US Airways almost seems like a premium cabin alliance consolidator at times, given for how many years they’ve been selling miles at very lucrative rates. Over the past several years there have been more months where they’ve sold miles with a 100% bonus than not.
Nowadays the cost to purchase US Airways miles is 3.5 cents per mile, plus a 7.5% federal excise tax, for a total of ~3.76 cents per mile. Then they’re usually offering a 100% bonus on purchased miles, bringing down the cost per purchased mile to ~1.88 cents.
That’s certainly not a rate at which I’d necessarily hoard miles, as the cost to generate miles with US Airways isn’t quite as good as it used to be:
- In 2011, US Airways raised the cost per purchased mile from 2.75 cents to 3.5 cents per mile
- US Airways’ most lucrative promotion used to offer a 100% bonus on shared miles, which was a way to generate miles for 1.1 cents each — they’re no longer offering that promotion, and recently have increased the cost per shared miles with a promotion by about 50%
- Some of the award chart “sweet spots” are no longer around — goodbye, 90,000 mile business class award between the US and North Asia
Redeem US Airways miles for Qatar Airways business class
All of this brings me to a claim that Gary makes:
I’m told that this is likely the last go of a 100% bonus on US Airways miles at current pricing. This isn’t a public or official pronouncement, but something I’ve been told — that as part of integrating the Dividend Miles and AAdvantage programs, at a latest case come November the bonus and pricing structure for US Airways miles will look more like the old American approach.
I haven’t heard that firsthand, but if Gary says it I would assume it’s true.
US Airways is offering up to a 100% bonus on purchased miles through September 30, 2014, so it might be worth revisiting that promotion in the context of this new information. Through this promotion they’re offering tiered bonuses based on the number of miles you purchase, as follows:
- 1,000-9,000 miles = 25% Bonus
- 10,000-19,000 miles = 50% Bonus
- 20,000-29,000 miles = 75% Bonus
- 30,000-50,000 miles = 100% Bonus
This new information is certainly making me consider “right sizing” some of my frequent flyer accounts. For example, earlier in the year I generated 90,000 miles for several US Airways accounts thanks to the 100% bonus on shared miles, so now I’m trying to decide if I should top them off into more useful increments, given the new information we have. Then again, you have to generate a minimum of 60,000 miles in order to get the 100% bonus, so that’s not exactly “topping off.”
I’m skeptical that US Airways will actually change the way they sell miles. I’m not at all questioning Gary, but I kind of feel like selling miles is a habit they’ll have a hard time breaking. I’ll be curious to see what the changes will be — will they heavily restrict the number of miles you can purchase, raise the cost per purchased mile, or scrap these “sales” altogether?
What do you think?