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Buying American and US Airways Miles Promotions- Worth It?

Feb. 02, 2015
5 min read
American Airlines
Buying American and US Airways Miles Promotions- Worth It?
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

The next buy miles promotion from American Airlines and US Airways has arrived. The last one (back in January) offered a bonus on purchased miles of up to 50%, and the one before that (in November) offered up to a 56.25% bonus. This one is slightly different.

AA buy miles bonus discount
The latest buy miles promotion from American Airlines and US Airways is here.

Both airlines are offering this promotion separately, so you can take advantage of whichever one is your preferred program with these links to the respective sale pages:

Both airlines are offering a discount of 10% on purchased miles now through February 9, 2015. On top of that, through March 3, 2015, you can earn up to 30,000 bonus miles depending on how many you purchase. The bonus breaks down as follows:

  • Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get 7,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 40,000-59,000 miles, get 15,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 60,000-74,000 miles, get 23,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 75,000-100,000 miles, get 30,000 bonus miles

The cost per mile with January’s 50% bonus was 2.25 cents (though you had to buy 70,000 miles to max it out), and it was just 1.88 cents with the November promo.

With this current promo, the maximum bonus you can get is 40% when you buy 75,000 miles and get 30,000 bonus miles. That would cost you $1,991.25 plus a $30 processing fee and 7.5% excise tax, for a total of 105,000 miles at $2,170.59. That means your miles will cost about 2.07 cents apiece.

The total cost if you max out the bonus with 105,000 miles.
The total cost if you max out the bonus with 105,000 miles.

Per the terms and conditions, your frequent flyer account must be at least 12 days old in order to be eligible for the US Airways promo, and 14 days for the AA promo. Two other things to note: US Airways transactions are processed through, so they are not eligible for travel category or US Airways spending bonuses if you have a card like the US Airways Premier World Mastercard. However, American Airlines processes its own mileage purchases, so if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can earn 2x points per $1, or if you have a co-branded Citi AAdvantage card like the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard or the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard, you can earn 2x AAdvantage miles per $1. The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Should You Buy?

As usual, the question is whether you should buy miles at these rates, and if so, which miles should you buy?

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At 2.07 cents each, this probably is not a good deal to buy miles speculatively. However, if you have a specific redemption in mind where you're getting well above that value per mile, and you're fairly certain you can book the award you want, this could be worth it.

Also note that, though the AAdvantage and Dividend frequent flyer programs will combine some time in the second quarter of 2015, there are still some major differences between the two programs. For example, American Airlines currently lets you book one-way awards while US Airways requires awards to be round-trip.

There are also some specific redemptions where the mileage requirements differ greatly between the two programs. Here are the US Airways and American Airlines award charts. There are still discrepancies between the two, such as US Airways only requiring 110,000 miles round-trip in business class from North America to South Africa or the South Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand), while AAdvantage requires 150,000 to South Africa and 125,000 to Australia.

Buying miles could be worthwhile if you're going to use them on a high-value redemption like Cathay Pacific first class.

North America to Hong Kong in first class would cost you 135,000 American miles, but just 120,000 US Airways miles. Check out my post on the Top 11 Awards to Book with US Airways Miles Now That It Is a Member of Oneworld to see some other great uses for Dividend Miles.

On the other hand, American allows one-way awards and US Airways still does not, and American offers some off-peak awards to Europe, South America, Asia and Hawaii with both a lot of availability and a sizable travel period. US Airways has off-peak awards on different dates from the continental US and Canada to the Caribbean and from North America or Hawaii to Europe. Find out more about both here.

As always, think about what you're actually going to use the miles for and whether you're getting a good value from them, and then decide from there. Also remember that both airlines will let you hold awards for a few days, so you can check on award availability before committing to a purchase.

Do you plan to buy miles through either promotion (or both)? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.