Who Should and Shouldn’t Buy Miles Through American Airlines’ Latest Promotion

Oct 9, 2018

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American Airlines launched a new buy miles promotion offering up to 42,500 bonus miles. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, even when maximized, this bonus drops the purchase rate of AAdvantage miles to 2.25 cents per mile. If this sounds like a pretty high rate to buy AA miles, well, it is — especially when you compare it to TPG’s valuation, which pegs AAdvantage miles at 1.4 cents apiece.

If you’re looking to boost your AAdvantage account, though, skip this promotion and consider taking advantage of one of the options below.

Wait for a Better Bonus

AAdvantage members can only buy 150,000 miles per calendar year. For those that get enough value out of their miles to justify buying miles each year, this promotion isn’t the one you should use if you want to stock up. That’s because this promotion offers just a mediocre amount of bonus miles.

Not only is this promotion’s purchase rate mediocre at 2.25 cents per mile, but you’ll only end up with a maximum of 142,500 miles if you want to buy miles at this rate. If you buy the maximum number of miles (150,000), your purchase rate actually goes up to 2.49 cents per mile and you’ll only get 192,500 total miles at this rate.

For comparison’s sake, if you purchased 150,000 miles in the promotion that ran through the end of August, you would have gotten a bonus of 85,000 miles in addition to a 10% discount — meaning you’d have walked away with 235,000 miles at 1.84 cents per mile.

There’s still time left in the year for those looking to buy AA miles on the cheap, so this certainly isn’t the promotion on which to waste your 150,000-mile purchase limit.

Sign up for a Credit Card

The lowest-hanging fruit for AAdvantage miles is to sign-up for a credit card. Unlike most airlines/hotels, AA has partnerships with two different issuers: Citi and Barclays, meaning you can sign up for (at least) one product from each.

Citi generally has a rule that you can only earn a sign-up bonus if you haven’t opened or closed a Citi AAdvantage credit card in the last 24 months. So, make sure to check your history carefully. Here are the top Citi options:

  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard: 60,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
  • Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard: 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $5,000 in three months — plus Admirals Club access for up to 33 people.
  • CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard: 70,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $4,000 in the first four months.

Who is This Offer Good For?

If you’re tapped out of AA credit card options and find yourself just shy of a redemption, this promotion could help you get there at a decent rate. Here are some examples:

  • 20,000 miles + 7,000 bonus miles = 27,000 total miles for $669 total (2.48 cents per mile)
  • 40,000 miles + 15,000 bonus miles = 55,000 total miles for $1,304 total (2.37 cents per mile)
  • 60,000 miles + 22,500 bonus miles = 82,500 total miles for $1,938 total (2.35 cents per mile)

Plus, buying miles can be a quick and easy way to knock out minimum spending requirements on a credit card — especially one that gives a bonus on airfare purchases.

How to Buy AA Miles

  1. Visit American’s Buy, Gift, and Share Miles page.
  2. Select the number of miles you’d like to buy.
  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 non-reversible.
  • Purchased miles don’t count toward elite status or Million Miler status.

Which Credit Card to Use

American Airlines processes mileage transfers and purchases directly (instead of going through Points.com), so this purchase will code as airfare on your statement. That means that you’ll earn bonus points if you use a card with a travel or airfare category bonus. By far the best option in this category is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which earns 5x on airfare when booked directly through airlines or Amextravel.com. And several TPG readers reported receiving this category bonus on their purchases.

Other cards to consider include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, with 3x Ultimate Rewards points on general travel; the American Express® Gold Card, with 3x Membership Rewards points on airfare when booked directly with airlines or through Amextravel.com; the Citi Premier Card with 3x ThankYou points on air travel; and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with 2x Ultimate Rewards points on general travel.

Featured image by JT Genter / The Points Guy.

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