US Air Grand Slam
Last year, I earned 117,166 US Air Dividend Miles from the US Air Grand Slam at an incremental cost of $636 or 0.54 cents per mile. This is one of the lowest rates at which I’ve earned miles.
But it was also very time consuming and I needed to record, track, and meticulously follow up to ensure that everything was in order.
If you are not familiar with the US Air Grand Slam promotion, you earn “hits” for every activity you complete from the list, and multiples of 4 “hits” earn you bonus miles. The bonus miles keep on increasing as you progress towards 40 hits (out of a total of 72) for a total of 110,000 bonus miles.
Activities include buying flowers, renting cards, shopping on Amazon.com and more.
The promotion runs from September 14 up to November 14, 2011
My US Air Grand Slam Goal
I plan on earning 36 hits for a bonus of 100,00 miles in the US Air Grand Slam. You can buy US Air miles regularly for 1.5 cents per mile, so you shouldn’t be willing to pay more than 1.5 cents, on average, for all the miles you acquire through this promotion.
In fact, you should pay less than 1.5 cents per mile, because of all the trouble and time spent (your opportunity cost or cost of not doing something else in the time spent to complete 36 hits or partner activities).
My target is a maximum 1 cent per mile for 100,00 miles or $1,000 spread over 36 hits. This works out to ~$28 per hit (100,000 bonus miles/36 hits) ignoring the bonus miles earned from the qualifying activities themselves.
So on average, I should not spend more than $28 to earn a hit. So, some hits will cost me less than $28 and some hits will cost me more than $28.
40 Hits Not Worth It For Most Folks
But why stop at 36 hits and not go for all 40 hits?
That’s because only US Air elite members qualify for the 40th hit. And it just doesn’t seem worth it to to buy US Air elite status just for the 40th hit.
1. US Air Preferred (elite) status. You get US Air Preferred status by:
- Flying a lot
- Buying elite status – minimum cost is $989
- Buying elite status for a 90 day trial period – minimum cost is $200
2. 10,000 bonus mile difference. You only get 10,000 extra bonus miles for completing 40 hits versus 36 hits, and spending $200 (the cheapest way to get US Air elite status) for an extra 10,000 miles is clearly not worth it when you can buy those 10,000 miles for $150 during a US Air mile sale!
Going from 28 hits to 32 hits, and from 32 hits to 36 hits yields an incremental 20,000 miles.
But going from 36 hits to 40 hits yields an incremental 10,000 miles (5,000 of which are elite qualifying, but that likely won’t matter to most).
There just isn’t much incentive for most folks to reach 40 hits in the US Air Grand Slam (unless you’d get there with low cost anyway).
Play US Air Grand Slam Like A Pro
Step 1 – Getting Ready FOr The US Air Grand SLam
A. Set Your US Air Grand Slam Goal
Everyone is blogging and writing about the 2011 US Air Grand Slam. But don’t let the pressure get to you. Do what’s right for you and your family given your situation and needs.
There’s nothing wrong in stopping once the cheap hits dry up in the US Air Grand Slam!
Yes, there will be folks earning more miles than you. You’ll probably beat them in something else. It all evens out.
Set a goal based on:
- The total you’re willing to spend on the promotion, say, $300 or
- The total cost per mile (cpm) you’re willing to spend, say 0.9 cents per mile
- How are you going to use the miles? If you use them for domestic travel, 1 cent per mile may be too high a price to pay. Do the math BEFORE you play.
It is going to be hard to rack up the hits if you don’t have much travel scheduled and don’t have a stash of hotel points to transfer to US Air.
For example, you can get 18 easy hits (that’s 50% of the 36 hits needed for the 100,000 bonus miles!) if you are a frequent traveler – 6 via car rentals, 6 via staying in hotels, and another 6 by transferring hotel points to US Air.
B. How To Track US Air Grand Slam Hits
This is a time consuming process and you need a good tool to keep track of your hits.
Fortunately FlyerTalk member silverhalide, has done an absolutely brilliant job of creating an awesome spreadsheet to keep track of your hits. I used it last year and it was invaluable in staying organized.
You can download it from post #1 in this thread. If you do you use it, please say thanks to silverhalide in the FlyerTalk thread or in the comments! The spreadsheet is going to earn you a lot of miles in the US Air Grand Slam!
How to use the spreadsheet:
Enter data in these cells:
- Date – Enter when you made the partner activity in the “date” column
- Miles – Enter the miles you expect to earn in the “miles” column
- Cost – Enter the cost for the hit in the “cost” column. I enter the incremental cost of the activity. For example, suppose I was going to send flowers to a colleague and I could buy them at the local florist for $20. But the cheapest price for flowers on FTD.com is $50. So I spent an extra $30 (my incremental cost) just to get a hit in the US Air Grand Slam. I record this cost in the spreadsheet.
- Posted Hits – Enter the number “1” in these cells once the partner activity posts in your US Air account.
Earned Hits – This column will automatically populate once you enter data in the “Date, Miles, & Cost” column.
The spreadsheet will even automatically calculate your cost per mile!
C. Register For US Air Grand Slam
Not so fast! You’ve got to register BEFORE you play. This is VERY important. Otherwise you’ll end up with stuff you didn’t really want, but no bonus miles!
Register for the 2011 US Air Grand Slam.
Step 2 – Earning US Air Grand SLam HIts
A. Cheap Hits
Here’s a list of cheap hits and the cost to get them. This list WILL change over the 2 months of this promotion, so be sure to double check before using it.
Be sure to enter your Dividend Miles account information when completing a transaction. Otherwise there will be no record of your participation!
- Cost = Cost for that particular hit
- Total Cost = The running total for all hits
- Bonus miles = US Grand Slam bonus miles which are earned for every fourth hit
#1 – US Air toolbar. Cost = $0. Total Cost = $0
- Download the US Air Toolbar and do 4 searches
- Don’t forget to log into the toolbar with your Dividend Miles account number
- Here’s how to uninstall that pesky toolbar
#2 – Points.com. Cost = $0. Total Cost = $0
- 4 American Airlines miles to 1 US Air mile (AA account needs to have at least 25,000 miles, but you can transfer only 1 mile)
- 3 Best Buy points to 1 US Air mile
- 1001 Frontier Air miles to 184 US Air miles
- 4 Cathay Pacific Asia miles to 1 US Air mile (you can start with 10 US Air miles for 4 Asia miles and then transfer back to US Air for the hit)
#3 – e-miles. Cost = $0. Total Cost = $0.
- Sign up for e-miles and take enough surveys or offers (be prepared for an hour or so of clicking) to earn 500 miles. Once you earn 500 miles you can transfer them to US Air and it will count as a Grand Slam “hit.”
- Make sure to select “US Air” as the sponsor when signing up.
- You should get 275 miles as a sign up bonus (100 miles for completing the enrollment, 100 miles for submitting your verification number from the welcome email, and 75 miles for completing your profile).
- Since you get 275 miles as a sign up bonus, you have to earn only 225 more miles to reach 500 miles and transfer them to US Air for a “hit.” This will take a bit of time, but may be worth it for the cheap miles!
- Tip: If you don’t like taking the surveys, you may just want to buy something or make a donation to get to 500 points.
#4. e-rewards. Cost = $0. Total Cost = $0. Bonus Miles = 3,000
- This is an invitation only site, so ensure that you’ve allowed US Air to send you promotional emails. Log into the US Air website–> Select “Dividend Miles” in top menu —-> Select “My Account” —-> Click on “Email Subscriptions” under “Toolbox.” —> Select all options and hit “Save Changes”
- If you’ve already done that, search your email for an invitation from “e-rewards.” I received an invitation in 2010 and the subject line of the email read “By Invitation Only.”Sign up by following the instructions in the email.
- You have to earn $25 in e-rewards currency to redeem for 500 US Air miles or 1 “hit.”
- This is a HUGE pain. Start answering surveys from NOW so that you earn $25
#5. Magazines for Miles. Cost = $0. Total Cost = $0.
- This is the only hit which requires you to spend miles (instead of spending cash and earning miles)
- Redeem US Air Miles for magazines or newspapers. I renewed my subscription to The Economist for 3,200 miles
- Note that the email address you enter has to match the address which US Air has for you
#6. Use a US Air Credit or Debit Card. Cost = $0. Total Cost = $0.
- You can get up to 5 hits by using a different US Air Credit or Debit card as long as the miles post to your statement and US Air account before November 14, 2011
- I used my US Air MasterCard for a quick hit. If you haven’t got this card, you should apply for it sooner rather than later, because you have to wait for the statement to close and the miles to transfer to your US Air account.
- The US Air MasterCard has a 40,000 mile sign-on bonus after your first purchase, with NO annual fee for the first year or minimum purchase requirement.
- More information on the different debit and credit card options can be found below in the section on “Earning Hits From US Air Debit & Credit Cards”
#7. Convert Hotel Points. Cost = $0. Total Cost = $0.
- Earn up to 9 hits (1 per hotel) by transferring hotel points to US Air. You have to transfer enough points to earn 850 miles.
- I transferred Wyndham and Choice hotel points to US Air. I value my Hilton, Starwood, Priority Club, and Hyatt points too much to part with them easily!
- Yes, I realize that the cost of transferring hotel points is not really $0, especially if you buy hotel points just to transfer to US Air.
- More information on the different hotel point transfer options can be found below in the section on ” Earning Hits by Transferring Hotel Points”
More to come
I will update this list of hits daily, as I play. And still to come – an explanation of the hotels, car rental, other ways to earn hits in the US Air Grand Slam.
B. Earning Hits From US Air Debit & Credit Cards
You can earn 1 hit for every transaction you make (limit of 1 per card) with a different US Air debit or credit card.
The different cards available are:
- US Airways MasterCard: 40,000 miles sign on bonus after the first transaction. $89 fee annual fee waived for the first year.
- US Airways Business MasterCard: 25,000 miles sign on bonus. $79 annual fee.
- US Airways Visa: 3 different versions with a 5,000 mile, 10,000 mile, and 25,000 mile sign up bonus. $50 to$90 annual fee. Note that these cards are not available for new users.
- US Airways Visa Business Card: I couldn’t find a link, so please let me know if you do!
- US Airways Debit Card: 3,000 miles after first purchase. $30 annual fee not waived. You need a bank account with Bank of America for this.
The best card to apply for is the US Airways MasterCard with a 40,000 mile sign on bonus issued by Barclays.
C. Earning Hits By Transferring Hotel Points
You earn 1 hit by transferring hotel points from each of the 9 hotels to US Air Dividend Miles.
However, you have to transfer enough miles to earn a minimum of 850 miles.
You can also buy points in certain hotel programs and then transfer them to US Air. The cheapest way to do this is to use the Priority Club “Cash and Points” trick to buy 10,000 points for $60 and then transfer those points to US Air.
It may be worth it to buy hotel points to transfer to US Air if you are just 1 or 2 hist away from a bonus threshold. For example, if you need another 1 hit to get a 20,000 mile bonus, it may be worth it to pay $60 to buy hotel points and then transfer them to US Air.
You could also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Priority Club, Marriott, and Hyatt and then transfer those hotel points to US Air.
- Best Western: Transfer 5,000 points to 1,000 Dividend Miles. But only elite members can buy points in increments of 1,000 points ($50 for 5,000 points). However, it is very easy to status match. I just status matched my Hyatt Diamond (earned at StarMegaDO3) to Best Western’s Diamond status.
- Hilton: Transfer 10,000 Hilton points to 850 Dividend Miles. You can purchase 10,000 Hilton points for 1 cent each or $100. You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points and American Airlines miles to Hilton (and then to US Air)
- Hyatt: Transfer 5,000 Hyatt points to 850 Dividend Miles. Buy 5,000 Hyatt Points for $120. You will get a 20% bonus for Hyatt point purchases made before September 30, 2011. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt.
- Priority Club: Transfer 10,000 Priority Club points to 2,000 Dividend Miles. Buy 10,000 Priority Club points for $60 using the cash and points trick or transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Priority Club.
- Marriott: Transfer 10,000 Marriott points to 2,000 Dividend Miles. You can either buy 10,000 Marriott points for $125 or transfer Chase Ultimate Reward points to Marriott
- Raddison (Club Carlson): Transfer 8,000 points to 1,000 Dividend Miles. There is no option to purchase points.
- Starwood (SPG): The transfer amount varies by membership level. Platinum elite members can transfer a minimum of 1 point so need to transfer 850 SPG points for 850 US Air miles. Gold elite members can transfer a minimum of 1,500 points and all other members have to transfer a minimum of 2,500 points.
- Wyndham: Transfer 8,000 Wyndham points to 3,200 Dividend Miles. There is no option to purchase points.
D. Terrific US Air Grand Slam Resources
Can’t get enough of Grand Slam 2011? Read these other terrific posts by:
- Free Frequent Flyer Miles
- Mommy Points
- View From The Wing
- Frugal Travel Guy
- The Hustle Blog
- The Traveler’s Loophole
- Deal’s We Like
In the meantime, how has the US Air Grand Slam gone for you?