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WebFlyer Home > News & Advice > Ask Randy

Ask Randy

Dear Abby and Dr. Ruth can solve some of your problems, but they say all miles lead to Randy Petersen. Got a problem? Let him try and solve it, but please remember, lots of people have problems and just like at the deli counter, you might have to take a number. Have a question? Here's your chance to Ask Randy.

Here's what you asked and here's what the guru said:

Dear Randy,

Is there any way to swap US Airways miles for United miles? I have lots of cards and am elite but not with these two.

- Barry Davidsen

Randy replies:

Your question comes at an appropriate time because other frequent flyers will likely be asking the same question as the countdown for US Airways to part ways with United has begun. My guess is that you are simply trying to get the miles from the two programs into one for a usable award level. So, I have bad news/not so bad news for you.

I’m always sorry when the word “good” isn’t part of an answer so will try to break the new to you as gently as possible. There are ways to swap US Airways miles for United miles but in today’s lexicon it’s a “hot mess”.

Typically, a frequent flyer could use a legal third party such as points.com to exchange or trade miles from one frequent flyer program to another. Points.com has relations with many programs that allows members to both exchange miles between participating partners or trade among members. The bad news for you is that although US Airways is a partner of points.com, the airline does not allow exchanges or trades of their miles within points.com.

Now, one might think there is a ray of hope because US Airways miles will soon become American Airlines miles and American does allow exchanges and trades of their miles within the points.com portal. But I don’t think that the US Airways policy will alter to the friendlier policy of American. And although there might be that glimmer of hope, it’s still a dark day in Milesville because United, while a partner just as US Airways and American with points.com, does not allow exchanges or trades of their miles.

http://www.Points.com is considered a middleman in these types of potential transactions. In years gone by there have been other middlemen but those avenues have dried up, such as converting miles and exchanges through Amtrak Guest Rewards, through Hilton HHonors and even through Diners Club Club Rewards. Alas, there’s just points.com left, and as explained, that option is not available.

But surely where there’s a will there’s a way? Actually, there is another way. It’s a very gray area because of frequent flyer program rules that prohibit such actions as “bartering”, but nonetheless it remains an active method to achieve what you are seeking here; though it does have costs and consequences.

As noted, its frowned upon by programs - as in ALL programs—and can lead to account suspension. The basics are that you ask around your circle of fellow flyers to see if anyone might be interested in trading some miles. If lucky enough to find someone who maybe needs more US Airways miles or American miles (remember, US Airways miles will be pulling on a new identity shortly), then maybe you can “give” miles to that fellow flyer who may have some equal or close to equal United miles they are willing to give you. But there’s a cost to this because members must pay a fee for transferring miles within a program. Again, this is a somewhat covert way to accomplish your goals.

Now, there’s always the other way to look at this glass half full. Forget about trying to exchange and trade miles. Simply concentrate on building toward award levels in each program, becoming a student of advice from bloggers and other fellow flyers as to how to economically and astutely grow your miles to the level you need. And remember this … even if any of the “middlemen” noted above were available to use for your mileage conversion, you’d still be suffering a deflation in the actual miles you started with. Like a foreign currency exchange, you lose a little in the middle.

Keep watching . . . questions updated monthly!


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