Limited Time: Buy American Miles For ~2 Cents Each

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Through October 31, 2016, American is offering up to 42,500 bonus miles when you purchase AAdvantage miles. On top of that, you can save 10% if you buy miles by October 3, 2016.


The bonus miles are tiered, and based on how many you purchase, as follows (again, the 10% discount is only available through October 3, though):

  • Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get 7,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 40,000-59,000 miles, get 15,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 60,000-74,000 miles, get 22,500 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 75,000-99,000 miles, get 30,000 bonus miles plus 10% off
  • Buy 100,000-150,000 miles, get 42,500 bonus miles plus 10% off


To achieve the lowest cost on a per mile basis you’ll want to purchase exactly 100,000 miles. If you did that, you’d receive a total of 142,500 miles at a cost of $2,884.13 (factoring in the 10% discount), which is a cost of ~2.02 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 a point of comparison, in August American had a promotion selling miles for as little as ~2.04 cents each, while in May American had a promotion selling miles for as little as ~1.89 cents each. So when you factor in the 10% discount, this promotion is average. Perhaps the one benefit is that the cash outlay required to achieve the lowest per mile cost is lower through this promotion than past promotions (since you don’t have to buy 150,000 miles to get the best deal).

That being said, the differences in cost are typically minimal, so I’d choose when to buy miles based on when you need them, and not based on the specifics of the promotion.

Is it a good deal?

With American’s devaluation earlier this year, my valuation of AAdvantage miles has decreased from ~1.8 cents to ~1.5 cents each. It’s international first class award redemptions which 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 US 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 ~2.02 cents each with an immediate use in mind, though I’m also confident we’ll see a better offer on purchased miles again sometime in the not too distant future.

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

Japan-Airlines-Business-Class-777 - 1
Redeem American miles for JAL business class

Bottom line

On a per mile basis, AAdvantage miles were significantly more valuable before the devaluation. This promotion is certainly better than nothing, and buying miles for around two cents each could represent a very good deal. However, we’ve seen better deals on purchased miles in the past, so if you don’t have an immediate use in mind I wouldn’t take advantage of this offer. American is almost always offering bonuses on purchased miles nowadays, so I’d say this is basically the “normal” price.

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 keep in mind that while the promotion is valid for a month, the 10% discount is only valid for the next week.

Do you plan on buying American miles through this promotion?

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  1. You could indirectly purchase AA miles for ~$0.01 each just before the merger via the US share promo. That was a good deal. $0.02 – not so much.

    Also, with the recent AA devaluation, the costs in miles for flight to/from Canada increased more than USA, while previously USA and Canada was the same North America pricing, so Canadian AA members got hosed.

  2. How would you value the miles if purchased with the cards that have 3x value of points? An additional 8600 points on Chase cant be too shabby eh?

  3. Also should add that with them adding PE next year, it would be a good time to burn some miles as who knows if they will devalue business again to add PE between business and economy.

  4. Why wouldn’t you use a Barclays Aviator or Citi Aadvantage card to earn the additional AA bonus miles for AA spend?

  5. You value the miles at 1.5 and they want to charge 2.0?
    What am I missing? I know I’m pretty new to this game, but
    the numbers don’t make sense to me.

  6. and, when booking AA award flights to Europe, enjoy paying the $960.00 round-trip business class “Heathrow tax”, through which American funnels virtually all of its European award flights.

    let’s just all be willingly abused by airlines.

  7. Tried to book flights from their website to see how extensive their reach is in Asia. Unfortunately, was not able to book any flights departing from Singapore (or near Singapore) where I am based. I am not a member so I will probably not qualify for this deal but does it make sense for me to join and buy mikes from AA if I am based in Singapore?

  8. I wouldn’t purchase. If you haven’t noticed, AA is planning another devaluation. You can see it in the award chart searches if you look for availability in first going to/from Asia.

  9. AA business/first award availability domestically has fallen off a cliff. I can’t even find one seat for non-stop business/first LAX-NYC (other than a few redeyes) for the entire month of February – this isn’t prime summer or holiday travel days. Even after jacking up the redemption rates, they’re not releasing any space.

  10. Is there an AA promotion every month that runs like this? Getting my CSR after Oct 31 and need to purchase some miles. Don’t know if I should wait or purchase now

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