Historically US Airways’ 100% bonus on shared miles is the golden standard of airline promotions. It has been a way to generate miles for ~1.1 cents each, which is an incredible value. US Airways charges 120,000 miles for a first class award between the US and North Asia, so that’s like paying ~$1,300 for a roundtrip first class ticket on Cathay Pacific between the US and Hong Kong.
In mid-June I initially jumped up and down out of excitement when I saw US Airways announced a 100% bonus on shared miles, though two things were different than in the past:
- The cost to share miles has increased from 1.0 to 1.5 cents per mile (plus the transaction fee and taxes)
- Instead of the receiving account getting the 100% bonus, they’re splitting it and giving the account doing the sharing a 50% bonus, and the account being shared with a 50% bonus
This promotion runs through Monday, June 30, 2014, so I figured it would be worth posting a reminder in case you want to take advantage of it this weekend.
Under these new terms the lowest cost at which you can generate miles is 1.6725 cents per mile. That would be by sharing 50,000 miles at a cost of $836.25, which is 1.6725 cents per mile. Then the “giving” account would receive 25,000 bonus miles (for a net loss of 25,000 miles after the 50,000 miles are transferred out) and the receiving account would receive 25,000 bonus miles (for a net again of of 75,000 miles after the 50,000 miles are transferred in).
Is the 100% bonus on shared miles worth it?
The promotion certainly isn’t as much of a no brainer as in the past. That being said, I think it could still be worth it:
- When US Airways has a 100% bonus on purchased miles, they charge ~1.88 cents per mile, which is otherwise the lowest cost to purchase US Airways miles
- Now that US Airways has actually changed the terms and cost of the share miles promotion, I doubt we’ll ever see another 100% share miles promotion at 1.1 cents each, so this might just be the best value for generating US Airways miles
- US Airways does still have a very attractive award chart for oneworld redemptions, so with a specific use in mind you could get a lot of value out of this promotion
How will I use this promotion?
The biggest challenge with this promotion isn’t so much the cost per purchase mile, in my opinion, but rather that 50% of the bonus miles go to the account of the person sharing miles, and 50% of the bonus miles go to the account of the person that miles are being shared with. For those of us that are mathematically challenged, that can be kinda fun.
Here’s how this promotion can be useful for me. All my family members have US Airways accounts, and several of them have exactly 90,000 US Airways miles, which used to be enough for an award from the US to North Asia via Europe in business class. US Airways devalued that award without notice a couple of months back, so now using those 90,000 miles isn’t quite as practical (though there are other “gem” redemptions which you can use 90,000 miles for).
So this is a good way to “top off” both accounts so that they each have 120,000 miles, which is enough for a first class award from the US to Asia.
Account A: 90,000 miles
Account B: 90,000 miles
Step one (transfer 30,000 miles):
Account A: (90,000 miles – 30,000 miles + 15,000 miles) = 75,000 miles
Account B: (90,000 miles + 30,000 bonus miles + 15,000 miles) = 135,000 miles
Step two (transfer 30,000 miles back):
Account A: (75,000 miles + 30,000 miles + 15,000 bonus miles) = 120,000 miles
Account B: (135,000 miles – 30,000 miles + 15,000 bonus miles) = 120,000 miles
In the end I would be generating 60,000 additional miles at a cost of ~$1,000.
Basic promotion terms
As is usually the case with US Airways, your account has to be open at least 12 days in order to be eligible for a promotion. Furthermore, no account can receive more than 50,000 bonus miles during the share miles promotion. So if you transfer more than 100,000 miles (pre-bonus) into an account, you won’t receive a bonus for those additional transferred miles.
This promotion isn’t amazing and not something I would speculatively take advantage of, but it can be great for “right sizing” Dividend Miles accounts, and also great with a specific use in mind. I expect going forward this is as cheap as US Airways mileage purchases will get.