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American is offering up to a 35% discount on the purchase of AAdvantage miles through September 3, 2015.
The discounts are tiered, meaning the more miles you purchase, the greater the discount. This time around the breakdown is as follows:
- Buy 6,000-14,000 miles, get 15% off
- Buy 15,000-39,000 miles, get 20% off
- Buy 40,000-64,000 miles, get 25% off
- Buy 65,000-89,000 miles, get 30% off
- Buy 90,000-100,000 miles, get 35% off
It goes without saying that if you want to get the best cent per mile ratio you’ll want to buy between 90,000 and 100,000 miles. Through this promotion you can buy 90,000 miles at a cost of $1,885.18 including all taxes and fees (factoring in the 35% discount). That’s a rate of 2.09 cents per mile.
To compare this promotion to recent ones that AAdvantage offered:
- In July 2015 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.0 cents each
- 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
So this promotion is pretty average as far as AAdvantage promotions go for the purchase of miles. We’ve seen better prices and we’ve seen worse prices, though they’re all within a fairly narrow range. Personally I’d be deciding on which promotion to take advantage of based on when I had the need for the miles, rather than which promotion is marginally better.
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 (in this case there are no bonus miles but rather just discounts).
Is it a good deal?
~2.09 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 ~$1,450 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 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 ~2.09 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.
While we’ve seen slightly lower rates when purchasing miles, I’d make my decision based on when I needed the miles as opposed to marginal differences in their cost. In other words, I’d rather buy miles for ~2.09 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 continuing to frequently offer discounts on the purchase of miles.
Do you plan on purchasing AAdvantage miles with a 35% discount?