American is offering a tiered bonus on the purchase of AAdvantage miles through November 12, 2014.
Earn up to 35% bonus American miles
In order to qualify for the bonus you have to purchase at least 12,000 miles.
The bonus tiers are as follows:
- Purchase 12,000-29,000 miles and earn 3,000 bonus miles
- Purchase 30,000-49,000 miles and earn 8,000 bonus miles
- Purchase 50,000-79,000 miles and earn 15,000 bonus miles
- Purchase 80,000 miles and earn 28,000 bonus miles
80,000 AAdvantage miles is the most number of miles you can purchase during the promotion (and during a calendar year, for that matter), so if you max out the promotion you’d receive a 35% bonus. That means you’d purchase a total of 108,000 AAdvantage miles for $2,400, which is a cost of ~2.22 cents per mile.
Interestingly this time around American doesn’t actually show you the all-in price until after you enter your credit card information, on the final confirmation page. In the past you’d just have to log into your account and go to the purchase page to see the all-in pricing. So that does make the fees associated with this less transparent for the average consumer.
Should you buy American miles?
This promotion is pretty much in line with what we’ve seen from American in the past. To put this in the context of previous promotions:
- In August American had a promotion whereby you could purchase miles for as little as ~2.26 cents per mile
- In February American had a promotion whereby you could purchase miles for as little as ~1.98 cents per mile
- Last April American ran a promotion whereby you could purchase miles for as little as ~2.15 cents per mile
- Last July American had a promotion whereby you could purchase miles for as little as ~2.32 cents per mile (so this promotion is better than that one)
As you can see, we’ve seen better and we’ve seen worse.
With a specific short term use in mind it could still make sense to take advantage of this promotion, like if you can snag Cathay Pacific or Qantas first class award seats. For example, American charges 67,500 miles for a one-way ticket between the US and Asia in first class, so at that rate you could pick up enough miles for a one-way Cathay Pacific first class ticket for just ~$1,500. That’s pretty darn good. I wouldn’t speculatively purchase miles at this cost, though.
Sweet dreams in Cathay Pacific first class!
Keep in mind that American allows five day holds on AAdvantage award tickets, so you can always hold the award tickets, then purchase the miles, and then complete the purchase. Purchased AAdvantage miles don’t post instantly, so expect for it to take 2-3 days for purchased miles to post.
Also keep in mind that accounts have to be least 14 days old to participate in this promotion, and points purchases are processed by points.com, meaning they don’t qualify as airfare spend for the purposes of your credit card.
Comparing this to the US Airways promotion
This promotion is valid for exactly the same dates as US Airways’ Buy Miles promotion, whereby you can earn up to a ~60% bonus on the purchase of miles. That sounds better in theory, except the “base” cost to purchase US Airways miles is higher, so the lowest cost you’ll achieve through that promotion is actually ~2.32 cents per mile.
Sadly that promotion seems to be the “new normal” for US Airways, as they’ll apparently no longer be selling miles for ~1.88 cents each.
I guess until the “new American” integrates their frequent flyer programs, we can expect the two programs to run similar promotions for purchasing miles on similar dates. It is interesting that American still has a cap of 80,000 purchased AAdvantage miles per calendar year, while US Airways has no limit on the number of Dividend Miles you can purchase per year.