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With no US Airways Grand Slam to pad my US Airways Dividend miles accounts, I have been left wanting to generate more cheap and easy US Airways miles. While US Airways miles have their limitations, they also have their strengths. The two strengths of greatest interest to me are off-peak round trips to Europe in their Envoy Suites for 55,000 miles if you have a US Airways card (60,000 without) and their business class round trip tickets to Australia for 110,000 miles.
While the off-peak awards to Europe are US Airways metal specific, the business class tickets to Australia are not. Like most US Airways awards, you can book them with various Star Alliance carriers. I had been planning on getting our balances high enough for three business class tickets to Australia with this year’s Grand Slam. We all know how that plan turned out, but I am now tempted to go in pretty big with the current “Share Miles” promotion that is available from October 1st – October 31st.
Here’s how it works…I share miles with my husband and get a 100% bonus for doing so. For example, say I transfer 50,000 miles to his account at a cost of 1 cent per mile + taxes/fees. He will end up with the 50,000 miles transferred from my account + 50,000 miles from US Airways as a bonus. That will give him a total of 100,000 miles (assuming a start from 0) at a cost of $567.50. My account will have 50,000 fewer miles than it did before the transfer. That comes to 1.135 cents per mile acquired as a result of the 100% bonus – which is a very good price. If you purchase at that rate, and then use them on an off-peak ticket to Europe and back in an Envoy Suite for 55,000 miles (if you have a US Airways card that provides the 5,000 mile discount), it is basically a cost of $642.25 for that ticket. In my book that is an amazing price for an Envoy suite to and from Europe.
Even at this amazing price, there still are some downsides. First, even if it is an amazing price, it is still a price. Not everyone has $567.50 sitting around waiting to be used to purchase miles. Many of us chase miles because we don’t have the money to spend on travel, so it is an unreasonable jump to assume that buying miles is always a possibility, even if it is at a good price. Also to share miles in order to get the bonus miles at 1.135 cents, you have to have the miles to share (or know someone who does). Not everyone has tens of thousands of US Airways miles sitting in their account. You can transfer in US Airways miles from the Starwood Preferred Guest program at a rate of 25,000 miles for every 20,000 points transferred, but you still have to have those points available for transfer.
There is also always the risk of an award chart change or devaluation that makes the miles much less valuable. There also has to be award seat availability in order for you to use your miles. I say all of those things to point out that I realize this deal isn’t for everyone. I’m not even 100% sure if it is for me, but it might be. While this price is not as lucrative as how I obtained miles via the Grand Slam, it is a very reasonable price if you plan to use the miles for something like Envoy Suites or premium cabin travel. Even if I wasn’t able to use the miles for trips like that, I could always redeem them for in 25,000 mile chunks for domestic round trips on United. At 1.135 cents a mile, that is the equivalent of $283.75 for a round trip ticket. Of course, those tickets wouldn’t then be earning miles, but it isn’t a terrible rate for many domestic tickets these days.
To really earn a bunch of miles through this promotion, you can continue the “sharing train” that I started in the scenario above. I can share 50,000 miles with my husband, who would then have 100,000 miles. He can then share 50,000 with our daughter. He would be down to 50,000, and she would have 100,000. She could then share 50,000 with me, and she would be down to 50,000, and I would end up 50,000 ahead of where I started when I first shared 50,000 with my husband. In the end our accounts are all 50,000 miles higher at a cost of $567.50 each. Each account can only end up with one 50,000 bonus transferred in. Of course you can share fewer than 50,000 miles at a lower cost if you choose. Be aware that accounts must be 12 days old to buy or share miles, so have family members open accounts now if you may need them for this before the end of October.
I don’t personally recommend participating in this promotion if you aren’t pretty clear how you are going to redeem your miles. If you want to book in the immediate future, US Airways does allow you to hold award tickets, so you can secure your award before “sharing miles”. It goes without saying, but I also don’t recommend putting yourself in a tight financial situation just to get in on this. It may take longer, but use other routes such as getting the US Airways card and participating in their spending bonuses to generate US Airways miles if you don’t have the cash available to purchase the miles.
Are you planning on purchasing miles, or do you think that purchasing miles at this (or any) rate is always a bad idea? If you do plan to purchase miles, I’d love to hear how you plan to use them!