If you’re looking to stock up on AAdvantage miles, now’s a good time to do so. American Airlines just launched a new buy miles promotion, giving AAdvantage members the opportunity to score up to 100,000 bonus miles now through Apr. 30. When maximized, you can buy miles as low as 1.92 cents each.
First, Why Should I Ever Buy Miles?
Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: Buying miles makes sense only for certain travelers. It’s obviously much better to earn AA miles for free through credit card sign-up bonuses. If you’re looking for good options, the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is offering a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus for spending $2,500 in the first three months.
Or, if you have a small business, you can apply for the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard to get up to 60,000 AAdvantage miles — 50,000 AA miles after making $3,000 in purchases in first three months and another 10,000 AA miles after making a total of $10,000 in purchases in first 12 months of account opening.
However, if you’ve tapped out your credit card options for generating AAdvantage miles — like many of us at TPG have — you might consider buying miles for the right redemptions. What are those redemptions? Generally high-cost domestic flights you can score for cheap with miles, domestic itineraries bookable using reduced mileage awards, economy web special deals and business/first class international awards.
Here are just a few examples of the prices you’d effectively be paying for award flights when buying points at the cheapest 1.92 cent per mile rate through this buy miles promotion:
- Domestic Economy Web Special awards for just $96 each way (no basic economy restrictions on award tickets either) when buying at 1.92 cents per mile.
- Caribbean Economy Web Special awards for just $96 each way (no basic economy restrictions on award tickets either) when buying at 1.92 cents per mile.
- Domestic nonstop flights less than 500 miles for $144 each way (again, no basic economy restrictions) when buying at 1.92 cents per mile.
- Domestic reduced mileage awards for $168 each way (still no basic economy restrictions) when buying at 1.92 cents per mile.
- Qatar Qsuites from Europe to Middle East for $815 each way when buying at 1.92 cents per mile.
- American Airlines business class to Europe for $1,103 each way when buying at 1.92 cents per mile.
- Cathay Pacific business class to Asia for $1,342 each way when buying at 1.92 cents per mile.
- Qatar business class to Middle East for $1,342 each way when buying at 1.92 cents per mile.
All of these rates are before factoring in the 10% mileage rebate that AAdvantage Platinum Select and Barclays Aviator Red cardholders get, up to 10,000 miles each year. This rebate reduces the net price of these award flights, leading you with an even better effective purchase rate. Note that this rebate is being eliminated as of May 1, 2019 — so now’s the time to max out the benefit.
Details of This Promotion
The regular price for buying miles from American is 3.17 cents per mile ($29.50 per 1,000 miles, plus a 7.5% federal excise tax). With this promotion, your price will drop to 1.92 cents per mile if you max out the offer.
While 1.92 is better than the most-recent offer of 2.25 cents per mile, this isn’t the best offer that AA has offered this year. It started the year with a promotion carried over from 2018 letting members buy miles for 1.77 cents each. It’s unknown when we will see a similar bonus, so it’s worth taking advantage of this promotion now if you have a good use for the miles. But this promotion isn’t a great one for stocking up on a large amount of miles.
That said, one sweet spot of this offer is the ability to snag smaller amounts of miles for a reasonable price. The price for buying miles drops to 2.11 cents each when buying 62,000 miles (after bonus) for $1,306. That can be a nice purchase if you need to top off an account for an awesome redemption — like Qatar Qsuites to South Africa for just 75,000 AA miles each way.
You’ll get the maximum 100,000 bonus miles — netting the 1.92 cents per mile purchase rate — when you purchase 150,000 miles. Since the bonuses are flat amounts awarded at set purchases, here are the tiered sweet spots of this promotion’s bonus chart:
- 10,000 miles + 4,000 bonus miles for $355 (2.53 cents per mile)
- 20,000 miles + 7,500 bonus miles for $672 (2.44 cents per mile)
- 30,000 miles + 15,000 bonus miles for $989 (2.20 cents per mile)
- 40,000 miles + 22,000 bonus miles for $1,306 (2.11 cents per mile)
- 55,000 miles + 30,000 bonus miles for $1,782 (2.10 cents per mile)
- 70,000 miles + 40,000 bonus miles for $2,258 (2.05 cents per mile)
- 85,000 miles + 55,000 bonus miles for $2,733 (1.95 cents per mile)
- 120,000 miles + 75,000 bonus miles for $3,843 (1.97 cents per mile)
- 150,000 miles + 100,000 bonus miles for $4,795 (1.92 cents per mile)
How to Buy AA Miles
To take advantage of the promotion, follow these steps:
- Visit American’s Buy, Gift, and Share Miles page.
- Select the number of miles you’d like to buy.
- Log in to your AAdvantage account.
- Add your credit card details and click Continue.
- Review the information, check the box to agree to the Terms and Conditions and click Pay Now to finalize the purchase.
- 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 processing purchases through Points.com — so this spending will code as an airfare purchase. That means you’ll earn bonus points if you use a card with a travel or airfare category bonus.
The best two options in this category are The Platinum Card® from American Express — which earns 5x on airfare when booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com (we have confirmation from several TPG readers who received this category bonus on their purchases) — and the Citi Prestige Card, which also now offers 5x on airfare.
Other top credit cards to consider include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, with 3x Ultimate Rewards points on general travel (excluding $300 travel credit); the American Express® Gold Card, with 3x Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with airlines or ; 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.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about American Airlines’ “buy miles” promotions, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for the latest offer. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older deals below.