30 American AAdvantage miles per dollar donated to USO or Susan G Komen

As part of their “30 Deals in 30 Days” promotion, American is offering 30 AAdvantage miles per dollar donated to either the USO or Susan G Komen through May 31, 2011. The only restrictions are that the donation must be at least $25 to qualify and you can earn a maximum of 50,000 miles per charity if you have an address registered in the US, or 60,000 miles if it’s registered internationally. You also have to register here.

While buying miles at 3.3 cents per mile isn’t exactly a bargain, these are both great causes. Also keep in mind that since you’re getting something in return for your donation, you’ll have to deduct the value of the miles from the amount you donated to determine the tax deductible amount (or at least that’s my understanding).


  1. The miles you’re getting are not reported to the IRS by AA or the charities. I would just deduct the full dollar donation, assuming you itemize. If you’re in a higher tax bracket and pay selfemployment tax that could bring the cost of the miles down to around 1.6 cents per mile. Both charities are good causes.

  2. At the bottom of the donation page, it says that For charitable deduction purposes, each mile is valued at 2.75 cents per mile if fewer than 6,000 miles are awarded and 2.5 cents per mile if 6,000 or more miles are awarded. So I suspect the confirmation letter will report a high value for goods and services received (2.75 cents/mile x 30 miles = 82.5 cents/dollar. If this is correct, only 17.5 cents of each dollar contributed is tax deductible. Ouch!!

  3. One question I have is whether the AA value of 2.5 cents per mile is really supportable – true it costs that according to AA, but in terms of redeeming the miles for a ticket, it appears to me that the miles are worth about half that vs. paying cash, at least for a deep discount economy fare. Thus I wonder about claiming a higher deduction for the $ donated. Anybody ever look into this?

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