Up to 115,000 Bonus Miles When You Purchase American Airlines Miles

Mar 29, 2016

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Earning airline miles using the traditional method (actually flying) is just one way to boost your account balance. Fortunately, airlines make it relatively easy to accrue miles without flying, whether through top credit card offers or by utilizing shopping portals and dining reward programs. You can also purchase miles directly from an airline.

In the wake of last week’s devaluation, American Airlines has announced the return of its “best buy/gift offer yet,” where you can purchase American Airlines miles for just 1.81 cents per mile.

Buy miles at the cheapest rate — and earn the biggest bonus — by buying 150,000 AA miles.

Here’s how it works: Now through April 28, you can earn up to 115,000 bonus miles when you buy or gift AAdvantage miles. You’ll earn the maximum bonus of 115,000 miles when you purchase the maximum amount of 150,000 miles. Or, you can earn up to a 60% bonus when buying either 100,000 or 125,000 miles and a ~56% bonus when purchasing as few as 40,000 miles.

The regular price of buying miles from American is ~3.17 cents per mile ($29.50 per 1,000 miles plus a 7.5% Federal Excise Tax) — before a $30 Processing Charge per purchase — but with the maximum 77% bonus offer, it’ll actually drop your price down to just 1.81 cents per mile!

Here are the sweet spots of this promotion’s bonus chart:

  • 30,000 + 15,000 bonus miles for $981 total (2.18 cents per mile)
  • 40,000 + 22,500 bonus miles for $1,299 total (2.08 cents per mile)
  • 55,000 + 30,000 bonus miles for $1,774 total (2.09 cents per mile)
  • 70,000 + 40,000 bonus miles for $2,250 total (2.05 cents per mile)
  • 85,000 + 50,000 bonus miles for $2,726 total (2.02 cents per mile)
  • 100,000 + 60,000 bonus miles for $3,201 total (2 cents per mile)
  • 125,000 + 75,000 bonus miles for $3,994 total (2 cents per mile)
  • 150,000 + 115,000 bonus miles for $4,787 total (1.81 cents per mile)
Earn 115,000 bonus miles when you maximize your mileage purchase.

Here’s how to take advantage of the promotion:

  1. Visit American’s Buy, Gift, and Share Miles page.
  2. Select “Buy Miles” or “Gift Miles”
  3. Log in to your AAdvantage account.
  4. Add your credit card details and click Continue.
  5. Review the information, check the box to agree to the Terms and Conditions and click Pay Now to finalize the purchase.
  6. Your miles should “post to the designated account immediately”

Keep in mind that the usual restrictions for purchasing American miles apply to this promotion, including the following:

  • Miles may be purchased in increments of 1,000 miles up to a maximum of 150,000 miles per year.
  • Transactions are nonrefundable and nonreversible.
  • Purchased miles don’t count toward elite status or Million Miler status.

American Airlines processes mileage transfers and purchases directly — rather than going through Points.com — so this spending counts as airfare! That means you can earn bonus points if you use a card with a travel or airfare category bonus, such as the American Express® Gold Card’s 3x points on airfare; the Citi Premier Card and the Citi Prestige‘s 3x points on travel; or the Chase Sapphire Preferred with 2x points on travel.

Business class on AA’s 777-300ER.

Is this worth it?

In TPG’s most recent valuations, he pegs American miles at 1.7 cents apiece. However, this valuation is before the American Airlines devaluation.

After the devaluation, AA miles are less valuable for business and first-class redemptions. However, if you’re only looking to redeem for first/business class, don’t write off American Airlines miles. You can still get plenty of value for certain business/first-class redemptions.

Fly one-way to London in business class for just over $1,000.
Fly one-way to London in business class for just over $1,000.

Take Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) on American Airlines’ signature 777-300ER business class. The lowest nonstop business-class fare that I can find on this route is $4,600 round-trip. After the devaluation, this route costs 115,000 AAdvantage miles + $287 taxes and fees round-trip. If purchasing miles at 1.81 cents per mile, this itinerary can be had for $2,369 — nearly half of the cash fare.

And, the value is much better if you want (i.e., for a multi-leg international trip) or need to book international one-ways. That same LAX-LHR route costs $4,321 one-way on United or Virgin’s business class — or just 57,500 AA miles + $5.60 when using AA miles. This would cost just $1,046 if buying miles at 1.81 cents per mile.

Of course, you can also take advantage of the 26 different options where award prices went down effective March 22. Thanks to this 1.81 cents per mile promotion, these award options have never been cheaper!

You can also pair your American Airlines miles (whether existing or newly-purchased) with the Citi Prestige Card to get worldwide lounge access. You’ll have access to any Admirals Club when flying on American Airlines — even flying domestically and/or in economy — and over 850 lounges worldwide through the Priority Pass Select membership. It can really come in handy!

Plus, you’ll get 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of opening your account. Thanks to the 1.6 cents per point redemption rate for American Airlines flights, this sign-up bonus will get you $640 in free AA flights. The $250 per calendar year air travel credit, hotel fourth night free and $100 Global Entry credit can easily justify the $450 annual fee.

Bottom Line

Even at very low rate of 1.81 cents per mile, buying miles speculatively doesn’t make sense in most situations. However, this might make sense for some travelers (i.e., business/first-class travelers who book one-way international flights). Plus, if you’re looking to top off your account for a specific redemption, it might make sense to utilize this very low mileage purchase rate.

What do you think on this new promotion? Will you be purchasing miles?

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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