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One of the best ways to travel in first & business class at huge discounts is by purchasing miles during promotions.
American is one of the most aggressive airlines when it comes to selling miles, and in mid-November they announced a bonus on the purchase of AAdvantage miles, which they marketed as their best offer of the year.
The offer was supposed to be valid through November 30, 2015, though American has now extended their buy miles promotion through January 4, 2016.
As a reminder, the bonus is tiered, meaning the more miles you buy, the bigger the bonus, as follows:
- Buy 6,000-9,000 miles, get 1,500 bonus miles
- Buy 10,000-19,000 miles, get 3,500 bonus miles
- Buy 20,000-29,000 miles, get 7,500 bonus miles
- Buy 30,000-39,000 miles, get 15,000 bonus miles
- Buy 40,000-54,000 miles, get 22,500 bonus miles
- Buy 55,000-69,000 miles, get 30,000 bonus miles
- Buy 70,000-84,000 miles, get 40,000 bonus miles
- Buy 85,000-99,000 miles, get 50,000 bonus miles
- Buy 100,000-124,000 miles, get 60,000 bonus miles
- Buy 125,000 miles, get 75,000 bonus miles
If you max out the bonus and purchase 125,000 miles, you’d receive a bonus of 75,000 AAdvantage miles. That’s a total of 200,000 AAdvantage miles for $3994.06, which is ~2.0 cents per mile.
That is indeed their best offer of the year, but only by a little bit.
Is it a good deal?
~2.0 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.
There are tons of other similarly excellent redemption opportunities out there.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that American will be devaluing their award chart on March 22, 2016, which will increase the cost of many of my favorite awards.
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:
|Card||Points earned on airfare spend|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve℠||3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent|
|Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express||3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent|
|Citi Prestige® Card||3x ThankYou 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® Executive World Elite Mastercard®||2x AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases|
|CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®||2x AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases|
There are definitely circumstances under which this offer can represent a great deal. I wouldn’t buy the miles speculatively, though. In other words, if you have a specific use in mind (like for travel in first & business class on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Etihad, Qatar, etc.) and crunch the numbers, then I’d absolutely take advantage of this offer.
Do keep in mind that American is devaluing their award chart for bookings as of March 22, 2016, so ideally you’d want to make your award redemptions before then.
Do you plan on buying American miles using this promotion?