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This is a promo I’ve been meaning to cover for a couple days now, and I know a lot of readers had questions about it, so here’s the lowdown on the American Airlines 50% buy miles bonus.
Between now and December 31, 2012, American Airlines has raised the annual limit of purchased miles per account from 40,000 to 60,000 with a potential 50% bonus on purchased miles.
Here’s how the bonus breakdown works:
So you can get a 50% bonus on purchases of 20,000, 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 and 60,000 miles, but your bonus goes down in the intervals between tens of thousands of miles since it rises incrementally with the number of miles you purchase – so for instance, you’d only be getting a 36% bonus if you purchased 59,000 miles.
Ordinarily, American miles cost 2.95 cents each plus a $35 per-transaction fee. So if you were to buy just 5,000 miles, you’d end up with 6,500 miles for a total of $182.50, or 2.8 cents per miles.
If you were to go full out and buy the maximum 60,000 miles for the 50% bonus, you’d end up with 90,000 miles for a total cost of $1,685. That’s a CPM of 1.87 cents. Not too bad, and actually slightly better than the 1.88 cents per mile you can get with the current US Airways 100% buy miles bonus.
That said, I’d rarely counsel you to buy miles speculatively unless you have a specific, imminent redemption in mind and want to pad your mileage account for it.
Keep in mind, a lot of those plum American redemptions start at 100,000 miles roundtrip, like business class to Europe, southern South America, or Japan require 100,000 miles at the lowest level, and many redemptions are higher than that. On the other hand, you could get from North America to Peru in business class for 60,000 miles, which, with this promo, would cost you just $1,130 to purchase 40,000 miles and get a total of 60,000.
A ticket from Miami to Lima, for instance, is going for $2,071, so you’d be saving almost $1,000 by buying miles. And don’t forget, you could also redeem those miles for a flight on American’s Oneworld partner, LAN, where tickets on routes from North America to Peru regularly go for $5,000-$7,000, meaning some potentially huge savings for you.
As with any buy miles promo, do the math and figure out if the option to buy miles makes more sense than trying to rack them up any other way, and whether the redemptions you’re interested in using those miles for make sense in terms of value. Still, it’s nice to see yet another bonus on purchased miles out there since it presents an additional option for those looking for ways to score some extra miles before the end of the year.