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Update: AA has extended its buy miles promo through January 4, 2016. Additionally, the airline is now offering a 115,000-mile bonus when you purchase 150,000 miles, which works out to a total of 265,000 miles for $4,786.88, or just 1.8 cents apiece.
Earning airline miles using the traditional method (actually flying) is just one way to boost your account balance. Fortunately, airlines make it relatively easy to accrue miles without flying, whether through top credit card offers or by utilizing shopping portals. You can also purchase miles directly from an airline.
While the American bonus announced last month has already ended, United’s bonus of up to 85% when you purchase miles still runs through December 14. This week, American Airlines joined the party by announcing its “best offer of the year” for purchasing miles.
Here’s how it works: Now through November 30, you can earn up to 75,000 bonus miles when you buy or gift AAdvantage miles. You’ll earn the maximum bonus of 75,000 miles when you purchase the maximum amount of 125,000 miles. However, you can also earn the 60% bonus when buying 100,000 miles and a ~56% bonus when purchasing as little as 40,000 miles.
The regular price of buying miles from American is ~3.17 cents per mile ($29.50 per 1,000 miles plus a 7.5% Federal Excise Tax) — before a $30 Processing Charge per purchase — but with the maximum 60% bonus offer, it’ll actually drop your price down to roughly 2 cents per mile!
Here are the sweet spots of the bonus chart:
- 40,000 + 22,500 bonus miles for $1,299 total (2.08 cents per mile)
- 55,000 + 30,000 bonus miles for $1,774 total (2.09 cents per mile)
- 70,000 + 40,000 bonus miles for $2,250 total (2.05 cents per mile)
- 85,000 + 50,000 bonus miles for $2,726 total (2.02 cents per mile)
- 100,000 + 60,000 bonus miles for $3,201 total (2 cents per mile)
- 125,000 + 75,000 bonus miles for $3,994 total (2 cents per mile)
Here’s how to take advantage of the promotion:
- Visit American’s Buy, Gift, and Share Miles page.
- Select “Buy Miles” or “Gift Miles”
- 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 125,000 miles per year.
- Transactions are nonrefundable and nonreversible.
- Purchased miles do not count toward elite status or Million Miler status.
American Airlines processes mileage transfers and purchases directly — rather than going through Points.com — so this spending counts as airfare! That means you can earn bonus points if you use a card with a travel or airfare category bonus, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred with 2x points on travel; the Citi ThankYou Premier and the Citi Prestige‘s 3x points on travel; or the American Express Premier Rewards Gold’s 3x points on airfare.
Is this worth it?
In TPG’s most recent valuations, he pegs American miles at 1.7 cents apiece. The maximum 60% bonus could bring your price down to just under 2 cents per mile, so this promo would not seem worth it at first. However, if you have specific redemptions in mind, it could make sense to purchase specific amounts to top off your account.
At the 2-cents-per-mile rate, redeeming for a round-trip domestic economy award at 25,000 miles would be equivalent to paying ~$500 for the flight. While this is a bit steep, using the AAdvantage Off Peak awards, a 40,000-mile round-trip to Europe in economy would cost just ~$800 before taxes and fees.
On the luxury end of the spectrum, you could redeem 135,000 AAdvantage miles to fly the spectacular Cathay Pacific first class round-trip between the US to Asia. Considering Cathay Pacific first class is currently running $29,215 round-trip from NYC to Hong Kong, you’d be getting about 22 cents of value per mile!
If you’re looking for other ways to boost your AAdvantage account, you could also consider applying for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard. The card is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Buying 50,000 miles (35,000 + 15,000 bonus miles) through this mileage promotion would cost you ~$1,140. Even at 2 cents per mile, you’d save ~$1,000 by earning 50,000 miles through the credit card sign-up bonus rather than purchasing them!
This promotion isn’t good for purchasing miles speculatively, but it could be great if you need miles for a specific redemption — especially if you’re looking to book a business or first-class award. American has some incredible redemption opportunities in its program, and you may be able to snag miles for as low as 2 cents apiece using this promotion.
What do you think on this new promotion? Will you be purchasing miles? While Citi announced some negative changes to this card back in July — including a lower sign-up bonus, the elimination of Admirals Club access and the end of the free rounds of golf benefit — one of its most valuable perks still remains, which is the 4th Night Free perk. This benefit alone can save you thousands of dollars a year if you use it to its full advantage.
While Citi announced some negative changes to this card back in July — including a lower sign-up bonus, the elimination of Admirals Club access and the end of the free rounds of golf benefit — one of its most valuable perks still remains, which is the 4th Night Free perk. This benefit alone can save you thousands of dollars a year if you use it to its full advantage.