Nowadays American almost continuously offers bonuses on the purchase of AAdvantage miles. Their last bonus on purchased miles ended yesterday, and they launched their next bonus today. Through American’s newest promotion on purchases miles you can receive:
- Up to a 10% discount if you buy at least 20,000 miles in one transaction by February 8, 2018
- Up to 42,500 bonus miles if you buy miles by February 16, 2018 (the two promotions can be stacked, so you’ll want to buy miles by February 8)
Here’s how this tiered offer works, assuming you buy miles by February 8:
- 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 42500 bonus miles plus 10% off
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 42.5% bonus plus a 10% discount. If you do that, you’d receive 142,500 AAdvantage miles at a cost of $2,884, which is a cost of ~2.02 cents per mile. You’d pay only marginally more on a per mile basis if you bought exactly 75,000 miles.
American has also made this promotion more deceiving than in the past. In the past once you selected the number of miles you wanted to buy and logged into your account, they’d show you the all-in cost. Now they don’t show you the all-in cost (including taxes) until after you enter your credit card, which is ridiculous.
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 one is about average. American’s last promotion offered miles for as little as ~2.13 cents each, so this promotion is better. However, in December we saw a promotion offering miles for just 1.77 cents each, which was significantly better. In fairness, that was one of the best promotions we had seen in a while.
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:
|Card||Points earned on airfare spend|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent|
|American Express® Gold Card||3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||2x 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℠ Card||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.
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. Roughly two cents per mile is about average as far as American’s bonuses on purchased miles go. I’m sure we’ll see a better promotion again soon, though with a short term use in mind there’s value to be had with this promotion.
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).