Buy American Miles For ~1.8 Cents Each — Lowest Cost In Years

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Since mid-November, American has been offering a bonus on the purchase of miles. Originally the promotion was just supposed to run through November 30, 2015, but they ended up extending the promotion through January 4, 2016.

American has just sweetened this promotion even further, and are offering the lowest cost per purchased mile I recall seeing in years.

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Previously the biggest bonus you could get with this promotion was 75,000 bonus AAdvantage miles when purchasing 125,000 miles:

American-Bonus-1

However they now added another tier, which represents the highest percentage bonus. Now if you purchase 150,000 miles you can receive 115,000 bonus miles. That represents a ~77% bonus on purchased miles.

American-Bonus-1

That means you could purchase a total of 265,000 AAdvantage miles for $4,786.88. That’s a cost of ~1.81 cents per AAdvantage mile.

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That’s the lowest cost at which I recall American selling miles in quite a while (though not as good as the rate at which US Airways used to sell miles back in the day), though admittedly the investment to get that bonus is also pretty huge. Spending ~$5,000 on miles is no small sum.

Should you buy miles for ~1.81 cents each?

The rate at which American is selling miles through this promotion is roughly in line with my valuation of AAdvantage miles. Generally I wouldn’t buy a mileage currency at the same cost I value it, since I’d rather have cash than miles. The one wrinkle this time around is that American is devaluing their award chart for bookings as of March 22, 2016, so in just over three months the value of those miles will decrease considerably.

Would I buy miles for ~1.81 cents each speculatively? Nope. Would I buy miles for ~1.81 cents each if I wanted to take my whole family to Asia in business class and didn’t have enough miles? At ~$1,000 one-way in Cathay Pacific business class with tons of availability, it’s certainly something I’d consider.

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There are lots of similarly great uses of American miles, especially if you can book before March 22, 2016.

Cathay-Pacific-Business-Class-A330-40

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:

Bottom line

This is the lowest cost I ever recall American selling miles, though you’re having to invest almost $5,000 to pick up miles at that rate.

I wouldn’t buy American miles speculatively at that rate, especially given the upcoming devaluation. But if you have a short term redemption in mind where you could redeem lots of miles (like for travel in first & business class on Cathay Pacific, Japan AirlinesEtihadQatar, etc.), this represents a great value. There are definitely circumstances under which this offer can represent a great deal.

Do you plan on buying American miles for ~1.81 cents each?

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Comments

  1. I have received a 60,000 bonus miles for opening AA credit card, if I spend $3K in the next three months. So If I use this offer and purchase the maximum amount of 150,000, I would also qualify for the 60,000 additional miles. Then maybe it would be worth it??
    .

  2. Yes the deal is good, but I would most likely buy them if I intended to use them straight away. Otherwise keep the cash in the bank and wait.

  3. I’m not going to be too surprised if we see points sold at an even better rate after the devaluation, given their actual value will, obviously, be lower anyway. So unless you’re going to use them prior to the devaluation then it’d probably make sense to wait.

    I’m also expecting an increase in promotions for RDM after the earning changes. Given the huge reduction in RDM earning on a lot of fares there’s a big opportunity for creative promotions.

  4. Best price in year also means lowest value for miles in years.

    This deal makes sense for a tiny group of people.

  5. Was looking to get the CITI AAdvantage Mastercard (bonus of 50K) – buy the miles with this CC for s/up bonus. Spend of 5K (approx) = 265,000 + 50K + 10K CC bonus = 325,000 for about $5K = about 1.5 cents per point. Am thinking about this very seriously. What do you think of this?

  6. They are worth much less that 1.8 cents. One doesn’t wait to value them less on March 22. They’ve lost considerable value already – no wonder they have sweetened the deal for you – NOT….

  7. You left out the grandfathered USAirways-American Airlines Mastercard from BarclayCard USA (which I still hold because they give you up to 10,000 miles back when you redeem miles (10% of the redemption) among other benefits.

  8. Etihad’s A380 Apartment award availability is non existent. If you can snag CX F at the last minute , thats a good deal before the devaluation.

  9. “I wouldn’t buy American miles speculatively at that rate”

    This is your trademark at the end of any of your posts for purchasing miles

    I don’t recall you ever saying you would be definitely be participating.

  10. I realize Etihad’s apartment isn’t available on all routes, but there is some space on the LHR-AUH routes (both directions) especially in October.

  11. It is very important to clarify a misleading element of this article. That screenshot of the CX J award space. Have you actually called AA / BA to confirm that it exists? I assume not, because if you had then you would know that a huge amount of it is phantom availability (I confirmed this with BA as it can’t be confirmed with AA, yet). Which conveniently brings me to my next point. NONE of the J flights in that screenshot are bookable yet using AA miles due to the 331 restriction. In other words, what I’m trying to say is that AA miles are now essentially worth not very much or nothing, depending on where you stand and what you would typically redeem them for. Worth bearing this in mind if you’re a potential buyer at this price.

  12. @Rob – Thanks for sharing that information. I am not buying any miles from AA. Devaluation, lack of availability just makes this an insult. It’s like buying a deal with Groupon (or similar) and when you want to redeem the coupon, the store tells you they are out of inventory – that’s what it is like trying to use miles on AA.

    Save your money.

  13. I have also received the 60K citi AAadvantage offer. If I take the card and cancel it after 10 months before annual fee kicks in, would those miles get revoked?

  14. 331 day restriction = AA only allow you to book awards as far out as 331 days before departure. This also means that their systems can’t see the any flights beyond that – which is what 24-Nov-2016 is.

  15. @GRIZMANJapan

    I was thinking exactly of this, looks like a great offer, 324K miles for 4.8K $, considering we have 3 months to redeem before the devaluation.
    A business intl ticket to south america costs around 4.3K $, or 100K miles (115 after deval), it´s still almost three tickets for the price of one, providing there is availability.
    Any other thoughts on this?

  16. Looks like at the top level, 265K miles costs $4787 with tax and fees, or $ 0.0167 per mile.

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