Successful redemption of US Airways’ Companion Certificate

TL;DR. The US Airways Premier World MasterCard gives you 30k miles after your first purchase and a companion certificate that lets two people travel with you for $99 (provided you buy a $250 roundtrip). I expected to spend hours on the phone and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the process was.

The US Airways & American merger isn’t looking like it’s going to be finalized anytime soon, but when it was announced, there were a number of credit card strategies to optimize earning for the possibility of a combined frequent flyer program. Looking to capitalize on the point earning opportunity, I applied for the US Airways Premier World MasterCard, which gave me a 40k mile bonus after the first purchase (current offer is only 30k). The card comes with an $89 fee, 5k mile discount on US Airways award bookings, and a companion certificate that lets two people travel with for just $99, when you book a roundtrip ticket of $250 or more.

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My certificate had been collecting dust at my desk for some time, when I realized that I couldn’t bear to see something I  “earned” go to waste. At the risk of giving myself airport fatigue, I decided to squeeze in one more weekend into an already impacted January & February.

From SF/LA, US Airways only has three direct flights: Phoenix, Charlotte, and Philadelphia. For a short 2-days, Phoenix made the most sense and a quick search on ITA revealed the price of tickets to be $288. I settled on a date, recruited two girlfriends, and will be heading back to Sedona in January.

Everything you need to know is spelled out on the certificate. It was one of the most painless redemption and call center experiences I’ve ever had and the agents (all three that I spoke to) knew the protocol. This is what I learned along the way:

  • The $250 threshold is for tickets before taxes. Technically, my $288 flight to Phoenix was only $247 before taxes and wouldn’t have qualified. The first agent bumped up my fare class to $311 for the certs to be valid. I just thanked her politely, called back, and found an agent who would ticket my flight at $288.
  • Phone booking fees do not apply, since you have no choice but to call in to book the flights
  • You do need to book with a US Airways Mastercard. However, it doesn’t have to be yours. I didn’t have my card on me, so I tried to use my Chase Ink Bold and the system rejected it. In the end, I used my certificate with my cousin’s card–the agent wasn’t sure it would work, but humored me regardless.
  • I booked my tickets on a Friday and asked the agent if I could mail the certificate in on Monday. She said, “that would be fine,” in a way that suggested that it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t send it in at all. Better not to risk it.

In the end, we spent $528 on three roundtrip flights to Phoenix, which is a $336 savings. I’ll keep you posted on how Sedona round 2 goes!

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