Buy AA Miles at 2 Cents a Piece – Worth It?

by on April 3, 2012 · 4 comments

in American

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The first is a 15% discount on purchases of over 20,000 AA miles that ends at noon CDT this Thursday, April 5. The second is a 30% bonus on purchases of 20,000-40,000 miles that’s available from now through May 31, 2012. The promotion page is here, and I’ll include the Terms & Conditions in full below, but just a few things to point out first.

The promo page on

-Prices do not include taxes or the $30 per transaction processing charge.
-You must allow 72 hours for the purchased miles to post to your account.
-The bonus miles will post to your account 6-8 weeks after the end of the promotion, which means you could be waiting until August to get your bonus 30%!
-You must purchase between 20,000-40,000 miles to qualify.
-Purchased miles do not count toward elite status qualification or Million Miler status.

Is It Worth It?
As always, it depends on what you want the miles for, and whether you have time for those bonus miles to post to your account several months from now.

To keep things simple, I priced out the maximum points you can buy, 40,000, to see how much it would cost and what it could get you. With the combo of both promotions, 40,000 miles would cost you $1,035.12 factoring all the taxes and fees, and would net you 52,000 AA miles. That breaks down to paying just shy of 2 cents per mile.

While not an amazing conversion rate, it’s better than the 2.3-2.95 cents these miles usually cost, and if you’re looking to hit the 50,000 threshold this could be worth it to redeem for roundtrip business class from LAX/SFO-NYC, or a one-way business class award from the US to Europe-both awards usually cost several times $1,095.

I priced out an itinerary from LAX-JFK in August (when you’d have those miles in your account) and business class is running around $3,400. So your miles on this route would work out to a value of 6.8 cents each.

I also priced out a couple business class tickets from the US to Europe in August just to check. Boston to Madrid was coming to about $2,900 roundtrip, so $1,450 each way. That would make your points worth 2.9 cents each. More than what you paid, but not much. Just for fun, I also checked from the west coast to Paris, and found business class tickets coming in at $1,750 or so each way, so your miles would be valued at 3.5 cents each. Again, not amazing, but still okay, and since the business class fares I found were actually on the lower end of the spectrum, I suspect you can actually get much more value out of these miles if you find award availability on later dates when fares are likely to be higher.

Of all the recent American Airlines buy miles promotions, this one is the best and could be a good option if you have a specific award in mind that you need 50,000 miles for, but personally I’m not rushing to buy any.

Terms and Conditions: Transactions are nonrefundable and nonreversible. Please allow 72 hours for purchased AAdvantage® miles to post to the designated AAdvantage account. AAdvantage bonus miles will be posted 6-8 weeks following the transaction date. AAdvantage members must purchase 20,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction from the buyAAmiles® program or giftAAmilesSM program beginning 12:00 am CDT April 2, 2012, to 12:00 pm CDT April 5, 2012, to be eligible for the 15% discount. Discount applies only to mileage price and does not apply towards taxes or $30 transaction processing fee.

AAdvantage members must purchase 20,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction from the buyAAmiles® program or giftAAmilesSM program beginning 12:00 am CDT April 2, 2012, to 11:59 pm CDT May 31, 2012, to be eligible for the 30% AAdvantage bonus mile offer. Bonus mile amount applies only to AAdvantage miles purchased and does not apply towards taxes or $30 transaction processing fee. The AAdvantage bonus miles will be posted to the purchasers’ AAdvantage account. buyAAmiles and giftAAmiles transactions are limited to a combined maximum of 40,000 miles per account, per calendar year. AAdvantage bonus miles earned do not count toward the 40,000 buyAAmiles and giftAAmiles annual limit. AAdvantage miles purchased or earned through this promotion do not count toward elite-status qualification or Million MilerSM status.

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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  • Stckfigure

    Thanks to credit card signups, my wife and I are planning to go to Japan in the fall using AA miles… we have enough for business class, and figure that’s good enough for us, but it looks like buying miles at $.02 would cost us $500 each r/t to upgrade to first. That doesn’t seem like a bad deal at all… but will trying to land F seats make it harder for us to find tickets, particularly since we’d like to fly on JAL?

  • noobtraveler

    Good points on the transfer ratios. Thanks for doing the quick math on these for us. I totally agree that the Chase Ultimate Rewards program crushes it when it comes to transfers – they are setting the bar.

  • PJ

    i would just click on the application on AA 40K to pocket the ez 30k with $750 spend /4months ;
    if you need absolutely to travel on business class paying cash for rack business price is the last thing you want to do if you are paying out of your personal pocket. any ticket on points no matter how you get it is cheaper

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