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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 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 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:
|Card||Points earned on airfare spend|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent|
|Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express||3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent|
|Citi ThankYou® Premier Card||3x ThankYou points per dollar spent|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||2x 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|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®||2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases|
|American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card|
(no annual fee)
|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:
- The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® is offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 AAdvantage miles after making $3,000 of purchases within the first three months; $99 annual fee, waived for the first 12 months
- The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is offering a sign-up bonus of 70,000 AAdvantage miles after making $4,000 of purchases within the first four months; $99 annual fee, waived for the first 12 months
You could easily earn the bonuses on both of those cards, for a total of 130,000+ American bonus miles.
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?