Buy American Miles For 1.78 Cents Each

Filed Under: American, American AAdvantage
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American AAdvantage constantly has promotions on purchased miles. Well, at the moment they have a promotion that offers among the lowest costs we’ve seen on purchased miles in quite a while.

American’s Promo On Purchased Miles

Before I talk about this promotion specifically, it’s interesting to note that as of a few months ago American changed the structure of their buy miles promotion. The interface now looks different, and you have to log into your account to buy miles.

Initially the promotions worked the same way they used to, which is to say that promotions on purchased miles still had published end dates. Well, that’s no longer the case.

When I log into my American account to buy miles I get a pretty good offer, though it has no published end date, and I also can’t guarantee everyone will see the offer.

With the latest promo, American is offering the following tiered bonuses on purchased miles:

  • Buy 15,000-49,000 miles, get a 30% bonus
  • Buy 50,000 miles, get a 40% bonus
  • Buy 51,000-99,000 miles, get a 50% bonus
  • Buy 100,000-149,000 miles, get a 70% bonus
  • Buy 150,000 miles, get an 80% bonus

In order to achieve the lowest cost per mile you’d want to purchase exactly 150,000 miles. If you did that, you’d receive a total of 270,000 miles at a cost of $4,794.50, which is ~1.78 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 about as good as it gets. Typically when American offers bonuses on purchased miles, the prices range from ~1.8 to ~2.15 cents per mile.

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
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, 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 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’s latest promotion on purchased miles offers among the lowest costs per purchased mile that I’ve seen in quite a while. The catch is that the promotion doesn’t have a published end date, and I also can’t guarantee everyone will have the same offer.

Generally speaking I wouldn’t recommend speculatively buying American miles without a use in mind. However, there are plenty of cases where acquiring miles at this cost makes sense (especially for redemptions on Etihad and Qatar).

Do you plan on buying American miles with this promotion?

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Comments
  1. Careful, AA has (recently) shown if they don’t like what you’re doing they will lock your account and confiscate all miles and cancel all award flights. Without notice. Without recourse. Reader beware.

  2. Yes a very good deal; but spending $5,000 on airline miles is out of my budget. I am much more comfortable with acquiring miles here and there and everywhere over the course of time. The shopping portals are a good example.

  3. What I’ve gleaned from the move toward Web Spacial fares is AA always gives you ~8.25c per mile compared to a cash ticket on the same flight, at least for the routes that interest me. For that reason there’s no way I’d recommend buying miles without an immediate use for a Mile SAAver award you found or possibly an Upgrade Award.

  4. Used 70k AA miles last year to fly from DAC to JFK on Sri Lankan Business and Etihad Business. Not bad use of miles at 1.78 cents (even lower if getting 5x points back using credit card). Too bad about having to spend almost $4800 to get the best deal per mile.

  5. I mean, it seems AA miles are becoming less useful by the day. I’m not going to walk away from flying them however it’s not very tempting to stockpile miles for future use.

  6. Ben, I see slightly different tier in my account:

    15,000 – 69,000: 35% bonus miles

    70,000 – 99,000: 50% bonus miles

    100,000 – 149,000: 70% bonus miles

    150,000 – 150,000: 80% bonus miles

    Only reason I’d consider buying AA miles if for Qsuites, but it’s so hard to get!

  7. And as we speak, I just bought JFK-BOM QR Qsuites for 70k, and BOM-JFK by EA First for 70k, total 140k miles for a combo Business-First return ticket!

  8. I suppose I dont understand all the hate towards AA Miles. I dont find them useless, unless you are specifically referring to use on AA metal. Yes, award space and upgrades on AA metal are hard to find – which can be stupendously frustrating, but there are plenty of other uses for them on One World carriers.

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