An update: there have been quite a few devaluations in airline mileage programs since I wrote that post. With all the uncertainty of a new award chart after the merger, I probably would not pay more than 1 cent per mile as of November 2013.
How do I know that for a fact? Well, I just paid around 1.13 cent for it. And not just any mile, but a US Dividend mile, which is almost as bad as skypeso, I mean skymile from Delta program. Almost. Delta is truly the worst. I am talking about a 100 percent bonus on USDM shared miles CLICK for more on this deal, which ends October 15th. If you are thinking about it, make up your mind already!
I transferred 50000 miles from my husband’s account into mine at a cost of 567 dollars. In the process I got 50000 miles bonus. Everyone in the hobby went gaga (not to be confused with Lady Gaga) for this deal, because of the ability to redeem for premium seats at a very attractive price . Things were not quite so simple for me, because we fly in the back with the regular folks.
But I still think I made the right decision. First, I am really betting on the fact, that the merger with American Airlines will go through after all. If it does, the mileage programs would merge and USDM miles will become AA miles eventually. AAdvantage is what I love most of all, other than Rapid Rewards.
But since Southwest does not fly to Europe, that is where AA mile steps in and fills the gap. It is a very good deal to bring my parents here at only 40000 miles roundtrip in the off-season and actually only 36000 with CITI American Airlines visa rebate. That card is my top bonus deal currently and pays me no commission.
So that is what I hope ultimately happens. US airways program is not great for US to Europe flights. It costs 60000 miles in economy and usually over 200 dollars in taxes, unless you are an elite. The business redemption is a far better deal at 100000 miles, but I don’t hoard miles, so am very stingy with them. Even if the merger does not go through and it might not, I still think I made the right call. Why?
If US Airways stays part of a Star Alliance, we can redeem on United flights. Even though you can’t see availability on US website, as long as United shows it, you should be good to go. You would have to call in, which is not ideal. But I found US Airways agents competent, in spite of their reputation to the contrary. United is known for their excellent award availability, so with flexibility hopefully we will find something even for 4 people.
At 25000 miles roundtrip (USDM does not permit one way redemptions) it would cost me 283 dollars plus tax per person within continental USA and Canada. And I’m going all the way to Alaska, you better believe it! Hawaii costs 40000 miles roundtrip, so it would be around 452 dollars plus tax. Still a fairly good deal from Florida, since our fares run over 700 dollars or more. There is of course a huge possibility of devaluation and that is why I pondered on this deal for a whole week.
But ultimately I am pretty confident, that I will at least break even with this purchase. What made me pull the trigger was a very real possibility, that this promo will never come around again if merger is a go. With the level of consolidation in the airline industry, major players will have no incentive to offer their miles cheap again.
Still, I would not pay more than that and would not use mileage card for non-bonus spending. I have shown several times in my posts, that you can do far better with a combination of cash back cards, if you are a regular middle class family. Aside from rare exceptions, like Avios short haul awards, for economy flights it simply makes no sense in my opinion. You can CLICK HERE to a post on best everyday cards for non-bonus spending.
That post links to another post and another post. It’s like a Russian nesting doll. Very fitting, no? After agonizing for some time, I did add US Bank Club Carlson card to the list as an honorable mention. It is such a strange creature, which is why I named it “The Lonesome George”. But going back to my theme, I do have to admit, that I was off on my valuation of miles. But as you can see, not by much.
Picture credit goes to stuffpoint.com
Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.