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 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, 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:
|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:
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?