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Through November 13, 2015, American is offering up to 35,000 bonus AAdvantage miles when buying miles, plus a 10% discount on the cost.
The 10% discount applies as long as you purchase at least 20,000 AAdvantage miles. Meanwhile the number of bonus miles you earn depends on how many miles you buy, as follows:
- Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get 7,000 bonus miles
- Buy 40,000-59,000 miles, get 13,000 bonus miles
- Buy 60,000-79,000 miles, get 20,000 bonus miles
- Buy 80,000-99,000 miles, get 30,000 bonus miles
- Buy 100,000-125,000 miles, get 35,000 bonus miles
Given the tiered bonuses, you’ll actually achieve the lowest cent per mile cost if you purchase exactly 80,000 miles. In that instance you’d receive 30,000 bonus miles plus a 10% discount. That’s a total of 110,000 AAdvantage miles at a cost of $2,313.30, which is ~2.10 cents per mile.
Meanwhile if you purchase exactly 100,000 miles you’d receive a bonus of 35,000 miles. That would be a total of 135,000 AAdvantage miles at a cost of $2,884.13, which is ~2.14 cents per mile.
To compare this promotion to recent ones that AAdvantage offered:
- In August 2015 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.09 cents each
- 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
While the differences aren’t huge, this isn’t one of the best promotions we’ve seen this year. It’s not a massive difference, as we’re talking a variance of ~5%. I wouldn’t be deciding on whether to take advantage of a promotion based on the slight difference in cost, but rather based on when you actually have a need for the miles.
As usual, AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old aren’t eligible to purchase miles. As far as the mileage limit purchase goes, American has raised it with this promotion. You used to be able to purchase at most 100,000 AAdvantage miles per account per calendar year, though that has now been raised to 125,000 miles (this amount doesn’t include bonus miles).
Is it a good deal?
~2.1 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:
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express — 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 ~2.1 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 ~2.1 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).
Do you plan on purchasing AAdvantage miles with a 35% bonus and 10% discount?