How to buy American miles for 1.55 cents each before the million miler program changes

As I’ve blogged about before, American will be changing their million miler program on December 1, 2011, and no longer count all miles earned towards million miler status. Lots of people are in a rush to try and lock in either lifetime Gold (one million miler) or lifetime Platinum (two million miler) status, so here’s a deal that isn’t half bad for helping accomplish that.

Through the end of September, the AAdvantage eShopping Mall is offering ten bonus miles per dollar spent on Sears gift card purchases. That means if you purchase Sears gift cards you would earn 11 American miles per dollar (ten bonus miles per dollar, plus the one mile per dollar spent on your AAdvantage Citi credit card). As far as I can tell there’s no restriction against buying Sears gift cards, and no limit to the number of miles that can be earned.

Then after you’ve bought the gift card, you can sell it at Plastic Jungle for 83 cents on the dollar.

As an example, if you purchase $91,000 worth of Sears gift cards through the AAdvantage eShopping Mall you would earn over a million miles (assuming 11 miles per dollar). Then you can resell the gift cards at Plastic Jungle for around $75,000, making the cost around $16,000.

That would earn you a million miles and lifetime Gold status. Gold status or not, under 1.6 cents per mile is actually a really good deal. A Cathay Pacific first class award redemption costs 135,000 miles, so you’re basically paying just under $2,200 for that ticket.

Now, there’s one massive thing to keep in mind. I assume the percent off face value that Plastic Jungle will buy gift cards at is a function of supply and demand. Something tells me they don’t have a use for a billion dollars worth of Sears gift cards. Hell, they might not even have a use for $90,000 worth of Sears gift cards. So if you’re interested in this, proceed fast, proceed with caution, and ideally proceed with moderation. I’d hate to see one of you stuck with $90,000 worth of Sears gift cards.

(Tip of the hat to FrequentMiler)

Comments

  1. Well, sears & kmart are the same company, so, of course, they can be used at each other. Land’s End, Craftsman, etc… Are all the same.

    In fact, just hit sears.com or kmart.com or la dawns.com or any of their branded sites and you’ll see the whole panoply of GCs that are interchangeable.

  2. @ tim — That’s not my understanding. The three miles per dollar link brings you to giftcertificates.com, which is a different retailer. If you buy them directly through Sears you should earn ten miles per dollar.

  3. @tim – check that again. 3m/$ for gcs are for gcs bought at giftcards.com. this is pretty tight.

    to y’all better off just selling the cards on ebay. they trade way richer than 83 cents on the $. my guess is plastic jungle buys at 83 and sells on ebay at 95-97 which means after fees they are making 6-7% of face. nice trade. i will buy your gift cards at 83 cents šŸ™‚

  4. @Phil – that was exactly what I was about to ask/say…i.e., forget about plastic jungle. Why not try to sell the gift cards on ebay for >$0.83/one dollar?

  5. Don’t forget e-Bay and paypal fees. Plus, uncle Sam may want a cut too since Paypal will report your proceeds.

  6. Go read about the guy on FW who killed the Cap1->Hyatt GC deal. He was buying at 1 cpp, and planning to sell on Cardmall. Apparently, he didn’t factor in the lack of liquidity for the Hyatt GC market…..

  7. I believe Ebay will charge approx. 10% fee.

    Lucky’s way seem to be good to get $ back quickly.

    Quick question. Can I buy Sears e-gift card and sell it @ plastic jungle?

    Thanks!

  8. abcx — I think the HD cards were favored cause the self-checkers would spit back cash. Dealing with clerks seems like a real PITA. But the thought did cross my mind!

  9. Although a little more expensive, would it be worthwile to buy miles through Alaska Air and transfer them to AA? With an investment of $50,000 you could get lifetime platinum status and loads of miles to be spent?

  10. lucky, have you done this before and received 10 miles for buying sears gift card? If so did you buy physical or e-gift card?

  11. @hobo13 – there is no doubt the deal is not without it’s risks, but i would not compare the liquidity of sears gift cards – a huge national retailer with a presence in every region – in the run up to christmas no less, to the liquidity of one of the smallest hotel chains. i would not want to unload $90k of these things but a few thousand should not take long to unload at a better price than the 83 cents offered at plastic jungle

  12. Did I just mess up. I saw the 10 miles per dollar and bought $5,000. Now I can’t find anything nut 3 miles. Please help?

  13. It looks like the offer is now 2 miles. I see a banner for 10 miles, but that has a 9/22 expiration date. Was thinking about this — but it has red flag all over it.

  14. It’s up now on 9/23 as a featured merchant, it’s required that there is an add to cart button which there is. And gift cards aren’t banned. Seems still valid.

  15. word on the street is plastic jungle has stopped accepting sears gift cards
    Now what do with 100k of sears gift cards lol
    thats enough for a nice pair of shoes šŸ™‚

  16. Please clarify if you can: The AA website’s Million Miler FAQ says “all Program to Date miles earned through November 30, 2011, will count toward Million Miler status,” which sounds like they don’t actually have to post by that date.

    However, it seems most people are concerned that the miles must actually show up in their account by 11/30, regardless of transaction date. This could exclude, for example, AAdvantage Shopping Mall transactions from right now, since those miles are notoriously slow to post. That sounds too lame to be right, but maybe I’m giving these guys too much credit.

  17. Thanks to Ben’s timely blog for this 10 miles/$ deal.

    Even got a call from Sears for WHY to purchase so many gift cards this morning (only $2500) + asked lots of personal questions — SSN, previous home add, …

  18. Lol. UAL had a promo of using 3 partners and earn 1k bonus miles. Starting the date of the promo I would go to it’s shopping site and buy 6 $10 gift cards every day. Thus earning the base miles in my credit card, shopping site miles and the 2k bonus miles. I did this every day until I got an e-mail from UAL that they changed the rules and capped the promo to 25k. But, they would honor all miles up to 9-9 the change date. So I earned 52k in bouns miles plus the credit card miles plus the shopping site bouns miles. However, I found 14 merchants that I could and do use so I have 152 $10 gift cards. But I would get calls from all of them asking what inwas doing. I told them and they laughed.

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