Hard Pass: American’s New Promo On Purchased Miles

Filed Under: American
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American AAdvantage constantly has promotions on purchased miles. Over the summer we saw some of American’s best prices of the year on purchased miles. Well, American has just rolled out their latest promo on AAdvantage miles, and it’s not nearly as good, unfortunately.

American Offering Up To 35% Discount On Purchased Miles

Through September 30, 2019, American is offering up to a 35% discount when you purchase miles. The structure of this promotion is rare because American almost always offers a bonus on purchased miles and sometimes a discount to go along with it, but this time around they’re just offering a discount.

The discount being offered with this promotion is tiered, as follows:

  • Buy 15,000-29,000 miles, get 15% off
  • Buy 30,000-49,000 miles, get 20% off
  • Buy 50,000-74,000 miles, get 25% off
  • Buy 75,000-99,000 miles, get 30% off
  • Buy 100,000-150,000 miles, get 35% off

In order to achieve the lowest cost per mile you’d want to purchase anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 miles. For example, if you purchased 150,000 miles you’d pay $3,116.43, which is a cost of ~2.08 cents per AAdvantage 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.

As far as American’s bonuses and discounts on purchased miles go, this is among the worst price we’ve seen this year. So far this year American has sold miles for anywhere from ~1.8-2.15 cents per mile, so paying 2.08 cents per mile is on the high side.

Is Buying American Miles A Good Deal?

Personally I value American AAdvantage miles at 1.4 cents each. While American significantly devalued their award chart a few years back, there are still some excellent uses of their miles, especially for travel in business class on partner airlines.

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
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 instances where it could make sense to pick up miles during a promotion with a short term use in mind.

For example, recently I redeemed 75,000 AAdvantage miles for a one-way Qatar Airways business class ticket from Cape Town to the US, which I consider to be a spectacular value.

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
Citi Prestige Card5x ThankYou points per dollar spent
American Express® Gold Card3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
Chase Sapphire Reserve®3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
Citi Premier℠ Card3x ThankYou 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.

Other Great Ways To Earn American Miles

There are lots of great ways to earn American miles aside from outright buying them. At the moment there are excellent welcome bonuses on co-branded American Airlines AAdvantage Cards, as follows:

Current American AAdvantage Offers

Buy American Miles Summary

American’s newest promotion on purchased miles is one of the worst we’ve seen so far this year, as the lowest cost is well over two cents per mile.

Generally speaking I wouldn’t recommend speculatively buying American miles without a specific use in mind, especially when you’re not getting the best price of the year. However, there are still some cases where it could make sense to buy American miles with a specific short term use in mind, especially for redemptions on Etihad and Qatar.

Do you plan on buying American miles with this promotion?

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  1. Lol, just got a mailer for my wife…Plat Pro status for free through Dec 13. She hasn’t flown AA in over 2 years. And her flights for the remainder of the year are already booked. Not sure what AA was trying to do in such a limited window but this doesn’t do any good.

  2. Joke: Qatar Airways business class continues to be a great use of American miles

    Lucky, please remove this foolish tag.

  3. @Mark3 if you can do better than 70K somewhat miles plus $15 in taxes for ultra long haul in Q Suites then please enlighten us.

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