

  16. @ Luis — Really tough to say without knowing how many Starpoints you have or what your long term plans are. If you transferred 20K Starpoints you’d get 25K US Airways miles, which is the same as 1.76 cents per mile. That’s a pretty good rate, so I’d probably go for it and then share miles from there.

  17. Going for it and then hoping they don’t devalue too much before I can book in June or July for a trip in May/June of 2015. I’m hopeful that if the merger is approved and they continue to operate as separate airlines, they won’t bother changing the chart for that interim period before they make a single award chart. Maybe we’ll even get a period where we can transfer between AA and US miles and book on either chart.

  18. Lucky,

    My husband & I both have a pile of US Dividend miles. Is it OK if we both transfer our miles to each other once, @ the same time? It wouldn’t really be the back & forth into the same account that you warn about above.

    Thanks.

  19. Hey Lucky,

    Just wanted to thank you again for the great info and your unfailing response to comments. You are the best! Enjoyed your presentations in TPA! Now….off to the Park Hyatt Milan flying AB with Avios. Will report on their new biz class seats, which are supposed to be the same as Emirates.

  20. @ zippypam — Thanks for the kind words, and let me know how else I can help. Hope you have a great trip, and please do report back on Air Berlin’s new business class!

  21. Hi Lucky- To your knowledge, has US Airways allowed redemption in LH first, since their announced unavailability 1/1/2013? I’ll be flying out later this week and I see availability on the UA site and was wondering if it was worth attempting in changing my flights. I want a blue duck from FCT too!

  22. @ CalAggie21 — I’ve had luck earlier in the year, but unfortunately not any luck in the past couple of months.

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