In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!
Update: This offer for the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is expired. Learn more about the current offer here.
Update: This offer for the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card is expired. Learn more about the current offer here.
American is offering tiered bonuses on the purchase of AAdvantage miles through June 12, 2015. Interestingly this promotion comes just days after American wrapped up a “flash sale” on the purchase of AAdvantage miles, though now the cost per purchased mile is potentially even lower.
As I mentioned above, the bonus is tiered, so the more miles you purchase, the more bonus miles you earn. The breakdown is as follows:
- Buy 15,000-29,000 miles, get 3,500 bonus miles
- Buy 30,000-44,000 miles, get 10,000 bonus miles
- Buy 45,000-59,000 miles, get 20,000 bonus miles
- Buy 60,000-74,000 miles, get 30,000 bonus miles
- Buy 75,000-89,000 miles, get 40,000 bonus miles
- Buy 90,000-100,000 miles, get 50,000 bonus miles
If you want to maximize your cent per mile ratio you’d want to buy exactly 90,000 miles, since that would earn you a ~56% bonus (if you purchase 100,000 miles you’d get the same number of bonus miles). That means you’d get 140,000 miles (90,000 miles plus the 50,000 mile bonus) for a total cost of ~$2,880, which is a cost of ~2.06 cents per AAdvantage mile.
This is a bit more expensive than the rate at which American was selling AAdvantage miles in April, which was ~2.0 cents per mile. Though it’s also a bit less than the rate at which American was selling miles last week (~2.09 cents per mile).
To compare this promotion to recent ones that AAdvantage offered:
- In early May 2015 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.09 cents each
- In April 2015 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.0 cents each
- In February 2015 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.07 cents each
- In January 2015 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.14 cents each
- In November/December 2014 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.06 cents each
As usual, AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old aren’t eligible to purchase miles, and you’re limited to purchasing 100,000 AAdvantage miles per account per calendar year (which is why it’s generally more lucrative to purchase miles when they’re offering a bonus as opposed to a discount, since bonus miles don’t count towards that cap).
Is it a good deal?
~2.06 cents per mile isn’t a rate at which I’d speculatively purchase American AAdvantage miles. That being said, with a specific use in mind, it certainly could be worthwhile.
For example, 67,500 miles is enough for a one-way ticket in Cathay Pacific first class between the US and Asia, so for ~$1,400 out of pocket that’s not half bad.
40,000 miles will get you an award in an Etihad A380 First Class Apartment between Abu Dhabi and London, so for just $850 out of pocket, that’s a steal.
Which credit card should you buy miles with?
As of a few months ago American processes mileage purchases directly (rather than through points.com), which means the purchase of miles does qualify as airfare spend. Therefore you’ll want to consider using one of the following cards for your purchase, since they offer the following bonus miles for airfare spend:
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express — 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
- Citi ThankYou® Premier Card – 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® — 2x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® — 2x AAdvantage miles per dollar spent
With a specific use in mind, this can be a great value. I wouldn’t speculatively buy AAdvantage miles for over two cents each just for giggles, but if you have a specific premium cabin redemption on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Etihad, Qatar, etc., in mind, it’s tough to go wrong.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen such a bonus and it certainly won’t be the last, so I’d purchase miles around the same time you need them, especially since American allows five day award holds (meaning you can hold an award ticket, purchase miles, and then ticket the reservation).
While buying miles isn’t nearly as lucrative as it was in the US Airways days, it is nice to see that American is almost constantly offering a discount on purchased miles.
Do you plan on purchasing AAdvantage miles for ~2.06 cents each?