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Nowadays American AAdvantage offers bonuses on purchased miles more often than not. On January 4 their last bonus on purchased miles ended (which was one of their best bonuses in a long time), and now American has launched their next promotion. Through January 30, 2018, American is offering up to 50,000 bonus miles when you purchase AAdvantage miles.
With this promotion the number of bonus miles you earn is tiered, and based on how many you buy, as follows:
- Buy 5,000-14,000 miles, get 1,000 bonus miles
- Buy 15,000-24,000 miles, get 5,000 bonus miles
- Buy 25,000-49,000 miles, get 10,000 bonus miles
- Buy 50,000-69,000 miles, get 22,500 bonus miles
- Buy 70,000-99,000 miles, get 35,000 bonus miles
- Buy 100,000-150,000 miles, get 50,000 bonus miles
Ordinarily you’ll achieve the lowest cost per mile through these promotions by buying the maximum number of miles, though this time around you can maximize the promotion by buying 100,000 miles, as you’d receive the equivalent of a 50% bonus. If you do that, you’d receive 150,000 AAdvantage miles at a cost of $3,201.25, which is a cost of ~2.13 cents per mile.
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), though since it’s the beginning of the year, that limit was reset just over a week ago.
As far as American’s bonuses on purchased miles go, this is one of the less generous promotions we’ve seen. For example, up until last week you could purchase American miles for as little as 1.77 cents each. That was one of the best promotions we had seen in a while, though otherwise typically 2.1 cents per mile is on the high end of their promotions on purchased miles.
Is buying American miles a good deal?
When American devalued their award chart in early 2016, my valuation of AAdvantage miles decreased from ~1.8 cents to ~1.5 cents each. My valuation of American miles has further dropped from ~1.5 cents to ~1.3 cents earlier last year. Ever since the big devaluation, the cost of international first class awards went up in price by the most, by as much as 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 current 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|
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 during a promotion with a short term use in mind, though I wouldn’t load up at this price. I suspect we’ll see American offer a lower price on purchased miles again sometime soon.
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:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express — 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express — 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card — 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
Redeem American miles for JAL business class
For example, I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so I view that as an 8.5% return on this spend if you use The Platinum Card® from American Express.
While American miles aren’t as valuable as they used to be, there are still circumstances under which it can make sense to buy them. If you’re in a bind and could use the miles in the short term then buying miles through this promotion isn’t necessarily a bad deal. However, I suspect we’ll see miles for 10-15% less within the next couple of months, if you can wait.
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).