American’s Best Promotion Of The Year On Purchased Miles

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American has just launched their latest promotion on purchased miles. Through June 30, 2018, American is offering up to 100,000 bonus miles plus 10% off when you purchase AAdvantage miles. This is American’s best promotion on purchased miles so far in 2018.

With this promotion you get a tiered bonus based on the number of miles you buy, plus a 10% discount:

  • Buy 11,000-20,000 miles, get 2,500 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 21,000-50,000 miles, get 5,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 51,000-75,000 miles, get 15,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 76,000-100,000 miles, get 27,500 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 101,000-125,000 miles, get 45,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 126,000-150,000 miles, get 70,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 150,000 miles, get 100,000 bonus miles plus 10% off

In this case you’ll receive the lowest cost per mile by purchasing exactly 150,000 miles pre-bonus. This would earn you a total of 250,000 miles for $4,311.19, which is a cost of ~1.72 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).

As far as American’s bonuses and discounts on purchased miles go, this is the best we’ve seen so far this year:

  • In May American offered miles for as little as 2.08 cents each
  • In April American offered miles for as little as 1.81 cents each
  • In February American offered miles for as little as 2.02 cents each
  • In January American sold miles for as little as 2.13 cents each

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 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 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 instances where it could make sense to pick up miles during a promotion with a short term use in mind. In this case it might even be worth buying miles somewhat speculatively, given that this is the lowest cost per purchased mile of the year.

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:

CardPoints earned on airfare spend
The Platinum Card® from American Express5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
Chase Sapphire Reserve®3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card3x ThankYou points per dollar spent
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases


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. So if you used that card and paid ~1.82 cents per mile and valued the 5x points at 8.5%, that would lower your real cost of acquiring these miles to ~1.57 cents each, which is even better.

Other great ways to earn American miles

There are lots of great ways to earn American miles aside from outright buying them. Remember that at the moment there are even increased welcome bonuses on American’s co-branded Citi Cards, as follows:

You could easily earn the bonuses on both of those cards, for a total of 130,000+ American bonus miles.

Bottom line

This is American’s best bonus on purchased miles so far in 2018. Buying American miles for 1.72 cents each can potentially be a good deal, and it gets even better if you’re earning 5x miles for the purchase, with a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express. By my math, buying miles with that card brings the real cost per mile down to around 1.57 cents.

Of course also remember the great welcome bonuses available on some co-branded American cards, which are a much cheaper way to rack up the miles while also earning some useful benefits.

Do you plan on buying American miles with their best sale of the year?

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Comments

  1. The Barclay Aviator Silver card is better than either of the Citi AAdvantage cards listed at 3X AAdvantage miles per dollar, but since Barclay doesn’t compensate you they don’t get mentioned.

  2. Lucky,

    In your experience, does AA offer promotions where you can get similar value when you don’t max out the amount of miles you buy? For example, if I wanted to buy 103,500 miles in this promotion, they would cost 2.12 cents per mile, which doesn’t seem that great. Does AA run a promotion where buying 100,000 miles or so costs under 2 cents a mile?

    Thanks – I am considering going for this promotion and paying with my Amex Plat….

  3. Lucky,

    I think you should let your readers knows (that do not already) that AA has the absolute worst availability. Sure, if you want a domestic first product they might be right for you but most of us are looking for the long haul premium cabin seats – AA does not make these available on the saver level. They could sell miles for 1 cent per mile and it’s still just throwing away your hard earned cash. Pro tip: Don’t buy AA miles

  4. Ben, I have 130k AA miles that are sitting waiting to be burnt. I don’t fly AA so I want rid. What is the best way to use these on a one way to somewhere like Bali or Fiji? I tend to book within 1-2 months of living so can’t take advantage of booking far out. I have nonstatus with AA. Thanks for ideas.

  5. Outrageous. I bought under the last promotion a few weeks ago, when that one was considered the “best of the year.” Next month, they’ll be giving away 200k free miles.

    I guess it’s moot though, since we can’t really redeem miles for sweet-spot travel no matter how cheap they get. Also, won’t these frequent sales ultimately devalue the miles as a currency altogether? AA has already done that with program changes, so why not keep making it worse?

  6. I can’t seem to spend the miles and hotel points I’ve got. Wake me up when US AIR sells miles at 1.1 cents again.

    As to the commenter who says they can’t use the miles , you can definitely use them for premium redemptions ….on other carriers . While it’s Star Alliance , my neighbor had 2 first and 7 business class seats on the same LH flight yesterday

  7. I so agree with Tom. This is a huge rip-off to buy miles unless you can use them on partner airlines (except BA) to Asia. I fell for this scam and had to get to Paris. No availability except First with an idiotic routing. GDL-DFW overnight at DFW, then Coach to MIA-CDG. Return was even more laughable. Orly on some BA offshoot to EWR-DFW and another overnight at Dallas then next day flight to GDL. Meanwhile there were seats available on the DFW-CDG-DFW flights. I would NEVER buy miles on AA.

  8. Agree with Tom.
    A waste of money, as direct international long haul flights in premium cabins are never available.
    Usually requires at least one stop and sometimes with mixed cabins.
    No thanks!

  9. What everyone else said. Non-availability of seats makes this a scam. No availability with Qantas or Cathay to Aus/NZ in J or F on the dates I’ve tried.

  10. I agree with several of the earlier responders. This would be a great deal for getting business class seats on, say, a Europe trip but none of the flights are direct! And the routings are terrible. Almost no AA flights and mostly British AIr flights which have you scrambling to find your onward connection at one of the busiest airports in the world. Great deal for American; terrible deal for the passenger.

  11. I need about 20,000 AAdvantage miles to complete an award ticket – this would deplete my AAdvantage account. I am really considering just buying the full amount of miles with the Amex Platinum and getting 5x…

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