Amazing Deal: 30 American Miles Per Dollar Donated to Susan G Komen and USO

by on May 25, 2011 · 20 comments

in American

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I have to admit, there are times when I feel a little bit indulgent as a points junkie. I accrue hundreds of thousands of points and miles for pennies on the dollar and then redeem them for unbelievable trips around the world. While I wouldn’t give this gig up for anything, I do like to balance it out with good deeds. Whether its helping family or friends when they are in times of need or donating my expertise and resources to charity – I think it’s good to give back as much as possible.

When I get the chance to donate to charity and earn miles, I feel like it’s a total win-win. While I’m not a tax expert and will not give tax advice (you should consult a professional for that), I have a feeling you can write off some or all of your charity donations that earn you miles. Per the rules, “For charitable deduction purposes, each mile is valued at 2.75 cents per mile if fewer than 6,000 miles are awarded and 2.5 cents per mile if 6,000 or more miles are awarded.”

This is a great thing, because today American Airlines announced they are going to give 30 miles per dollar (registration required) donated to Susan G Komen and USO, as part of their 30th Anniversary Celebration. For those mathematically challenged, this means you’ll get the following miles per donation, with a maximum donation to each of the two charities.

$25 = 750 miles
$50 = 1,500 miles
$100 = 3,000 miles
$250 = 7,500 miles
$500 = 15,000 miles
$1,000 = 30,000 miles
$1,666.67 = 50,000 miles

Donate to USO

Donate to Susan G Komen

Remember, all miles earned count towards million miler status, so for $3,335.34 you could gain 100,000 AA miles (enough for a roundtrip flight to Europe in business class) and get 10% of the way to 1 million miles and Lifetime Gold Status – all while doing a good deed.

Offer valid on contributions made online at or May 25, 2011, through May 31, 2011. You will earn triple AAdvantage miles for each dollar that you donate during this period. Gift card purchases are not included in this promotion. Minimum $25 donation required per charitable organization. Mileage cap for a 12-month period is 50,000 AAdvantage miles per charitable organization for U.S. members; 60,000 AAdvantage miles per charitable organization for international members. AAdvantage bonus miles do not count toward elite-status qualification. Please allow up to eight weeks for the AAdvantage bonus miles to be posted to your AAdvantage account. Donations can only be accepted in U.S. dollars. All gifts are welcome; however, AAdvantage miles will only be earned for donations of at least $25 USD. AAdvantage bonus miles may post separately from AAdvantage base miles.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • TennisPlayerInLR

    Quick question. And maybe I missed this in a previous post, but the notes say that the bonus miles do not count towards elite-status qualification. So would your example still work counting towards the million-miler club? Sorry if this was already explained and I just missed it. Thanks!

  • The Points Guy

    They just mean it doesn’t count towards your current yearly elite status. It will (at least for the time being) count towards Million Mile lifetime status

  • Joshua

    And if you use your Citibank AA card to fund the donation, you’ll get even more miles, right?

  • Someone

    Wow… so if you got the BA Chase Visa Signature with the 50k signup + 50k bonus, you can donate from that card and end up with 200k miles albeit on two different airline programs.

  • Arjun

    Both links are to the same charity. since the terms say 50K miles cap, how do you earn 100K?

  • The Points Guy

    @Josh- yep, use a mileage card to earn even more miles!

    @Someone, yep!

    @Arjun, links fixed- its 2 charities

  • Kevin

    Thanks for the heads up on this! I need to run the numbers but I might jump on the max donation for both to make sure I have enough miles for 2 business class tickets to SYD (via Qantas and OW) that I’d like to use in a few months.

  • Kris

    This is great! I was already planning to donate to SGK in lieu of wedding favors, so this is perfect. (Though I do feel slightly guilty for getting something in return…)

  • Someone

    Well, I tried to do the math so someone can correct me if I’m wrong:

    Alleged total miles: 100,000
    Alleged total cost: $3,333.34 ($1,666.67 *2)
    Alleged net cost for the 100k miles: $2,500 (“each mile is valued at … 2.5 cents per mile if 6,000 or more miles are awarded” – 2.5 * 100k)

    Allegedly tax deductible: $833.34 (3,333.34 – 2,500)

    Cost per mile: 2.5 cents per mile

    Is that right?

    If you bundle this with the 100k BA/Chase card, the CPM comes out to 1.25 cents per mile

    Someone check my math!

    Disclaimer: I am not an accountant and the calculations are purely for your reading pleasure! =)

  • Brett

    Points Friends,

    I will have to say from personal experience the USO is a phenomanal organization for our serviceman overseas. I have spent time in Iraq and often the USO (privately funded) is the only place to find high speed internet service on the “large” bases. They often offer services too where you read a Dr. Seuss book while being video taped and then mail it home to your child – at zero cost. They are a great organization with great volunteers. They truly affect every Soldiers, Sailor, Marine, and Airman going in and out of Theatre.

    These donated points will have a great impact on our serviceman and woman.

    Captain, United States Army

  • The Points Guy

    Brett- my sister was in the Navy too, so I personally know how much good USO does. Thanks for all you do for our country!

  • Gene

    @ Someone — Your math is close, but not entirely correct. You need to apply your marginal tax rate to the $833.34 tax-deductible portion of the donation. For example, if your marginal tax rate is 40%, your tax savings would be $833.34 x 40% = $333.34, and your net cost for the 100,000 miles would be $3,333,34 – $333.34 = $3,000.00. So, your net cost would be exactly 3.0 cents per mile.

  • Gene

    Is it possible for person A (eligible for tax deductions and already at 2 MM lifetime) to make the contribution for person B (not eligible for tax deductions and in need of just 40,000 miles to reach 2 MM lifetime), and person A receive the tax deduction while person B receives the miles?

  • Gene

    What does “gift card purchases are not included in this promotion” mean?

  • Kevin

    @Gene: If you look around on the linked sites, they offer gift cards for sale which 10% of the sale of goes to the USO/Komen. These aren’t valid for that promotion.

    They are basically just making sure that the donation goes to the USO/Komen instead of people doing the gift cards to give a little but get most of the $ back along with a nice miles bonus.

  • Josh

    While I am not against donating to charity, if you are not getting any tax benefit (for charitable contribution), it would be a better deal if you were to just buy miles from AA’s website. This could be a very good deal if you get a tax deduction from this.
    Just for comparison, you can buy 3000 miles for $82.50 (vs. $100 by donating).

  • HikerT

    Yep, I’d donate all day long at 1-2 cpm. 3 cpm seems a litte rich. If AA told folks they’d donate $x (solve for equivalent amount going to charity) to charity for every 100,000 miles you bought at regular price would folks think that was an amazing deal? It would actually be a better deal for folks, but I doubt many would view it as an amazing deal. It’s all in the spin. :)

  • HikerT

    BTW, I think a better way to look at the cost of miles under this promoation is to compare to the benchmark – a typical donation match. If you were to donate $1,666.67 and AA matched it (instead of offering you miles) the charity would get a total of $3333.33. To the extent you were in the 40% tax bracket that donation would have an after-tax cost of $1000 Compare to donating $3333.33 via this promotion getting 100K miles. As noted above, the after-tax cost to someone in a 40% tax bracket is $3000. So compared to a “donation match”, it’s costing $2000 more to get 100K miles, which translates to 2 cpm. Personally I can obtain miles cheaper than 2 cpm (albeit not AA miles) so makes more sense for me to donate via employer match.

  • Tom

    I like the various analyses of the dollars and cents of the deal. But I took a different approach:

    I will buy a J class ticket to Europe next year (already bought one for this year). I live in Hooterville, so I have to fly to DFW then LHR or CDG. I can never find a J fare to Europe for under $3700, usually more like $4200. So… $3400 is my all in cost to donate (I rounded up to $1700 each). The charities get my $3400 cash to do good things. I get a (small) tax deduction. And I get 100,000 miles to fly to Europe next year in J. Win-Win.

    Oh, and I am 200,000 miles away from Lifetime Platinum (after this donation, 100,000). Win-Win-Win.

    And beyond the dollars and cents: I get to help out two very worthy causes.

  • Pingback: Earn 15 AA Miles Per Dollar for Donating to a Great Cause! | Travel Summary()

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