With Mile Discount, US Air Awards Are Cheap

Since the summer of 2009, US Airways has been toying with various versions of discounted miles-for-sale offers, beginning with a simple 100 percent bonus on purchased miles, and most recently coupling the full bonus to the use of US Airways' shopping toolbar.

The original promotion, simple and generous, is still the best. And through the end of the month, it's back.

Offer Details

Through June 30, Dividend Miles members will earn a 100 percent bonus on up to 50,000 miles purchased for their own accounts.

Miles normally sell for 2.75 cents each, plus a 7.5 percent "tax recovery charge." The bonus effectively halves that, to about 1.4 cents per mile.

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If you're not already a Dividend Miles member, note the following: "Dividend Miles accounts less than 12 days old are not permitted to Buy, Share or Gift miles."

Deal or No Deal

With the bonus, 100,000 US Airways miles will cost $1,375, not including fees and taxes. That's enough miles for a business-class award ticket to Europe on US Airways or on one of US Airways' Star Alliance partners.

A quick check online showed prices for Los Angeles-Frankfurt business-class tickets priced from $3,483 (one-stop on US Airways) to as much as $11,640 (nonstop on Lufthansa). So buying the miles and redeeming them for an award ticket would represent a savings of at least 60 percent, and as much as 88 percent, from the tickets' market price—assuming, of course, the award seats are available for booking.

In fact, the lowest coach price for the sampled flights was $1,371 (one-stop on US Airways). So if you purchased and used the discounted miles, you'd be paying for coach but traveling in business class.

Needless to say, comparing the cost of miles to the price of a paid ticket fails to incorporate the hassle factor of booking award seats in the equation. Still, for many the potential savings are well worth the difficulty of using the miles.

Reader Reality Check

Have you taken advantage of US Airways' previous miles-for-sale promotions? How many miles did you buy, and what did you redeem them for?

Will you purchase miles this time?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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