Buy American Miles For ~2 Cents Each For A Limited Time

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Through February 16, 2017, American is offering up to 42,500 bonus miles when you purchase AAdvantage miles. On top of that, you can save 10% if you buy miles by February 8, 2017.

American-Bonus-Miles

The bonus miles are tiered, and based on how many you purchase, as follows (again, the 10% discount is only available through February 8, though):

  • Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get 7,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 40,000-59,000 miles, get 15,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 60,000-74,000 miles, get 22,500 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 75,000-99,000 miles, get 30,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 100,000-150,000 miles, get 42,500 bonus miles plus 10% off

american-buy-miles

To achieve the lowest cost on a per mile basis you’ll want to purchase exactly 100,000 miles. If you did that, you’d receive a total of 142,500 miles at a cost of $2,884.13 (factoring in the 10% discount), which is a cost of ~2.02 cents per mile.

american-bonus

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).

American ran this exact promotion last October, so this isn’t an especially unique promotion, and we’ve also seen some lower cost promotions in the past. For example, in December it was possible to buy miles for as little as ~1.74 cents each. That being said, the differences in cost are typically relatively minimal, so I’d choose when to buy miles based on when you need them, and not based on the specifics of the promotion.

Is it a good deal?

With American’s devaluation early last year, 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 U.S. 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. There are certainly instances where it could make sense to pick up miles for ~2.02 cents each with an immediate use in mind, though I’m also confident we’ll see a better offer on purchased miles again sometime in the not too distant future.

Which credit card should you buy miles with?

American processes mileage purchases directly, 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:

Japan-Airlines-Business-Class-777 - 1
Redeem American miles for JAL business class

Bottom line

On a per mile basis, AAdvantage miles were significantly more valuable before the devaluation. This promotion is certainly better than nothing, and buying miles for around two cents each could represent a very good deal. However, we’ve seen better deals on purchased miles in the past, so if you don’t have an immediate use in mind I wouldn’t take advantage of this offer. American is almost always offering bonuses on purchased miles nowadays, so I’d say this is basically the “normal” price.

If you are looking to buy miles, keep in mind that American allows five day award holds (meaning you can hold an award ticket, purchase miles, and then ticket the reservation). Also keep in mind that while the promotion is valid for a while, the 10% discount is only valid for less than a week.

Do you plan on buying American miles through this promotion?


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Comments

  1. No, a better deal would be to pay your income taxes on AA credit cards and get the bonus EQM and EQD as well from Aviator and Exec MC.

    Example if you charged $142,500 on your CC – the net fee cost at 1.87% would be $2664, That is better than the $2884 for buying 142,500 miles. Plus if split between the two cards you would get 10K EQM from each card (20K) and $6K EQD.

    Now most may not pay that much in taxes, but point is paying taxes with CC at any amount is better than buying the miles.

  2. AA miles are basically worth half of what they were worth about a year ago. No one should buy or fly AA. Let their profit drop some more and maybe they will understand the meaning of loyalty. Right now, I value skypesos more than ADisadvantage miles

  3. Do you base your valuation on saver awards, which are nonexistent on AA metal? Seems like a flawed approach

  4. If you have specific dates and places to travel in mind (as most of us do because of day jobs and tight schedules), MilesAAver awards are virtually non-existent. Past December I was trying to ticket a free roundtrip coach award on AA from expiring BusinessExtra certificate and only found one trip that would fit my 2017 schedule (with still rather inconvenient flights and a 50% chance that I will go). My current evaluation of AA miles is <$0.01 per mile for the routes I want to go. Buying AA miles and even charging your CC to get AA miles is a complete waste. Even DL skypesos are better (unless all you want is F cabin).

  5. It would seem ill-advised to buy up, say, two thirds of your annual limit so early in the year at this so-so price, unless of course you need them for close in travel. Best to wait for something better if your plan is simply to layby miles.

  6. Not buying at this price. There are many discounted business class fares out there, (see FT) plus reward availability is terrible. AA would need to bring the cost down to under 1.5cents/mile before I might be interested.

  7. So disappointed in AA, my used to be fav. Their business rewards from JFK to CDG (PARIS) route via Hateful Heathrow on BA. No fights offered on AA or Delta. Sad demotion for us long time AA fans. And all segments are way more expensive.
    Anyone suggesting a better carrier?

  8. @ micheal drydon

    Try iraqi airways they have a fleet of new a380 aircrafts with great service. I have flown hobart to bagdad direct a dozen times in first and love it!

  9. No way I’m spending my hard-earned dollars on such a crappy airline. I’ve XP for many years, I’m a 2-million miler, and I’ve about had it with AA. As someone stated before, the MileSaver Awards are virtually non-existent these days. Just tried redeeming R/T ticket IND-DFW on Economy, and they want me to pay 50K miles for a $344 ticket! And don’t get me started on the overall devaluation of Elite status. Last, but not least, whoever designed the new A139 cabins with only 8 seats in First certainly didn’t have frequent fliers in mind. I was recently on a IND-CLT flight with my 16-yr old son, where my upgrade cleared T-1 hr, yet he was offered to buy the upgrade for $53 the day before! What’s wrong with this picture? I think I’m ready to stop this BS and just fly the best deal, period. That said, none of the other legacy carriers are any better, and WN used to be at least cheap, but nowadays they are even more expensive than the legacy carriers, so not a good option either. Unfortunately, B6 does not fly to my home airport (IND), so I guess I’m SOL. Sorry, I’m rambling now, but I needed to vent. Carry on…

  10. I agree. I tried to use miles to buy any upgrade from SFO to Europe. Absolutely nothing available in May. Ended up purchasing a codeshare AA ticket for BA flight SFO-LHR premium economy. Booked as Class W so should be upgradable per AA website, but when I tried to upgrade, AA tells me that Class W does not really mean Class W and despite website, is not upgradable. I have lifetime elite status and many AA miles, but they have virtually abandoned SFO and OAK, my home airports, and if I can’t use the miles, well, it’s time to switch carriers. The “new” AA feels more like the old US Air. Wonder why…..

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