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 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.
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:
|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:
Personally I think the best credit card right now for earning American miles as part of the welcome bonus is the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®. The card is offering a welcome bonus of 70,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $4,000 within four months. The card’s annual fee is even waived the first year. You can learn more about that card here.
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?