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Booking the US Airways $99 Companion Certificate

cheap flights to San Francisco

Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons


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?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I have this card and recently received my companion certificate but really had no idea how to go about using it. Thanks for the breakdown. Hoping I get a chance to use it before it expires.

    • I imagine you can find cheap flights out of NYC so it might not be as useful. It’s expensive to fly from where we live or we have to drive a long way to another airport, so it made sense for us.

  2. Great breakdown of how you used the certficate. This seems like a great deal, thanks.

  3. I am so impressed with you Kim!!! You have really been rocking the credit card churning pretty hard and getting amazing results for your whole family! Great job!!

    • I’m probably a bit OCD. I used to devote all this energy to paying off my credit cards, and this is my new outlet. I’m sure I’ll burn out at some point.

  4. Wow! Even with all the hoops and blackout dates, that is still an amazing deal! These past couple of months your credit card churning has been incredible! How is the bucket list of trips coming?

    • The big trip next summer is almost booked. I have three nights in Boston and three in Amsterdam that I’m working on and then I’ll have lots of posts. It’s lots of work, but it’s fun.

  5. Nice work Kim! We got mine in the mail a month or two ago and are planning on using it here soon. I actually got something in the mail from them last week that said if we spent something like $500/mo for the rest of the year then they’ll give us quite a few more points. I like earning points for something I’d already be doing anyway. 🙂

  6. Awesome! I need to get more into churning credit cards. We plan on starting back up this month so that we can hopefully start earning more trips.

    We are not planners when it comes to trips. I usually plan at the last second and do a crazy amount of planning then.

    • I am a little jealous that you have that luxury. I have to plan around two jobs and a school calendar. Location independent work certainly makes travel easier.

  7. Hmm this is tempting for sure. I just finished churning (and using up) my Barclaycard so this might be a good one to get now. I really hate this: “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.” I feel like there’s pretty much zero reason everything can’t be done in an online form or at the very worst, an online chat.

  8. I have been looking into the card, but I was unaware if the regional partner that US Airways uses out of our town’s airport would be acceptable for companion certificate travel. By the wording “US Airways marketed and operated flight”, I thought it may not. Your article however, makes me wonder. I’m not familiar with the airport in Durango–do you know if the flights out use a regional partner (the flight listed on US Airways’ website tells me that mine are “operated by Piedmont…”)?

    • I believe it would work because our flight out of Durango is operated by Mesa Airlines. When I searched for the flight, it was listed under US Airways but under that it said the Durango portion was by Mesa Airlines. You just can’t pick an American flight. You might call to be sure, but if there isn’t an actual US Airways plane, I think they count the regional carrier as their metal. At least that’s how it was for us.

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