Back in the day, US Airways used to offer a promotion on purchasing or sharing miles nearly every month. Rates ranged from ~1.2 to ~1.88 cents per mile, and it was a pretty reliable way to get discounted business class tickets to Asia.
It seems that as part of the merger, both airlines are adopting the frequency of mileage promotions, though with increased prices. In November and December both airlines sold miles for ~2.06 cents per mile, and they’ve just announced a new promotion for January.
Through January 30, 2015, you receive a 50% bonus on the the purchase of either American AAdvantage or US Airways Dividend Miles, as follows:
- 5,000-14,000 miles = 1,000 more bonus miles
- 15,000-24,000 miles = 5,000 more bonus miles
- 25,000-49,000 miles = 10,000 more bonus miles
- 50,000-69,000 miles = 22,500 more bonus miles
- 70,000-80,000 miles = 35,000 more bonus miles
While both airlines will let you purchase additional miles, the “sweet spot” is in purchasing 70,000 miles. This gives you a 35,000 mile bonus. With that you can pick up a total of 105,000 miles at a cost of $2,249.88, which is a rate of ~2.14 cents per mile.
That’s certainly not as good as the rate at which US Airways used to sell miles, and even not as good as the rate at which they sold miles recently. Still, it’s not a horrible offer, either.
Here are the links for the promotions:
For both airlines, accounts less than 12 days old aren’t eligible to purchase miles. US Airways transactions are processed through points.com, so buying miles wouldn’t count as airfare for the purposes of credit card spend. Meanwhile, American now sells miles directly, so should be eligible for bonus spend.
Which are better: American or US Airways miles?
AAdvantage and Dividend Miles will continue to be run separately through the second quarter of this year, at which point the programs will be combined. So even though the promotions are basically identical, the programs are still very different. Each program has different award chart “sweet spots.” AAdvantage allows one way awards for half the cost of a roundtrip and has more generous change policies, while US Airways has more generous routing rules.
Here’s a post I wrote a while back comparing the value of miles in both programs, for what it’s worth. I don’t think there’s one currency that’s more valuable across the board — it all depends on your specific needs.
Should you buy miles?
~2.14 cents per mile isn’t a rate at which I’d speculatively purchase miles. But with a specific use in mind, it certainly could be worthwhile. For example, through US Airways Dividend Miles, 120,000 miles is enough for Cathay Pacific first class roundtrip ticket between the US and Hong Kong, so for ~$2,600 out of pocket that’s still a heck of a deal.
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER first class
Both American and US Airways let you hold award tickets even without enough miles in your account (for five and three days, respectively), so that can be a great way to lock in the award you want before having to pull the trigger on purchasing miles.
It’s clear the “new” AAdvantage is still trying to find the sweet spot for selling miles. Selling miles has been big (and profitable) business for Dividend Miles, so I think they’re still trying to find the balance between generating revenue from it without devaluing the currency.
I wouldn’t buy miles speculatively through this offer, but with a specific use in mind, the numbers can work out in your favor…