50% Bonus When You Buy American & US Airways Miles

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 mileand 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

Buy-US-Airways-Miles

 

Buy-American-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.

Buy-Miles

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-First-Class-Bed
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.

Bottom line

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…

Comments

  1. Could you theoretically buy from both US Airways and AA and then would have the US miles transferred to AA in Q2? So you would net 210,000 (105,000 each) for $4,499.76 total.

    If you need miles for a trip in Aug. for a family of 4 or 5 and want to fly in a premium cabin would this be possible, or would it be akin to double-dipping.

  2. @lucky

    Is AA still processing their own miles so I can get airfare bonus on my Amex Gold PRG?
    What about US Airways?

  3. @ Cee — Per the post:

    “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.”

  4. You always say these promotions aren’t at rates you’d speculatively purchase miles, so I’m just wondering – how cheap would they need to be before you would?

  5. Hey Ben,

    Sorry to sound dumb, and I’m sure you’ve posted this before but is there anywhere where we can see what Oneworld flights are available in awards? Kind of like how we can for Star Alliance with NH?

    Thanks!!!! 😀

  6. Since I have the Citi AA card, if I redeem those bought points, I get back 10%, making the cost less than 2.1 cents. Am I right in that thinking?

  7. @ glennpok — Correct, some AA cards do come with a 10% rebate on awards, whereby you’ll be refunded 10% of the award cost after ticketing.

  8. Hi Ben,

    I want to take a F award ticket with US to North Asia-Europe traveling in June, and I have not enough US miles, but I have tons of AA miles. My dilemma: should I buy US miles before end of January, and I need plenty, or should I wait, hoping that there will be a time (before June) in the process of combining programs when I will be able to transfer my excess AA miles to US miles?

    Or are you sure this transfer will never be possible, at least in my time frame?

    I will appreciate any thoughtful head up.

  9. @ DCBanker — The programs should be merged in the second quarter, though there are no plans to allow transfers between programs before they merge. So your best bet is to buy the miles if you absolutely want to use US Airways miles.

  10. @ Jon — Technically mileage purchases aren’t supposed to qualify, though in practice you never know. I think if you buy a lot of miles the transaction may be too big to trigger the reimbursement.

  11. “For both airlines, accounts less than 12 days old aren’t eligible to purchase miles.”

    Does this mean one could sign-up now, and still have time to purchase miles in 12 days time before the end of the promo? In which case, what is the 12 day rule trying to protect against?

  12. @ Paul — Correct, you could indeed. It’s somewhat of an arbitrary rule, though the idea is just so you can’t sign-up for a hundred accounts and instantly purchase miles out of them.

  13. @ Lucky – thanks 🙂 And just to confirm my thinking, I could use these for JAL F o/w HND-SFO (availability permitting, which seems pretty good…). Any benefit to me using either AA or US for this?

  14. @ Paul — If you want a one way you’ll want to do American, since they allow one ways for half the cost of a roundtrip. US Airways doesn’t, however.

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