Thinking Through US Airways’ Triple PQM Offer

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Last month I got an amazing target offer from US Airways telling me I would earn triple premier qualifying miles (PQM) for all flights on US Airways metal through the end of the year. And then a few days later, they had a broader offer of 50%-100% bonus award miles for flights through November 17.

I’d originally just planned to buy up to US Airways status at the end of the year if I needed to since I was focusing on American Airlines, but this changed my thinking. I only had 13,000 flown miles this year, but I was going to get 10,000 more towards elite status from hitting the $25K in spend on the US Airways Mastercard.

So now I needed to figure out what trips I already had coming up and whether it was worth doing a few more mileage runs to hit Chairman’s or  if it would still be cheaper just to buy the remaining PQMs I needed. The trick with buying up is to fly just enough miles to hit a sweet spot, since you buy in tiers: buying 25,000-49,999 premier qualifying miles is $1499, buying 15,000-24,999 is only $989, etc.

Buying to to Preferred Status on US Airways

The 100% bonus also complicated things – I needed to take into account how much I valued the extra miles vs my time.

The usual rule of thumb for mileage runs is anything under $.04 a mile is a good deal. But when I’m not interested in the destination or a little weary of airports, I need a better deal than that to tempt me.

Definitely a lot of factors to wrap my mind around.

Jeanne had found a deal to Las Vegas from Philadelphia for $150 on some weekdays. That meant I could earn almost 15,000 PQMs with one trip, but would have to get myself up to Philadelphia (and flights there weren’t cheap)and take time off work. Was it possible I could do 5 trips in a row for $750 and hit Chairman’s? That would be pretty awesome, but not likely. My vacation policy isn’t that flexible.

I already had a trip out to San Francisco booked and a few other random trips that would bring me close to 50,000 miles. I could buy the remaining PQMs for $1499. So I needed to figure out how much I was willing to spend to earn them through flying.

I would need to fly 16,750 actual miles. With the 100% bonus through Nov 17, I’d earn 33,500 redeemable miles which I conservatively decided to value around $350, roughly a penny a mile, since I already had a bunch of US Airways miles. Purchasing the miles through a US Airways promo would come in at over $600, so for someone trying to build their balance, it would be worth a lot more.

This gave me a rough ceiling of $1849 to shoot for. If I could find trips what would earn the 50,000 PQMs for less than that it was worth flying to hit status. Otherwise, better to buy. And of course there was still an ongoing calculus since I would pay less for buying fewer miles but this at least gave me a starting point for researching fares.


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.

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