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People Are Asking: Should I Take Advantage of the US Airways Buy Miles for 1.1 Cents Offer?

The travelblogeteria ™ has gone a little bananas about the US Airways offer where you can basically buy miles at 1.1 cents each (by transferring to another account holder). I’ve gotten a couple of questions from people about whether they should take advantage of this. Here are some thoughts:

– If you were planning on purchasing a ticket, especially in business class to North Asia, where US Airways only charges 90,000 miles for a roundtrip, then this is certainly a good option – you’re basically buying a business class ticket for $1,000. Great.

– Think about what trip you are using these miles for – for people accustomed to using US Airways miles easily on Star Alliance carriers, that ship has sailed a bit. Take a look at availability on Oneworld airlines for trips you think you may want to take. It differs greatly from what you were used to with Star (starting with the insane fuel surcharges on British Airways, which makes getting to Europe much more difficult, and Africa basically impossible without surcharges).

– As many others have pointed out far more times than I have, US Airways allows a stop in Europe on your way to Asia for free. Maybe this benefits you, maybe it doesn’t. I think this used to be a more valuable perk when they were with Star Alliance because there were lots of non-fuel-surcharge partners to get you to Europe, and then onward to Asia. This is less the case now with Oneworld, though keep in mind that some Star (and non-star) partners are still bookable with US Airways miles (Aegean, Air China, Avianca, Jet Airways, Shenzhen Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Portugal, and Turkish; Air New Zealand can be booked until June 29; Avianca can be booked until May 31st, Eva Air until May 14, and Singapore until July 31). That does reduce the number of options to Europe and onward to Asia (without fuel surcharges), but you do have some choices there.

– I never buy miles speculatively. I know that lots of people do. I’m very happy for them. But I have a lot of miles sitting around, and the idea of spending $1,000 to get a bunch more to throw on the pile seems a little nutty to me. Plus, I can get 100,000 AA miles pretty easily with the AA Citi Exec card (where you’re basically buying 100,000 miles for $250), or 40,000 US Airways miles for $89 with their credit card.

– This can be a great option if you do need to top off an award and you don’t have Starwood miles to transfer to US Airways.

Don’t get caught up in the excitement – this deal does make sense for some people, but I really don’t recommend grabbing these miles just because everyone else is.

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  1. Thanks for the voice of reason Jared. I’m sitting on exactly 0 US Airways miles, but I could always “borrow” some from my dad’s account (137K+) if I needed too.

  2. On the scale of the price of miles: 40K SPG pts would incur $316 in VR or PP fees. (A little harder now…)

    Still much better than 50K US miles for $567.50.

    • Excellent point…

      • True, but this redemption is essentially effortless. Accumulating 40K Starwood points would require the purchase of about 80 reloadable/gift cards. Moreover, assuming there aren’t enough hours in the day to do unlimited manufactured spending, if you bought these miles, you could be charging those gift cards to another card, say ClubCarlson, that would give you a large number of hotel rooms for free that you’d otherwise have to purchase. Call it opportunity cost if you will.

  3. I think this offer only makes sense in two circumstances: 1) you’re planning on redeeming for int’l premium class travel (the current US award charts are justifiably famous for these opportunities; 2) you’re “topping off” to get a particular award for your family.

    I don’t think you can really lose money buying US frequent flyer miles at 1.1 cents, but people have to understand that US’s own award availability is horrible. Right up there with Delta’s. I’ve been doing a lot of award searches for US because of their new participation in Avios. There are some incredible domestic USA awards on Avios, IF US only had standard award seats available. Most times that any “ordinary” traveler would want to travel, they won’t be able to find seats. Heck, just today I found a transcon flight that US was selling for $159 (an extremely low price these days), but was deemed by US as “too valuable” to offer award seats on.

    So it’s going to be a hassle to redeem these miles if you want to fly on US Airways. It will also be a hassle to redeem them on US Airways’ partner, albeit a slightly less hassle. Except for the two circumstances stated above, I think it’s more hassle than it’s worth. Just buy your tickets the “regular way” for ordinary travel.

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