American Airlines Selling Miles For 1.79 Cents Each

Filed Under: American, American AAdvantage
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This isn’t the time to buy miles speculatively. However, for those essential travelers looking for last minute flights, or for those planning way in advance, buying miles at a discount could be worth considering. That’s why I’ll keep covering deals to buy points as they arise, even though I think a vast majority of people shouldn’t be buying miles right now.

American AAdvantage constantly has promotions on purchased miles. Yesterday American’s previous promotion on purchased miles ended, and today they’ve launched a new promotion.

American’s Promo On Purchased Miles

Before I talk about this promotion specifically, it’s worth noting that nowadays American Airlines requires you to log into your account to see what offer is available on purchased miles. Therefore it’s possible that some offers are targeted, and not everyone may see the same offers.

With the latest promo, American is offering the following tiered discount and bonus on purchased miles through May 31, 2020:

  • Buy 2,000-14,000 miles, get 15% off
  • Buy 15,000-29,000 miles, get 5,000 bonus miles plus 5% off
  • Buy 30,000-49,000 miles, get 15,000 bonus miles plus 5% off
  • Buy 50,000-69,000 miles, get 25,000 bonus miles plus 5% off
  • Buy 70,000-120,000 miles, get 50,000 bonus miles plus 5% off
  • Buy 121,000-149,000 miles, get 80,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 150,000 miles, get 100,000 bonus miles 3% off

Am I the only one who finds the way the discounts are structured to be strange? You get a 5% discount for some increments, no discounts on other increments, and 3% discounts on others? I guess they’re just trying to find new ways to market the same deal.

One other cool aspect to this promotion is that American is donating one mile to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for every mile purchased.

Ordinarily in order to achieve the lowest cost per purchased mile you’d max out this promotion, but that’s not the case here. The best deal is to purchase exactly 70,000 miles pre-bonus. If you did that, you’d receive a total of 120,000 miles at a cost of ~1.79 cents per AAdvantage mile.

As a point of comparison, if you maxed out the promotion you could receive a total of 250,000 miles at a cost of $4,650.66, which is ~1.82 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, generally they charge ~1.8-2.15 cents per mile. This current promotion is right at the bottom of that pricing spectrum. The one exception is that in early April American sold miles for ~1.6 cents each, which is the lowest cost I recall seeing in a very long time.

Is Buying American Miles A Good Deal?

Personally I value American AAdvantage miles at 1.5 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 US under the current program:

Contiguous 48 U.S. To:Business ClassFirst Class
Contiguous 48 U.S. States 25,00050,000
Canada & Alaska30,00055,000
Hawaii40,00065,000
Caribbean27,50052,500
Mexico27,50052,500
Central America27,50052,500
South America Zone 130,00055,000
South America Zone 257,50085,000
Europe57,50085,000
Middle East / India70,000115,000
Africa75,000120,000
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, last year 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 spending. Therefore you’ll want to consider using one of the following cards for your purchase, since they offer the following bonus miles for airfare:

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 has just launched their latest promotion on purchased miles, which offers miles at a decent cost, though it’s not as good of a deal as the promotion we saw in early April.

Generally speaking I wouldn’t recommend speculatively buying American miles without a use in mind, in particular given the uncertainty right now.

However, this promotion is at least worth being aware of, and everyone can decide for themselves if it makes sense.

Do you plan on buying American miles with this promotion?

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Comments
  1. Am I calculating something wrong? It seems buying 70K miles is the best deal as you get 120K miles for a price of around 1.72 cents/each…

  2. This is an “upcycled” post with some stale info; in addition to the 70k spot the previous commenters found, there’s a reference to “early April” that I presume is talking about a different year.

  3. @ Christopher Smith — Nope, I was talking about this year. The best price was indeed early April of this year.

  4. The only times I have ever purchased miles was in a last ditch effort to keep my previously earned miles from expiring the next day. Buying miles is a form of loaning money to the airline. Why would I want to give American an interest free loan?

  5. So American is trying to DUMP their miles on the public for .017 before they cut a deal with Citi Bank and unload points for half a penny per point? They are not doing anyone any favors. They just want cold hard cash. When they lower the price to one penny per point for the public I might consider buying. Otherwise, No Deal.

  6. does anyone know what the current situation is with booking EY flights online using AA miles?
    I cant seem to get the AA website to show any EY flights

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