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American is offering both a 15% discount and tiered mileage bonuses on the purchase of AAdvantage miles through July 13, 2015. I do find it sort of funny how they turn these promotions into (minor) math puzzles, rather than just offering a straightforward discount. Then again, something tells me most people aren’t maximizing these promotions correctly, which is why they do it.
This time around you get a 15% discount no matter how many miles you purchase, but then the number of bonus miles you earn is tiered. The breakdown is as follows:
- Buy 1,000-15,000 miles, get 0 bonus miles and 15% off
- Buy 16,000-30,000 miles, get 5,000 bonus miles and 15% off
- Buy 31,000-45,000 miles, get 10,000 bonus miles and 15% off
- Buy 46,000-60,000 miles, get 15,000 bonus miles and 15% off
- Buy 61,000-75,000 miles, get 20,000 bonus miles and 15% off
- Buy 76,000-100,000 miles, get 27,500 bonus miles and 15% off
If you want to maximize your cent per mile ratio you’d want to buy the fewest number of miles in a given “range.”
The absolute best cent per mile ratio you’ll achieve is if you purchase exactly 76,000 AAdvantage miles. That’s because you’d be eligible for both the 15% discount and 27,500 mile bonus. If you purchase 76,000 miles then you’d earn a total of 103,500 AAdvantage miles at a cost of $2,078.63 including all taxes and processing charges. That’s a rate of ~2.0 cents per mile.
To compare this promotion to recent ones that AAdvantage offered:
- In early June 2015 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.06 cents each
- 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
This makes the current promotion one of the most lucrative yet, as this is just about the best cent per mile ratio we’ve seen on an AAdvantage buy miles promotion in quite a while.
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. That limit doesn’t include any bonus miles.
Is it a good deal?
~2 cents per mile isn’t a rate at which I’d speculatively purchase American AAdvantage miles (I value American miles at ~1.8 cents each). 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 ~$1,350 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 ~$800 out of pocket, that’s a steal.
Which credit card should you buy miles with?
As of earlier this year, 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:
- American Express Premier Rewards Gold — 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
- Citi ThankYou® Premier Card – 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent
- Citi Prestige® Card — 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent
- Chase Sapphire Preferred — 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 two cents each just for giggles, but if you have a premium cabin redemption on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Etihad, Qatar, etc., in mind, it’s tough to go wrong.
This is among the best bonuses we’ve seen on the purchase of AAdvantage miles, though ultimately the variance in the cost of purchased miles isn’t huge. In other words, I’d rather buy miles for 2.1 cents each when I knew I had an immediate use for them, rather than for ~2.0 cents each speculatively.
Also keep in mind that 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 as lucrative as it was in the US Airways days, it is nice to see that American is frequently offering a discount on purchased miles.
Do you plan on purchasing AAdvantage miles for ~2 cents each?