A Mommy’s Newbie Guide to the US Airways 2011 Grand Slam Promotion

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I was way too busy last year with a big move coupled with a very high-maintenance, colicky infant to get involved with the US Airways Grand Slam promotion.  I briefly saw a post or two about it on Flyertalk, but didn’t give it a second thought due to the previously mentioned reasons, and the fact that I don’t usually fly on US Airways flights.  I incorrectly assumed that the promo was then not for me.  Thankfully, this year I have a happy and healthy toddler, I am not in the middle of a move, and I understand several reasons why the US Airways Grand Slam is definitely good for my family.

I am going to cover some of the reasons why this promo is good for my family, and might be for yours.  I am then going to start to (try) to explain how the promo works, and provide a newbie strategy to begin planning how to earn as many points as possible for your family.  There is no way to cover every aspect of this promo in one post.  So, I will continue to post about this promo as the weeks progress.  I promise that Mommy Points will not turn into the Mommy Points Grand Slam Blog, but I will post about the hits that I get, and tips that I learn to earn hits as economically and simply as possible.

Having never played before myself, I promise to keep my strategy and explanations as simple as possible.  Consider this a Newbie’s Guide to the Grand Slam Promo…….literally.  🙂

Reasons why the US Airways Grand Slam is good for families:

Plain and simply, you can earn a lot of miles.  Usually the only way to get 100,000 points at once is to win a contest or land a fantastic credit card sign-up bonus.  To put it in perspective, domestic US coach tickets are 25,000 miles each; off-peak Business Class tickets from North American to Europe are 60,000 miles each; and coach tickets from the US and Hawaii are 40,000 miles each.  Clearly, 100,000 miles can get you any of those tickets, and more.

When you need to buy 2, 3, 4, or more seats for your family, you need large chunks of miles.  This is a way to get a large chunk of miles without having to acquire a new credit card.  I am trying to lay low on the credit card front for the rest of the year since my credit score has already taken a bit of a hit from the cards I have been applying for, so I am especially excited about a different way to earn miles quickly.

While I wouldn’t rule out flying on US Airways, I like that they are a partner of an airline that I do fly frequently, Continental/United.  You can redeem US Airway miles for seats on Continental flights.  In my colicky infant hell haze last year, I think I forgot that fact.  Otherwise, I might have stepped up to the bat for this promo a year sooner!

How the promo works:

This promo is based off of how many “hits” you can get between September 14 – November 14.  You earn hits by having “qualifying activity” in your US Airways Dividend account.  That is the US Airways frequent flier program – sign-up here.  Once you get to a certain threshold of hits, you earn more miles.

In order to earn close to the full 100,000, it will require that your family spend some money to earn enough “hits” (I’ll explain more in a minute) to reach the larger miles payouts.  Check out this chart to see the hits/miles relationship.

It does no good to end the promotion in-between hit thresholds.  For example, if you are at 16 hits, it does you no good to purposefully go out and earn 1 or 2 more hits.  You should plan to go out and get 4 more in order to end at 20 and earn an additional 10,000 miles.

While it will likely not cost much, if anything, to earn the first few hits, if you plan to make a run at earning upwards of 20 – 40 hits, there will likely be some cost incurred by your family.  If you have a lot of business travel that your company pays for, it is possible to have very little out-of-pocket expense for this promo.  For the rest of us that don’t have significant business travel, it is reasonable to expect that 40 hits may cost in the $400-$600 range if you are able to plan your hits wisely.  That estimate is somewhat based off of last year’s information, so this year may vary.  Be very mindful of how much 100,000 miles is worth to your family.  Just to give you some perspective, you can buy that many miles right now from US Airways for about $1400 dollars.

Promo Categories (copied from the US Airways promotion website):

  1. Earn 1 hit when you buy a new US Airways Club membership or renew your current club membership during this promotion (max 1 hit per member).
  2. Earn 1 hit for every credit or debit card use per card type. You can earn this bonus once for each unique card partner: US Airways MasterCard, US Airways Business Card, US Airways Visa, US Airways Visa Business Card and US Airways debit card.
  3. Earn 1 hit for every mileage-earning stay with a hotel partner (max 6 hits per member). There are 11 hotel families representing over 70 hotel brands: Best Western, Carlson Hotels (Radisson), Choice Hotels, Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, WORLDHOTELS and Wyndham Hotels Group.
  4. Earn 1 hit for every mileage-earning car rental with a car partner (max 6 hits per member). There are 8 car partners: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Sixt and Thrifty.
  5. Earn 1 hit when you convert hotel points from a hotel partner into Dividend Miles (max 1 hit per hotel partner). There are 9 hotel partners: Best Western Rewards, Choice Privileges, Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, InterContinental Hotel Group (Priority Club), Marriott Rewards, Radisson (Club Carlson), Starwood Hotels (SPG) and Wyndham Rewards.
  6. Earn 1 hit when you make a qualifying purchase at the US Airways Dividend Miles Shopping Mall. Maximum 1 hit regardless of number of merchants used at the Shopping Mall. Purchases of SkyMall merchandise does not count towards Shopping Mall, but does count as a unique hit.
  7. Earn 1 hit when you download and perform 3 searches.
  8. Earn 1 hit when you buy miles at usairways.com or points.com.
  9. Earn 1 hit when you share miles at usairways.com or points.com.
  10. Earn 1 hit when you swap other points into Dividend Miles at points.com.
  11. Earn 1 hit when you Buy up to Preferred.
  12. Earn 1 hit when you buy ‘Trial Preferred’ status.
  13. Earn 1 hit with each of our other Dividend Miles partners, such as Sentry Insurance, SkyMall, FTD.com and LifeLock.

The problem with this list is that it way over-simplifies how to earn hits.  Some of these things, such as certain hotel stays, have minimums and caveats that you have to dig a little deeper to find.  Those are the sort of details I am going to help with in future posts.  I am very thankful for the US Airways threads on Flyertalk and Milepoint, as they provide much of the information that I will sift through and share with you.  I highly encourage you to spend some time on those threads if you plan to become very active in this promo!

Things to do now:

  • Register for the promotion.  It would be horrible to think you are earning “hits”, only to realize you never registered for the promotion!  Once you have successfully registered, you will see a “Thanks for signing up” message.
  • Work on increasing your balances in US Airways hotel partners accounts.  See #5 above for a list of those partners.  Transferring points from those accounts into your US Airways account can account for up to 9 hits!
  • Start thinking about how much you would be willing to spend to earn 100,000 points.  Personally, I will probably be willing to spend in the $500 range, but budgets and desires vary in every family, so give that some thought.
  • Think about the business and personal trips you have planned from Sept 14 to Nov 14 and what you can do to make sure you are utilizing as many US Airways hotel and car rental partners as possible to maximize this promo.  When the time comes, you will need to temporarily change your point earnings with those hotel and car rental companies to US Airways miles.
  • Check out a spreadsheet to keep track of all of your earnings.  There is one here for you to see.  It actually helped me get a better understanding of the promo to see the spreadsheet!
  • As time allows, read the threads I linked to above on Milepoint and Flyertalk.  They are chalk full of info – but the threads will quickly become insanely long.  I will summarize some of the main points and tips here as time goes on.

While this promo is admittedly a little overwhelming at first, I am very excited to take part and see how many miles I can earn for my family.  Don’t write it off just yet simply because it sounds confusing, we can work our way through it together!  Or, you can help all of us if you are a seasoned Grand Slam veteran!  We are a baseball loving family, so that “Grand Slam” theme certainly is helping get us get our competitive juices flowing.  You can see how excited Little C is to help do her part!!

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  1. I need to join the Dividend miles program first. Is there any code to get miles for joining? I am looking forward to getting started.

  2. Looks like a royal pain in the backside . Especially if you don’t travel that much which eliminates a lot of the car rental and hotel options. This is great for some folks but for the general population it doesn’t do much. However, from USAirs standpoint it shows great foresight to build traffic with those who they do stand to make some air fare money off of and doesn’t cost them a lot from the standpoint of the general population not being able to hop on.

  3. You are amazing and you rock. I am looking forward to see more of your posts. When you said “Personally, I will probably be willing to spend in the $500 range” Did you mean just for yourself or that includes your spouse also?

  4. @Faith, glad to have another Grand Slam newbie with me. We can all help each other!

    @Diane, I have seen 1000-2000 mile bonuses for signing up in the past, but I am not aware of one that is currently being offered. If you find one, please let me know. I like the way you think!

    @Joyce, I think there is a decent chance that Hyatt will (hopefully) have another promo come out soon, so if he is staying at the same hotel hopefully he can take advantage of a Hyatt promo, too. I will let you know if/when they announce their next promo!

    @Todd, I totally understand where you are coming from. It is certainly not the “simplest” promo out there. Considering how excited many people get year after year about this promo, I am more than willing to give it a shot this year and see how it works out. I completely get that it won’t be for everyone!

    @Caveman, thanks for the nice comment. 🙂 The $500 would be in reference to just my account. He is very supportive of my miles hunting, but I think for this first year of doing the Grand Slam we will just be focusing on getting hits for one account.

  5. Is it really worth it to transfer hotel points? I have Hilton, SPG, Priority Club points, and Sapphire points that could transfer to Marriott and Hyatt then USAirways, but I value them too much to transfer them at the posted rates!

    • DKAS, there is some fabulous info on obtaining hotel points for transfers here. Hope that helps. Also, you still need to tell me where you want your $100 contest prize gift card from!

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