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Surprise, surprise! American devalued their miles less than a week ago, and today they’re offering a sale on the purchase of miles, at one of the lowest yet.
Through April 28, 2016, American is offering up to 115,000 bonus AAdvantage miles when buying miles. That translates into a bonus of up to ~77%, which is just about the highest bonus we’ve ever seen.
The number of bonus miles varies based on how many you buy, 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 30,00 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 125,000-149,000 miles, get 75,00 bonus miles
- Buy 150,000 miles, get 115,000 bonus miles
Given the tiered bonuses, you’ll achieve the lowest cent per mile cost if you purchase exactly 150,000 miles, since you’d be earning a ~77% bonus on purchased miles. Of course that’s a huge quantity of miles to purchase, as you’d be getting a total of 265,000 miles at a cost of $4,786.88. That’s a rate of ~1.81 cents per mile.
How does this promotion compare to past promotions from American on the purchase of miles (keeping in mind that all the other promotions were before American’s devaluation)?
- In February 2016 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.02 cents each
- In January 2016 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.13 cents each
- In December 2015 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~1.8 cents each
- In November 2015 AAdvantage sold miles for as little as ~2.1 cents each
- 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
As you can see, this is among the best prices we’ve ever seen on the purchase of AAdvantage miles, which comes as no surprise, given that the value of American miles just decreased.
As usual, AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old aren’t eligible to purchase miles. Furthermore, there’s an annual cap of purchasing 150,000 AAdvantage miles per account per calendar year (pre-bonus).
Is it a good deal?
With American’s recent devaluation, my valuation of AAdvantage miles has decreased from ~1.8 cents to ~1.5 cents each. With the recent devaluation, it’s international first class award redemptions which went up in price most, with awards increasing in price by up to ~70% in some instances.
Meanwhile the cost of most business class awards increased as well, though not nearly as drastically. As a reminder, here’s the cost of first and business class awards originating in the US under the new program:
|Contiguous 48 U.S. To:||Business Class||First Class|
|Contiguous 48 U.S. States||25,000||50,000|
|Canada & Alaska||30,000||55,000|
|South America Zone 1||30,000||55,000|
|South America Zone 2||57,500||85,000|
|Middle East / India||70,000||115,000|
|Asia Zone 1||60,000||80,000|
|Asia Zone 2||70,000||110,000|
I find the cost of business class redemptions to still be reasonable in most cases, and if you’re essentially picking up miles at ~1.8 cents each, there are instances where buying miles can make sense.
Qatar Airways business class continues to be a great use of American miles
You’ll of course want to crunch the numbers for yourself in other to decide.
One thing I’d note is that for a couple more days Alaska is also selling miles with a great bonus, lowering the cost per acquired Alaska mile to ~2.1 cents. While that’s a higher cent per mile cost than with American, Alaska has lower redemption rates and even allows stopovers on one-way awards. So if you’re considering redeeming on one of their partner airlines, I might consider buying Alaska miles instead.
Redeem Alaska or American miles for Cathay Pacific business class
Which credit card should you buy miles with?
As of last 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 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
Of course there was a lot more value to be had from AAdvantage miles before the devaluation, but there are definitely still circumstances under which this could represent a great deal, particularly for travel in international business class.
This is one of the best prices we’ve seen on the purchase of AAdvantage miles, though I’d expect that given the recent devaluation.
If you are considering buying miles in the next couple of days, I’d seriously consider buying Alaska miles rather than American miles, though.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we see American continue to lower the cost of purchased miles over time to reflect the higher redemption rates. As before, you’ll have to crunch the numbers for yourself and decide how much you value them.
Lastly, keep in mind that American allows five day award holds (meaning you can hold an award ticket, purchase miles, and then ticket the reservation).
At what rate would you buy AAdvantage miles after the devaluation?