American Selling AAdvantage Miles For 1.92 Cents Each

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American has just launched their latest promotion on purchased miles, valid through November 26, 2018.

With this promotion you get a tiered bonus when you buy at least 10,000 miles in one transaction, as follows:

  • Buy 10,000-24,000 miles, get 2,500 bonus miles
  • Buy 25,000-49,000 miles, get 7,500 bonus miles
  • Buy 50,000-74,000 miles, get 22,500 bonus miles
  • Buy 75,000-99,000 miles, get 40,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 100,000-149,000 miles, get 60,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 150,000 miles, get 100,000 bonus miles

In this case you’ll receive the lowest cost per mile by purchasing exactly 150,000 miles. If you purchased that many miles you’d receive a total of 250,000 miles at a cost of $4,791.88, which is a cost of ~1.92 cents per 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 one is about average. For example, here are the ones we’ve otherwise seen this year:

  • In October, American offered miles for as little as 2.03 cents each
  • In September, American offered miles for as little as 2.08 cents each
  • In August, American offered miles for as little as 1.82 cents each
  • In June & July American offered miles for as little as 1.72 cents each
  • In May American offered miles for as little as 2.08 cents each
  • In April American offered miles for as little as 1.81 cents each
  • In February American offered miles for as little as 2.02 cents each
  • In January American sold miles for as little as 2.13 cents each

So this is better than what we’ve seen in the past couple of months, but not as good as what we saw earlier in the year.

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 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.

However, if I were to buy miles, I’d ideally like to do so at the best price of the year. For example, this summer they sold miles for about 1.72 cents each, which is about 10% less than the current price.

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
American Express® Gold Card3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
Chase Sapphire Reserve®3x Ultimate Rewards 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:

Bottom line

While I wouldn’t buy American miles without a specific use in mind, there are certainly circumstances under which it could make sense to buy them. This promotion is somewhere in the middle as far as AAdvantage promotions go — we’ve seen better prices, and we’ve also seen worse prices.

If you buy miles for 1.92 cents each and pay with The Platinum Card® from American Express (which offers 5x points that I value at 1.7 cents each), it’s like you’re really paying ~1.76 cents per mile.

For example, one of my favorite uses of American miles is redeeming them for travel in Qatar Airways Qsuites, and for just 70,000 miles you can fly one-way from the US to the Middle East or India. At a cost of ~1.76 cents per mile, that’s like paying ~$1,200 one way, which is excellent.

Do you plan on buying American miles with up to a ~67% bonus?

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Comments

  1. “American Selling AAdvantage Miles For 1.92 Cents Each When You Buy 250,000 of them”

    Fixed your headline for you.

  2. You’re being too hard on rickshaws. They are quite reliable, leave on schedule, and rarely have a mid-trip incident. They’re also economical.

  3. Will a purchase qualify as Elite Qualifying Dollars to reach status during 2018? If someone is short a few dollars (like me being $50 short of Exec Platinum) and not having any other flights already scheduled it could make sense compared to the $500 they want to pay to upgrade my status.

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