American’s December Promo On Purchased Miles

Filed Under: American, American AAdvantage
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American AAdvantage constantly has promotions on purchased miles. Yesterday their “Black Friday” promo on purchased miles ended, which was the best promo of the year for buying American miles. With that, you could buy miles for as little as 1.78 cents each.

American has now rolled out their next promotion on purchased miles, valid through the end of the year (and beyond).

American’s Promo On Purchased Miles

Through January 5, 2020, American is offering a bonus on purchased miles as long as you buy at least 12,000 miles in one transaction.

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.

Presumably this means that we could eventually see targeted offers on purchased miles.

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

  • Buy 12,000-49,000 miles, get a 30% bonus
  • Buy 50,000-99,000 miles, get a 50% bonus
  • Buy 100,000-150,000 miles, get a 70% bonus

In order to achieve the lowest cost per mile you’d want to purchase anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 miles before the bonus, since that gets you the 70% bonus. If you purchased 150,000 miles you’d receive a total of 255,000 miles at a cost of $5,288.20, which is ~2.07 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 among the highest costs we’ve seen this year. So far this year American has sold miles for anywhere between ~1.8 and ~2.15 cents per mile, so paying ~2.07 cents per mile is at the high end of that.

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.

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

While American’s Black Friday promo on purchased miles offered among the lowest costs of the year, their new promo offers among the highest costs of the year.

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).

If you’re going to pick up American miles, I’d ideally wait until there’s a better bonus, but if you have upcoming travel plans and buying miles now would help, it could still make sense.

Do you plan on buying American miles with this promotion?

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  1. If you buy 100,000 miles the cost/mile, including taxes and fees is 1.98 cents, not 2.07 cents.

    It is also the last opportunity for calendar year 2019 to top off your account.

  2. Hi Ben

    I am stuck.. I require 170k AA points to redeem on a Qatar Airways flight ( Sydney to Berlin J class). I currently have zero points in my balance. I understand the limit is 150k per year. Any suggestions ??

  3. @John
    Do you have any QF points you could use for half the itinerary? I assume you have purchased the full 150000 AA miles for 2020 calendar year already?

  4. I only have 60k which won’t be enough to half the journey .

    When is it likely AA will have their next bonus promotion . If I get 100k points , it might be enough for me to get the extra 70k for the whole

  5. @John~ AA have almost back-to-back promos. Some are better than others, but if you have an immediate need for the miles you should jump on the next one! The December promo ended 5th Jan. Should be another one soon.
    Who is the 60000 points/miles you mention with?

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