Guide To Maximizing US Airways Miles: Part 1 - Introduction

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The 40,000 mile US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® offer (EXPIRED OFFER) is currently among the top airline credit card offers available. With the US Airways and AA merger going through it’s only a matter of time before this card will no longer be available, but until then it remains a great way to earn US Airways miles.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll publish a series of articles focusing on the US Airways Dividend Miles frequent flyer program covering how the program works and some of the most valuable ways of redeeming miles for award tickets. This post will serve as an introduction to the program and ways to earn US Airways miles.

Guide To Maximizing US Airways Miles Series Index

Part 1    |  Introduction to Maximizing US Airways Miles

Part 2   |  Maximizing US Airways Miles on Asia Awards

Part 3   |  Maximizing US Airways Miles on Europe Awards

Part 4   |  Maximizing US Airways Miles on Central & South America Awards

Part 5   |  Maximizing US Airways Miles on Oceania Awards

Part 6   |  Maximizing US Airways Miles on Africa Awards

US Airways, the long time Star Alliance member, recently became a Oneworld member in early 2014 after the merger with American Airlines was approved. As with any merger, one should expect numerous changes, some good and some bad.

In the miles and points game, these changes have to be understood quickly in order to save the miles one may currently be sitting on or get that award trip before a devaluation.


Get ready for the US Airways and AA merger


Currently US Airways Dividend Miles are one of the hottest commodities to own because of their award chart and routing rules. You are allowed 1 stop-over or 1 open-jaw per round-trip award, but US Airways routing rules are extremely generous about where you can add a stopover.

Some amazing redemptions include a 120k round-trip in business class to South and Central Asia or a 110k round-trip in business class to South Pacific while avoiding any fuel surcharges! (Except when routing through the UK on British Airways flights.)

Quick Recap of the US Merger Changes So Far

Since the merger with American Airlines was announced, US Airways and American Airlines have come out every few months or so with a new update.

Here are some of the updates that have been announced so far:

  1. US Airways miles can be used to book on any Oneworld Alliance partner.
  2. US Airways’ Star Alliance partners were eliminated, except for a few remaining partners.
  3. One devaluation occurred which increased the 90k business class round-trip option to North Asia to 110k.
  4. There hasn’t been a date set in stone as to when the integration of the two frequent flyer programs will be completed (the end of the Dividend Miles program) but it’s speculated to be in mid 2015.

What Happens To The Barclays US Airways World Elite Mastercard?

Barclays issues the co-branded credit card associated with US Airways and they have also made several announcements of upcoming changes. Here is what we know so far:

  1. New applicants for the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will only be accepted until the end of 2014! (Apply soon!)
  2. Once the merger is fully integrated, Barclays will change all existing cards to their new American Airlines branded card.
  3. The following benefits will be no longer be offered when the card becomes an AA card:
    • The $99 companion certificate
    • 5k discount mileage redemption on US Airways metal flights
    • 1 Complimentary one day Club access
    • 10k Elite Qualifying Miles after spending $25,000 in a calendar year
  4. The following benefits will be added when the card becomes an AA card:
    • 10% mileage rebate on redeemed miles
    • 25% off of in-flight purchases
    • $100 flight discount after spending $30,000 in a year

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts with the US Airways program which is why the next few months are crucial for those either planning on traveling using their US Airways miles or simply sitting on a large amount of US Airways miles. That said, it is still an ideal time to earn US Airways miles and redeem them on their incredibly valuable award chart. You’ll be able to book US Airways awards far into 2015, so you don’t have to fly or even use your miles before the merger goes through.


Get 40,000 US Airways miles after the first purchase!

Earning US Airways Miles Quickly

As mentioned earlier, the cheapest and quickest way to earn Dividend Miles are through the US Airways credit card from Barclays.

Link: US Airways Premier World MasterCard

Here are the current benefits of the card:

  • 40,000 Miles After The First Purchase - Confirmed reports have shown even a purchase for $0.99 cents is valid.
  • Earn Rate - 2x miles on US Airways / American Airlines. 1x miles on all other purchases.
  • First Checked Bag for Free - This is valid for the cardholder and up to 4 companions on domestic travel
  • Companion Certificate - Certificate for up to 2 guests on US Airways operated flights for $99 + taxes and fees. (Ends after 2014)
  • Priority Boarding - ‘Zone 2’ boarding on US Airways operated flights.
  • Award Discount for US Airways Flights - Get a 5k miles discount when using your Dividend Miles to fly US Airways operated flights. (Ends after 2014)
  • Elite Qualifying Miles - 10k EQMs after spending $25,000 in a year. (Ends after 2014)
  • Complimentary Club Day Pass - Receive one complimentary day pass for a one time visit at any domestic US Airways or American Airlines operated Club. Expires one year from account opening. (Ends after 2014)
  • Check-in At The First Class Counter - You can check-in your bags at the First Class / US Airways Preferred counter.
  • Annual Fee - $89

By simply opening this card, you can get 40k US Airways miles for a rate of 0.22 cents (40,000/$89) per mile!

Another advantage of this card is that Barclays is the issuer. Most people tend to have a bunch of Chase and American Express credit cards because of the great credit cards they offer. Remember, every bank wants your business without running the risk of giving you “too much” credit therefore getting credit cards from different banks will increase your chances of getting an instant approval.

Other Cards That ‘Earn’ US Airways Miles

The Starwood Preferred Guest by American Express (both personal and business) is a card that has over 30 airline transfer partners! US Airways is one of these partners to whom you can transfer your SPG points at a 1:1 ratio.


Transfer SPG points to US Airways miles at a 1:1 ratio


While there are no bonus categories associated with the SPG, they do offer a 5k points bonus when you transfer 20k SPG points to one of their airline partners, which essentially means you’re earning 1.25 points per dollar on all transactions! You can really maximize your earning potential and generate a significant amount of US Airways miles.

Earn US Airways Through Dining Portals

Did you know there are ways to earn 3x US Airways miles per dollar when you use any card of your choice at a restaurant or bar? This means you can double dip and earn 3x US Airways miles + extra points from the credit card usage. If the card of choice earns 2x or has dining as a bonus category (e.g. Barclaycard Arrival Plus MasterCard or Chase Sapphire Preferred) then this maximizes your earning potential even more!


Earn extra miles through dining portals

All this is possible because of the Dining Rewards Programs that US Airways participates in.

If this is the first time you’re reading about Dining Rewards Programs, then please read this post first. If you are familiar with how these dining programs work, continue reading.

If you spend $30 at a restaurant or bar that participates in the program using your various  registered credit cards, then you can earn:

  • 90 US Airways Dividend Miles from the Dining Portal + one of the following:
    1. Chase Sapphire Preferred - 60 Ultimate Rewards (90 UR points if it’s the first Friday of the month)
    2. Barclaycard Arrival Plus MasterCard - 60 Arrival miles
    3. Amex Starwood Preferred Guest - 37.5 SPG Points (1.25x taking into account the 5k bonus)
    4. US Airways World Elite Mastercard - 30 US Airways miles

Depending on the travel requirement, the choice of card will vary accordingly. Some may find it useful to accrue some flexible points along the way to use for hotels while others might want to simply maximize as many airline miles as possible.

Recall that SPG transfers are not all instantaneous and depending on the airline you are transferring points to it can take up to 1-2 weeks. (Lately, however, they are taking about 1-2 business days.)

US Airways Shopping Portal

Just as Dining Portals allow you to earn extra miles, Shopping Portals also have a similar concept with the only difference being that the various online vendors have different earnings rates that change from time-to-time.


Shopping portals are a great way to earn extra miles

If this is your first time reading about such Shopping Portals, then please read this post for a primer. If you are familiar with how shopping portals work, continue reading.

The rate now is merely 1x on the US Airways, but in the past it has hit 3x miles per dollar. The best way to keep track of the current best shopping portal deals is through Cash Back Monitor.


Buying Visa gift cards through shopping portals

For those flying on Southwest Airlines, if you were to buy a Southwest gift card for $500 on via the US Airways shopping portal, your earning potential would be:

  • 500 US Airways Dividend Miles from the Shopping Portal + the following:
    1. Chase Ink Plus / Bold - 2,500 Ultimate Rewards / Barclaycard Arrival Plus MasterCard - 1,00 Arrival miles
    2. Visa SavingsEdge Statement Credit - 1% of purchase price = $5
    3. Southwest Miles Earned - Depends on the route flown

In this case, it may not be advantageous to use any other credit cards besides the Chase Ink cards because of their high 5x earning potential + 1% back from Visa SavingsEdge. In an extreme example you can use your US Airways credit card as well to earn 500 more US Airways miles for the given example above.

Quick Recap

US Airways is one of the few airlines that have a very competitive premium cabin award chart along with relaxed routing rules. This combination makes US Airways Dividend Miles among the most valuable miles out there.

Earning 40,000 US Airways miles through the US Airways Premier World MasterCard is the best way to quickly earn lots of miles, but you’ll only have a few more months to apply for the card.

With the exception of British Airways flights, they don’t charge fuel surcharge on any partner airlines! As with many near perfect things, even the US Airways Dividend Miles program is sadly coming to an end by sometime in early - mid 2015.

Since there is still some time left, to take advantage of US Airways miles it’s important to learn how to quickly amass miles through the combination of the airline branded credit card and transfer partner flexible bank points credit cards.

To maximize your earnings you can also add shopping and dining portals associated with US Airways into the mix to earn extra miles. These miles add up quicker than you think.

Stay tuned for the next part of this series to find out how to maximize your miles for award tickets to Asia, Europe, South America, Africa, and Oceania!

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Extra tips on how to maximize your rewards

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2 comments on “Guide To Maximizing US Airways Miles: Part 1 - Introduction”

  1. Just want to add to your dataset: My wife opened the US airways premier card on Nov last year, canceled on August 2014, and re-applied and got approved on Sep 2014. I still have this card which was also opened on Nov 2013, and I am wondering whether I can get one without cancelling the existing card by the end of this year.

    1. Hi Jesson Tian

      Yes you're right that churning this card is possible but there haven't been enough data points to suggest one way working over the other... right now its very YMMV

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