American Selling Miles For ~1.89 Cents Each

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!

As I posted about earlier today, American is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the AAdvantage program.

Through June 1, 2016, American is offering up to a 35% discount plus 15,000 bonus miles on the purchase of AAdvantage miles.

American-Bonus-Miles

The 35% discount applies as long as you purchase at least 35,000 AAdvantage miles. On top of that there are tiered mileage bonuses for larger mileage purchases:

  • Buy 135,000-149,000 miles, get 5,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 150,000 miles, get 15,000 bonus miles

American-Bonus

To achieve the lowest cost on a per mile basis you’ll want to purchase exactly 150,000 miles. If you did that, you’d receive a total of 165,000 miles at a cost of $3,122.02, which is a cost of ~1.89 cents per mile.

Cost-Buying-Miles

As usual, AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old aren’t eligible to purchase miles. Furthermore, there’s a cap of purchasing 150,000 AAdvantage miles per account per calendar year (pre-bonus).

As far as the relative value of this promotion goes, this is significantly less than American used to sell miles for pre-devaluation. However, in April American sold miles for as little as ~1.81 cents each, which is less than they’re selling them for now. So while this is more expensive than what they charged last time, it’s otherwise the lowest cost at which they’ve sold miles in a long time.

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. 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 ClassFirst Class
Contiguous 48 U.S. States 25,00050,000
Canada & Alaska30,00055,000
Hawaii40,00065,000
Caribbean27,50052,500
Mexico27,50052,500
Central America27,50052,500
South America Zone 130,00055,000
South America Zone 257,50085,000
Europe57,50085,000
Middle East / India70,000115,000
Africa75,000120,000
Asia Zone 160,00080,000
Asia Zone 270,000110,000
South Pacific80,000110,000

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-30
Qatar Airways business class continues to be a great use of American miles

I find the cost of business class redemptions to still be reasonable in most cases, and if you’re essentially picking up miles at ~1.9 cents each, there are instances where buying miles can make sense.

You’ll of course want to crunch the numbers for yourself in order to decide.

One other thing to be aware of is that there are a couple of other great programs selling miles at the moment.

Alaska Mileage Plan is presently offering up to a 50% bonus on purchased miles, which translates to a purchase rate of ~1.98 cents per mile. On a per mile basis I consider Mileage Plan miles to be the most valuable mileage currency out there, so there are plenty of circumstances under which that’s a great deal. For example, Alaska has extremely attractive redemption rates on Cathay Pacific, much better than the rates American charges nowadays.

Alaska-Bonus-Miles-1

Avianca LifeMiles is also offering a bonus on purchased miles, of up to 125%. This lowers the cost per purchased mile to as little as 1.47 cents, so it’s a great opportunity to pick up discounted premium cabin Star Alliance tickets.

LifeMiles

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:

Bottom line

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 better prices we’ve seen on the purchase of AAdvantage miles, though I’d expect that given the recent devaluation.

Over time I wouldn’t be surprised if we see American continue to lower the cost of purchased miles 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).

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Can you stop touting all of these ‘buy miles’ posts? It’s annoying and quite dishonest since you do not state you get a commission. Shouldn’t you care about your readers rather than fleecing them and trying to make a quick buck?

  2. @Marc – why do you care if he makes a commission or not? He’s simply sharing information and it’s up to each reader to do what they want with that information. He’s not making anyone buy miles or sign up for any credit cards.

  3. @ Marc — I don’t earn any commission on anyone buying American miles. Sorry you don’t find it useful. A lot of other people do.

  4. Lucky: I find these articles very useful. Keep them coming!

    Marc: And even if Lucky made a commission, what’s the problem? Everybody needs to make a living. Lucky provides useful information. In any case, there’s a disclaimer on top of each article (I think more for credit cards but I always assume this also extends to other links). ‘In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links.’
    So there is no problem at all.

  5. I also find them useful. I was waiting patiently for the LifeMiles sale and I knew Lucky would alert us.

  6. @MARC – its a free economy, Ben is purely stating what is out there in the market and explaining very well the pros/cons to it if you wish to buy, simple as that, he is entitled to, as its his business, to make a living, he also publishes this disclaimers too for everyone to read.

  7. I am one of those that find articles like this useful. I am waiting for United to sell some miles cheap. *dont laugh*

  8. @Nate —

    You just missed United’s recent offer of a 75% bonus when you buy miles above a 20K threshold. They should offer it again in the fall.

  9. ok I am earning points on my AA credit card but have never used them still a newbie………I am wanting to figure out the cheapest way to get to Australia or New Zealand in business class if possible……So would purchasing these miles help me? I keep trying to find a “using points for miles for dummies” book…

    any help would be appreciated……….I am a farmer in Missouri thanks for your time.

  10. Lucky
    Do you or any of your followers have any statistics or evidence supporting the idea that ffp points purchases have started to decrease since the recently extreme devaluation of ffp points/redemption?

  11. @Lucky Just offering up my snarky opinion; I get confused at which programs you get commission for and which ones you don’t. Looks like the people have spoken so carry on. My fault for reading too much of BoardingArea.

  12. Thanks, David. I must have clicked on an old link where it still shows ANA and SQ as partners.

  13. Hey i am old and new to this purchasing miles a former colleague told me how to do this, however, i am a novice. I do travel from new york to asia at least twice a year, hopefully in business class would this be a good deal, I only have the citi platinum card, didn’t know about the other cards, but i might apply for them if it is a better deal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *