Buy American Miles At The Best Price Of The Year

Filed Under: American
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In mid-June American rolled out their best promotion of the year on purchased miles, which was supposed to be valid through June 30, 2019. Well, this promotion has now been extended for over another month, and is now valid through August 2, 2019.

With this promotion, American is offering a 10% discount when you buy at least 11,000 miles in one transaction, plus a tiered bonus, as follows:

  • Buy 11,000-20,000 miles, get 2,500 bonus miles
  • Buy 21,000-50,000 miles, get 5,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 51,000-75,000 miles, get 15,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 76,000-100,000 miles, get 27,500 bonus miles
  • Buy 101,000-125,000 miles, get 45,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 126,000-149,000 miles, get 70,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 150,000 miles, get 100,000 bonus miles

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 250,000 AAdvantage miles for $4,315.05, which is a cost of ~1.73 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 the best price American has offered so far this year on purchased AAdvantage miles. Up until now they’ve offered miles for 1.92-2.15 cents each, so this is significantly lower than anything else we’ve seen prior to June.

This is also on par with the lowest cost at which American sold miles last year. So if you’ve been considering buying American miles but have been waiting for the best price, this would be a good time to buy.

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 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. If you want to look at it differently, when you factor in the value of the 5x points you’re earning for credit card spend, your real cost per purchased miles is ~1.58 cents.

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

American’s best promotion of the year on purchased miles has been extended through August 2, 2019. If you haven’t yet taken advantage of this deal but might be interested, you have several more weeks left to do so.

Generally speaking I wouldn’t recommend speculatively buying American miles without a specific use in mind.

Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sort of tempted. I don’t have many redeemable miles with American at the moment, and I consistently get good value from the miles, especially for redemptions on Etihad and Qatar. So while I’m tempted to buy miles, I probably won’t actually follow through with it, because trading cash for American miles just feels wrong.

Do you plan on buying American miles with this promotion?

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
  1. Planning on flying to SE Asia in July 2020. We want to fly either biz or first class… think this would be a worthwhile strategy? Purchase 150k miles and get 100k bonus miles? I have about 40k miles in my account. Not too sure of AA’s award availability during that time period- dont want to purchase and find we’re not gonna be able to get the seats we want. Hmm.

  2. @Carrie – AA transpacific award availability was dismal when I needed it a couple years ago and I think it only has gotten worse. Your best bet is to look at Cathay for Biz. I would be very hesitant to buy miles to use on AA a metal in future that’s for darn sure.

    Ben – any news on Qatar’s mentioning leaving one world? Another reason I’m scared to keep AA miles

  3. Good luck finding space on partners or low award pricing on aa. One of the worst currencies out there.

  4. @Nol it’s high season right now for Asia. I haven’t seen any CX First award availability. You can find CX business class and JL First on rare occasions. I’m hoping there will be some last minute availability for First in the fall when things slow down a bit.

  5. I want to echo D3KingAmerican’s comment.

    I was looking for a CX J or F award with a pretty flexible schedule, and could find NOTHING within a 1-week period for all of CX’s North America routes. No J or F seats HKG to LAX, SFO, YVR, ORD, etc.

    Some have postulated the CX F mistake fare caused them to zero out award inventory to and from N America.

    I’m sure it’s possible to find J but this is not like the good old days. Be warned.

  6. @Nol, I just booked 4 seats in Qsuites from IAD to DOH for April 2020. So, AA isn’t a total wash, you just need to be flexible and creative with your routings but the value is certainly there.

    I was 45k points short and waited until today to finish the booking, so this sale came in right on time!

  7. I’ve booked several award tickets on AA recently. Def easier if you start looking far in advance and can travel off season. But I did get something on J for the summer… Set an alert and be diligent in checking. For availability. If you’re trying to roll the dice during peak season then yah, might be tough to score.

  8. This was timely, I just picked up BUR-DFW-MAD-TLV all in J for 70k miles each, for next month, in addition to an LAX-JFK-LHR in F for 85k miles in August.

    I agree that availability has been dismal but certain routes have had some good space open up. What’s interesting is DFW-MAD-TLV wasn’t avail using miles, could only be ticketed with origin in BUR.

    Definitely seems like AA has opened up space in certain markets, but why?

  9. I have redeemed a lot of aa miles recently and am becoming more and more happy with the miles.

    I’ve booked two f tickets in dec from lax to Syd in f on qantas and three tickets in j from Vancouver to Syd for my fam of five.

    I’ve done etihad apartments, royal jordanian biz and etihad biz to Abu Dhabi (not a great product from Ord).

    USA to Europe is tough but have found more and more flights available to Australia recently (nothing on American itself).

    Also if you fly business on aa on a revenue ticket you amass miles at a ridiculous rate. I’m liking aa more and more. Just have to be flexible.

  10. Please stop promoting and showing QR’s Qsuites. Or at least display a date on the American site that shows QR Business Class available between LAX and DOH before the end of 2019.

  11. @Daniel I forgot about the CX mistake fare. Let’s see what happens towards the end of the year. The flight loads get light on some days in November and December so maybe they release some F seats. Otherwise let’s hope it gets better in 2020.

  12. @Daniel I forgot about the CX mistake fare. Let’s see what happens towards the end of the year. The flight loads get light on some days in November and December so maybe they release some F seats. Otherwise let’s hope it gets better in 2020.

  13. I topped up for two bus. class tickets (transpacific) during the campaign that ended not too long ago. Alaska MileagePlan is a much better deal (LAX-DEN) or to any of the Asia 2 destinations using Cathay for the award. Miles on Alaska are priced pretty close to that of American. However, Alaska is 50K one-way to Asia 2 destinations and American is 70K. Likewise, First is 70K using Alaska MP and 110K using American (both examples on Cathay Pacific). The only drawback with Alaska is the max purchase of 150K miles/year, but that limit still allows one to snag two last minute class tickets in “F” on Cathay, which are pretty hard to come by until the last few days before flying.

  14. Was tempted but transfered AMEX to AsiaMiles instead for QR redemption. Oneworld is pretty dismal in general relative to Star Alliance re: award space…

  15. Tried a make-believe flight to Europe with AA using miles. Every booking to CPH was by BA and not one was direct. Delta was much better with the routings. I guess it all depends on your destination.

  16. Qatar Airways business class continues to be a great use of American miles
    Show me a QSuite avail LAX/DOH.

  17. For South America Zone 2 (to Buenos Aires) the only option available for business/first is Anytime, and that is 110K miles, not 57,5 / 85K reported. Which makes the miles way less valuable. So they are really tightening rewards and basically making it worthless to use American miles for traveling there, considering that Avianca offers way better deals.

  18. AUS-CHN route or AUS-JPN routes would be quite decent with AA miles, which accounts for 40k one-way for biz and 50k one-way for first

  19. @Carrie. Since your travel is so far in the future I would wait for some time before buying the miles you need. If you wait til towards the end of 2019 there will be other offers (they are pretty much back-to-back), and by then inventory will begin to open up. It will also not affect your 2020 purchase cap either if this is an issue for you.

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