Since we never carry a balance on credit cards anymore, Jim and I have been taking advantage of credit card sign up bonuses for the past couple of years. We’ve had a great trips to the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, Yellowstone, and are planning a blow out trip to the East coast and Europe next year. A large portion of these trips have been funded with points and miles we get for paying expenses with credit cards. With our rental properties and various business expenses, it’s pretty easy for us to hit minimum spending requirements to get huge bonuses.
However, I know many readers don’t spend that much per month, which is great, unless you’d like to take advantage of all the bonus points floating around out there. Enter the US Airways credit card. With this card, the sign up bonus kicks in after your first purchase plus the $89 annual fee. So for under $100, you can get all the points that I talked about in this post. Another benefit of this card is a companion certificate for two extra people with a paid ticket. I’ve had various companion certificates over the years from one promotion or another, but have rarely been able to take advantage because of my work schedule or the complex steps you have to take to redeem one. I don’t really assume much value when I hear the word “companion certificate,” but this is one we have actually been able to use, and it was easy!
How Did You Get A Companion Certificate?
We signed Jim up for this card in August, and I filled up the car with gas. Like magic, we received 40,000 US Airways Dividend Miles. We also got a packet in the mail with some other card benefits, like airport lounge day passes and free checked bags. In the packet was the companion certificate and the directions about how to use it.
What Are the Rules?
- You can use the companion certificate on any US Airways flight in the contiguous 48 states or from one of those states to Canada, but it has to be on US Air, not American or other partners.
- You have to purchase one ticket that costs $250 or more before taxes.
- You must book tickets at least 14 days in advance, and you have to put the fee on the US Airways Mastercard.
- There are a number of blackout dates, especially around the holidays and spring break. You can see the full list of blackout days here.
- You have to call to book the ticket, but it’s helpful to look the flight up online so you can give the numbers to the agent.
- You’ll need the physical certificate because you have to read the certificate number to the agent before booking.
- Tickets are non-refundable, so make sure you know you will be able to travel the dates you choose.
- You get one year to use the certificate. Ours had to be booked by May 2015 and travel completed before August 2015.
How Did We Use Our Certificates?
We have wanted to go to San Francisco for a long time, but it’s not an easy road trip, and we haven’t had time to fit it into our summer travel plans. We decided to go for spring break next year. If we fly out of Durango, we should have plenty of time to have great vacation.
It is usually expensive to fly out of a regional airport, especially during spring break, but we were able to find flights on non-blackout dates for around $450. If we had to buy three tickets, that would easily be over $1300, which was not happening. I called up the 1-800 number on the certificate, got through the prompts to speak with an agent, and she knew exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned the companion certificates. The whole process took about 10 minutes. Then you have 24 hours to mail the physical certificate to US Airways. Since it was a weekend, she said mailing it on Monday would be fine.
We bought one flight at full price and got two tickets for $99 plus taxes. Our total came to $708 for the three of us. $236 per ticket out of Durango is an amazing deal. It’s not free, and that’s still expensive, but it allows us to take a trip we’ve wanted to take at a cost we are willing to afford.
Who Could Benefit From Companion Certificates?
If you live in an area that doesn’t have a major airport or if you’re hoping to fly to a lesser known destination (like Durango, CO!), and you have two or more tickets to buy, the companion certificate that comes with the US Airways credit card would be a nice deal. If we hadn’t used it for spring break, we would have probably tried to book around the holiday blackout dates when tickets from our area can be $500-$600 or more.
It also allows us to stockpile our points with US Air because their program is merging with American Airlines early next year. We like American better than US Air, but it worked out great to use them for this trip.
This card will be going away by the end of the year, along with the companion certificate. If you are thinking about getting some easy reward points and a companion certificate without spending much money, the US Airways Mastercard is probably the easiest way to reach that goal.
Do you have any plans for spring break? Are you a planner or do you wait until the last minute to book trips?
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