Buying US Airways Miles with a 100% Bonus: 7 Reasons It’s Not a Good Deal

Buying US Airways with 100 Percent Bonus-5 Reasons It's Not a Good Deal


US Airways is offering a 100% bonus on purchased US Airways miles through September 30, but I haven't written about it because I don't consider it a good deal. That said, some readers have asked about it, so I'll outline my 7 reasons why it's not a good deal, at least for me…and no, it's not because I'm annoyed that US Airways apparently isn't running their Grand Slam this year! 

In fact, while there are a few gems in the current US Airways Award Chart, not to mention the ability to route almost anywhere you can convince a US Airways agent to book you, I'm only accruing US Airways miles in order to convert them to AAdvantage miles with the US Airways American Airlines Merger.

7 Reasons US Airways Miles Aren't Worth It

1. US Airways Devalues Miles With No Notice

January 2013 Update: As Wandering Aramean points out, US Airways, with no notice, recently increased miles for several awards with no notice to Dividend Miles members whatsoever. Here are the key changes:

  • No more off peak business class awards to Europe. Previously, these were 55,000 miles roundtrip for US Airways credit card holders, or 60,000 without the card. The only off-peak business awards left are to South America and the Caribbean.
  • Saver first class to Hawaii increased from 70,000 points to 80,000 points
  • Alaska now is a separate zone from North America, and medium and high awards have increased by 10,000 miles for medium awards and by 20,000 for high awards (these are for US Air flights only)
  • Medium and high business class awards between North America and the Middle East increased from 180,000 to 225,000 miles (medium) and from 240,000 miles 350,000 miles (high)
Even though I don't know anyone who would want to book the third and fourth examples, medium and high level awards on US Air metal, it's still pretty egregious to have increased all of these awards without any warning or notice.

2. Even with the 100% Buy Miles Bonus, You're Paying 1.88 cents per Mile

US Airways previously charged $0.0275 per mile, so when they ran a 100% bonus, it worked out to 1.48 cents per mile including tax. But in October 2011 US Airways raised the price per purchased mile to $0.035, so it's now 1.88 cents per mile including tax. Meanwhile, I can earn plenty of United miles with bonuses and spending on Chase credit cards (my next point) and I can earn American miles for 0.5 cents per mile, less than a third of the cost of purchasing US Airways miles even with the bonus.


3. Can't Book One Way Awards on US Airways

One of the biggest disadvantages for me of US Airways is that they don't offer one-way awards–only round-trip. And lately I've been mostly booking one-way awards for family and via our Award Booking service, as flexibility is key for many of these awards.


4. No Changes to Partner Award Tickets After Travel Has Begun

Unlike most other award tickets, you're unable to make changes to the return flight, even for a fee, after you've already taken the outbound flight. While most people never think that will be an issue, it's a horrible situation to be in should an expected emergency arise that causes you to have to come back earlier or later than originally planned. See Emergency Award Flight Change? Hope You Didn't Book with US Airways.

5. Not As Easy to Earn Additional Cheap US Airways Miles via Credit Card

There's not a whole lot of incentive for me to buy US Airways miles even with the 100% bonus, when it's so much cheaper to earn United miles with the bonuses and spend from the Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Sapphire Preferred and Freedom. I've already outlined how to create your own 100,000 point bonus with the Ink Bold or Ink Plus, and recently I simply front loaded some Amazon and Sears spend for 15,000 points with about $2500 in spend. Ultimate Rewards points transfer 1:1 to United, but not to US Airways, so it's much easier and cheaper to accrue United miles than US Airways miles with credit card spend. You can churn the US Airways card, but note that Barclay's hates seeing many recent credit card applications, so it's harder to get multiple cards if you've recently applied for a number of cards from other issuers.

6. US Airways does Starnet Blocking, Making it Impossible to Redeeem for Lufthansa First Class

While United no longer blocks Lufthansa First Class availability (though Lufthansa only releases first class award availability about 14 days in advance) US Airways still does. See US Airways Award Chart Confirms: No Lufthansa First Class Awards. And I personally don't want to fly Lufthansa Business Class until the new Business Class with flat bed seats gets implemented–I really dislike angled flat seats and can't get any sleep in them.


7. Can't Book Star Alliance awards online

I really dislike not being able to book Star Alliance partner awards online, the way you can at Yes, US Airways does waive the phone booking fee because it's not possible to book online, but they charge Dividend Miles processing fees that amount to the same thing: $25 for continental US, Alaska and Canada; $35 for Latin America and Caribbean, and $50 for all other destinations. It's a pain to spend so much time on hold, not to mention have a good chance of having to call back to get another agent who is more competent.


All the above notwithstanding, I could imagine someone else finding enough value in the 100% bonus promo because they already have a stash of US Airways miles and just need some topping up in order to book an award. As we mentioned in Is Buying US Airways Miles with a 100% Bonus a Good Idea, there can be value in these types of itineraries:

  • Business Class to North Asia for 90,000 Miles via Europe
  • Business Class to Africa for 110,000 Miles via Europe
  • First Class to Hawaii for 70,000 Miles from the East Coast

Related Posts

More Expensive to Buy US Airways Miles After Price Increase

Emergency Award Flight Change? Hope You Didn't Book with US Airways

US Airways Award Chart Confirms: No Lufthansa First Class Awards

How to Find Star Alliance Award Seats

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