Buy American Miles For Up To 40% Off

Filed Under: American
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American has just announced the details of their latest promotion on purchased AAdvantage miles. American’s new promotion on purchased miles is valid for purchases through May 31, 2019, so it’s valid for the entire month.

While American usually offers a bonus on purchased miles, this time around they’re offering a discount. You get a bigger discount the more miles you buy, as follows:

  • Buy 11,000-20,000 miles, get 10% off
  • Buy 21,000-25,000 miles, get 15% off
  • Buy 26,000-50,000 miles, get 20% off
  • Buy 51,000-100,000 miles, get 30% off
  • Buy 101,000-149,000 miles, get 35% off
  • Buy 150,000 miles, get 40% off

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 150,000 AAdvantage miles for $2,876.70, which is a cost of 1.92 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 on par with the best promotion they’ve offered so far this year, but not the best they’ve offered ever. For example, so far this year the promotions on purchased miles have offered pricing of 1.92-2.15 cents per mile.

So 1.92 cents per mile is quite a bit better than that. However, for context, last year they sold miles for as little as 1.72 cents each. It’s anyone’s guess when they’ll sell miles at that price again, though.

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.

However, if you are going to buy miles, ideally you’d do so when they sell them at the lowest cost possible. Right now we have the lowest cost so far in 2019, though we’re not quite at the lowest cost we’ve seen in the past 12 months.

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

Bottom line

While I wouldn’t buy American miles without a specific use in mind, there are circumstances under which it could make sense to buy them.

This is on par with the best promotion on AAdvantage miles for 2019, so if you’ve been holding off, this is a better opportunity than the previous promotions we’ve seen so far this year.

While 1.92 cents is significantly more than I (conservatively) value American miles, the reality is that I’ve been redeeming a lot of their miles lately, and I’m actually pretty low.

For example, in the past few months I’ve redeemed:

  • 75,000 AAdvantage miles for a one-way Qatar Airways business class ticket from Cape Town to Doha to Dallas
  • 70,000 AAdvantage miles for a one-way Etihad business class ticket from Male to Abu Dhabi to New York
  • 57,500 AAdvantage miles for a one-way British Airways and American business class ticket from Mykonos to London to Miami (with low surcharges)

So I keep finding exceptional uses of their miles, to the point that I’m low on miles with them. As much as there are aspects of AAdvantage that frustrate me, there’s no shortage of good deals with their miles.

Do you plan on buying American miles with this promotion?

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  1. With zero to only 1% Saver awards on international partners and 30,000 to 50,000 for each way domestic one way, coach non stop awards, I can say that despite all the dishonest rosy pictures painted by AA and the bloggers, I wouldn’t buy AA miles even if it offers for 300 % bonus.

    Total rip off! Has been like that but has gotten worse!

  2. Jim – I just booked Etihad apartments for the summer. Yes it is tough but not a dishonest rosy picture. And you don’t have to buy miles.
    Traveling for practically free in first class is not going to be easy.

  3. @Jim
    Completely agree. I crossed the Atlantic, ORDLHRORD, six times last year and did not find one C/F seat either way on AA saver. My 330,000 just sit there as the years go by. I don’t use their card anymore.

  4. Lucky,

    I bought some miles last year during their best promotion and booked two AMS to DFW tickets at good value. 57,500 and minimal fees.

    With American’s new search tool, I am only seeing availability at 110,000 to 180,000 miles one way in business class to Spain several months out.

    Needless to say I am still sitting on a few hundred thousand AA miles, and I’m hesitant to buy any more

  5. tried using AA miles to book QR and got lots of phantom availability that wasn’t bookable

  6. Like others here I find it tough to use the miles. I have ~350,000 AA miles and over 200,000 miles on BA. My GF has used hers on domestic trips (west to east coast first class for 40,000, and shorter trips for 15,000 in coach) which isn’t my first choice but it saves her money.

    I’m usually only interested in trips over to Europe and that is tough with the BA surcharges and AA’s limited availability.

  7. I had tried to find saver awards to go to Santiago from Dallas couple years ago on J for months on end. Nothing ever shows up. Finally I ended up spendings hundreds of thousands miles to get tickets. Lesson learned.

    Most of the time I find it hard to find nonstop flights. They always make you go around the world before they will let you get back home/ destination. Same with United. I much prefer using foreign programs to book my flights as most offer nonstop award flights instead of looping me from one place to another.

  8. these days, every time there is a bonus, I feel like they are about to devalue with dynamic pricing

  9. I am not interested in buying AA miles when I cannot find business saver awards to international destinations. At least DL offers a good product and reliable service and they have become my domestic carrier of choice!

  10. @chatter, you are painting dishonest rosy picture of AA miles , show me one available proof of Etihad apartment availability on any date. You mean like redeeming 70000 miles for one way non stop domestic coach? Not just no partner saver awards they don’t even have their own saver awards but they always have 70.000 miles per person one way domestic coach! Everyone airlines miles have become a scam

  11. Good luck finding space LAX to DOH.
    All the seats all full of QR pilots on holiday drinking expensive bubbly and posting on their Instagram accounts.

  12. I’ve had great luck with economy to/from Europe with AA miles recently. Been able to book a ton of flights for friends/family last year and this year (probably 14 r/t tickets, direct or one connection, most recently 3 R/t non-stop flights RDU to LHR) so I’m actually low on AA miles at the moment (150k miles is 3.3 r/t to Europe in econ in saver). This isn’t cheap enough to entice me to buy some. $0.017 probably would be, especially with CSR 3x points back as well.

    For those who haven’t had luck with AA with business saver awards, if you find a cheap cash flight in economy, you can usually get upgraded for 35k miles + $350 to business class each way if you are plat status or higher – I’ve done that a few times in the last year on AA flights international.

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