American Is Selling Miles For 1.77 Cents Each Through The End Of The Year

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American has just announced their latest promotion on purchased miles, which comes about a week after their previous bonus on purchased miles ended. Through January 4, 2018, American is offering up to 120,000 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 10,000-24,000 miles, get 3,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 25,000-49,000 miles, get 9,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 50,000-74,000 miles, get 27,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 75,000-99,000 miles, get 48,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 100,000-149,000 miles, get 72,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 150,000 miles, get 120,000 bonus miles

To maximize this promotion you’ll want to buy exactly 150,000 miles (pre-bonus). If you do that, you’d receive a total of 270,000 AAdvantage miles at a cost of $4,786.88, which is a cost of ~1.77 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 on purchased miles go, this one is quite good. It’s identical to the Black Friday bonus they were offering on purchased miles about a week ago. Prior to that, American sold miles for as little as ~1.91 cents each in November. The best promotion we saw from American was back in July, when they sold miles for as little as ~1.72 cents each. So this isn’t that much worse than the best offer over the year.

Is buying American miles a good deal?

When American devalued their award chart early last year, 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 this year. With American’s big devaluation it’s international first class award redemptions that 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
Central America27,50052,500
South America Zone 130,00055,000
South America Zone 257,50085,000
Middle East / India70,000115,000
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 certainly instances where it could make sense to pick up miles for just under two cents each with a short term use in mind, though I wouldn’t load up at this price. I suspect we’ll see American offer a marginally 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:

CardPoints earned on airfare spend
The Platinum Card® from American Express5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
American Express® Gold Card3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
Chase Sapphire Reserve®3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive 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® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card2 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. To do the math differently, that lowers the real out of pocket to ~1.62 cents per mile.

Bottom line

While American miles were more valuable early last year, there are still circumstances under which it can make sense to buy miles. With a short term use in mind I wouldn’t hesitate to buy miles through this promotion, as it’s among the lowest costs we’ve seen this year.

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).

Do you plan on buying American miles through this promotion?

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  1. I have 250K American Miles that I can never seem to burn. My united miles go fast though. Even my Delta miles go faster than my American ones.

  2. @ Ven – With AA, availability is never going to jump out at you. It’s usually blink and you’ll miss it. That said, I’ve found saver availability on prime routes AND on AA metal without much effort. As long as you search every day (not just searching the entire calendar but spending a few minutes of your time each day checking availability) you will go through that 250K easily unless your dates are absolutely set in stone.

  3. I just did a quick search and all the AA availability for business was main leg in economy. Checked 10 different days. Was to Australia from the USA which i figured probably doesn’t exist?

  4. I burned through all my aa miles this year for tickets to S America this year and next year. Of course none of the award tickets purchased were at Saaver level. I have to say my business class seat from Santiago to Miami was much nicer than the business class seat on United from EWR to Buenos Aires. Night and day actually. I will definitely avoid United when traveling down to South America until they actually implement the new Polaris seats…. ten years from now?? Lol

  5. @Kevin
    I flew United Buenos Aires to EWR on October 29. I know it’s not the new Polaris seats, but for a non-787/A350, I would say it was quite comfortable.

    That being said, I redeemed 160 000 AAdvantage miles, for 4 one-way segments in Business on Cathay Pacific, 2X TPE-HKG-AKL, and 2X SYD-PVG on QANTAS. Considering the 11 hour flights both ways, I would say the equivalent of two round-trip tickets in Business for 80k each is quite amazing. Travelling from North America on AA however… harder to find seats anywhere!

  6. I’m not in this to pay 1.7 cents for something that’s barely worth 1 cent. Award seat availability stinks, and of course they have to offer lower prices for something that they’ve devalued so aggressively.

  7. Even economy flights to/from Europe have gotten ridiculous! Used to be able to book 40k roundtrips all day long, now they want 95k for a roundtrip. That is ~1.5 cpm. My wife and I have 1/2 million AA miles and can’t stomach buying 5 tickets for our family at that price. We have switched over to Chase Ultimate Rewards, transfer to United and book on Lufthansa. I live in DFW area so not flying AA is extremely hard, but I am up for the challenge.

  8. Amen DaveS. Based on what I want to do with them, I value AA miles at less than 0.01 cents. And that’s for just traveling biz class, nothing fancy.

  9. AAdvantage miles aren’t a good deal at any price because saver awards are limited to non-existent. Also, remember what you pay now is not what those miles may be worth when you try to use them; American can devalue them anytime they want and with no justification. American is playing you for a sucker if you sent them cold cash for AAdvantage miles.

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