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Earning airline miles using the traditional method (actually flying) is just one way to add to your account balance. While it’s increasingly harder to earn miles from flying, airlines make it relatively easy to accrue miles without flying — whether through top credit card offers or by utilizing shopping portals and dining reward programs. If these methods leave you short of your travel goals, you can also purchase miles directly from an airline.
In the wake of the American Airlines AAdvantage program switching to a revenue-based program, AA has launched a new buy miles promotion. Now through August 31, you can purchase American Airlines miles for as little as 2.04 cents apiece.
Here’s how it works: You can earn up to 85,000 bonus miles when you buy or gift AAdvantage miles. You’ll earn the maximum 57% bonus (85,000 miles) when you purchase the maximum amount of 150,000 miles. Or, you can earn up to a 55% bonus (55,000 miles) for buying 100,000 miles. You can even earn a 33% bonus (10,000 miles) for buying just 30,000 miles.
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) — before a $30 processing charge per purchase — but with the maximum 57% bonus offer, it’ll drop your price down to just 2.04 cents per mile.
Here are the sweet spots of this promotion’s bonus chart:
- 15,000 + 3,500 bonus miles for $506 total (2.74 cents per mile)
- 30,000 + 10,000 bonus miles for $981 total (2.45 cents per mile)
- 50,000 + 22,500 bonus miles for $1,616 total (2.23 cents per mile)
- 75,000 + 40,000 bonus miles for $2,408 total (2.09 cents per mile)
- 100,000 + 55,000 bonus miles for $3,201 total (2.07 cents per mile)
- 150,000 + 85,000 bonus miles for $4,787 total (2.04 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 150,000 miles per year.
- Transactions are nonrefundable and nonreversible.
- Purchased miles don’t 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 American Express Premier Rewards Gold’s 3x Membership Rewards points on airfare; the Citi ThankYou Premier and the Citi Prestige‘s 3x ThankYou points on air travel; or the Chase Sapphire Preferred with 2x Ultimate Reward points on general travel.
Is This Worth It?
In TPG’s most recent valuations, he pegs American miles at 1.5 cents apiece. Maximizing the bonus brings the price down to just 2.04 cents per mile. So — even at its best — this isn’t a great promotion. However, buying miles during this promo could make sense if you’re looking for an international one-way flight or a business/first class flight, especially on pricier routes with decent award availability.
If you’ve got an expensive flight coming up, check to see how many miles an award flight would cost and then confirm that there’s award availability. If it would be cheaper to buy miles and redeem them for the flight, put the award flights on a five-day hold before actually purchasing any miles, so that you don’t get stuck with miles you can’t use.
Also, remember that 2.04 cents per mile is the “sticker” rate. You can get an even lower effective rate when you factor in the miles you’ll earn from your purchase. If you have certain American Airlines credit cards, you’ll also earn a 10% rebate on redeemed miles — stretching the miles you redeem even further.
Even with a seemingly high bonus of 85,000 miles, the purchase rate of 2.04 cents per mile isn’t a great deal. However, making a purchase during this promo might make sense for some travelers (i.e., business/first-class travelers or those who book one-way flights) — or if you need just a few more miles to top off your account for a particular redemption.
Will you be utilizing this buy miles promo?