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 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 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:
|Card||Points earned on airfare spend|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent|
|Citi Prestige Card||5x ThankYou 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|
|Citi Premier℠ Card||3x ThankYou 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.
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:
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?