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Up to 50% Bonus When You Purchase AAdvantage Miles

Jan. 08, 2016
8 min read
Up to 50% Bonus When You Purchase AAdvantage Miles
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

The end of last year saw a slew of promotions for purchasing points and miles, including a 100% bonus offer from United and a 25% discount from SPG.

American was also offering a bonus of up to 60% and it even extended the promotion to January 4. On the heels of the expiration of that offer, the AAdvantage program just announced a new bonus of up to 50%, a great way to kick off the new year.

AA buy miles Jan 2016
American's newest promotion offers a bonus of up to 50% when you buy or gift miles through January 29.

Here’s how it works: Now through January 29, you can earn up to 50,000 bonus miles when you buy or gift AAdvantage miles. This is a tiered promotion, offering different bonus amounts depending on the number of miles you purchase. Here's a breakdown of these ranges:

Number of Miles Bought/Gifted

Bonus Miles

Bonus %

5,000 – 14,000


Up to 20%

15,000 – 24,000


Up to 33.3%

25,000 – 49,000


Up to 40%

50,000 – 69,000


Up to 45%

70,000 – 99,000


Up to 50%

100,000 – 150,000


Up to 50%

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 50% bonus offer, it’ll actually drop your price down to roughly 2.13 cents per mile if you purchase exactly 100,000 miles. Just remember that the $30 processing charge is per purchase, so lower mileage purchases will be significantly pricier (since it's spread out over a smaller number of miles)

The sweet spots of the bonus chart actually come when you purchase the bottom number in each range:

  • 5,000 + 1,000 bonus miles for $188.56 total (3.14 cents per mile)
  • 15,000 + 5,000 bonus miles for $505.69 total (2.53 cents per mile)
  • 25,000 + 10,000 bonus miles for $822.81 total (2.35 cents per mile)
  • 50,000 + 22,500 bonus miles for $1,615.63 total (2.23 cents per mile)
  • 70,000 + 35,000 bonus miles for $2,249.88 total (2.14 cents per mile)
  • 100,000 + 50,000 bonus miles for $3,201.25 total (2.13 cents per mile)

Here’s how to take advantage of the promotion:

  1. Visit American’s Buy, Gift, and Share Miles page.
  2. Select “Buy Miles” or “Gift Miles.”
  3. Log in to your AAdvantage account.
  4. Select the number of miles you want to purchase (the bonus miles will automatically appear if you purchase at least 5,000 miles).
  5. Add your credit card details and click Continue.
  6. Review the information, check the box to agree to the Terms and Conditions and click Pay Now to finalize the purchase.

Unlike many other travel providers, the terms and conditions indicate that the miles you purchase should “post to the designated account immediately,” which is a great thing if you are trying to lock in an award ticket with limited availability!

Keep in mind that the usual restrictions for purchasing American miles apply to this promotion, including the following:

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  • Miles may be purchased in increments of 1,000 miles up to a maximum of 150,000 miles per account 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 — 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 Premier® Card and the Citi Prestige‘s 3x points on travel; or the American Express Premier Rewards Gold’s 3x points on airfare.

You'll need to redeem even more miles to fly Cathay Pacific first class.
Cathay Pacific first class is one fantastic redemption using AAdvantage miles (or at least it will be until March).

Is It Worth It?

In TPG's most recent valuations, he pegs AAdvantage miles at 1.7 cents apiece, so given that you can drop your per mile purchase price down to 2.13 cents, it may seem like this isn't a great deal. Remember too that the AAdvantage program's award chart is undergoing a significant devaluation in March. However, if you have a specific redemption in mind for the next couple of months, it could make sense to boost your account balance through this promotion.

For example, one award being devalued significantly is Cathay Pacific first class to Asia, jumping from 67,500 miles to 110,000 miles each way, an increase of over 63%! If you can find award space on one of these flights, you'd want to purchase exactly 50,000 miles (plus the bonus of 22,500 miles) for $1,615.63. Not bad for seats that regularly top $10,000 each way!

On the other end of the spectrum, you could consider purchasing miles for an off-peak award to Europe; the cost of these tickets is only increasing 2,500 miles each way (a 12.5% increase), but the dates are becoming much more restrictive:

  • Current: October 15 - May 15
  • New (as of March 22nd): November 1 - December 10 and January 10 - March 14

If you and a friend or family member wanted to book two round-trip award tickets to Europe for next Christmas, you could purchase exactly 58,000 miles (plus the bonus of 22,500 miles) for $1,869.33, which works out to 2.32 cents per mile. Prices tend to be sky-high around the holidays, so if you can find award space, this again could be a good use of the promotion.

Of course, there are many other ways to earn American miles without flying, and one of the easiest is by opening the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first three months from account opening. You'll also receive 10% of your redeemed miles back (up to 10,000 miles each calendar year), pay no fee on your first checked bag and enjoy Group 1 boarding and a 25% discount on eligible in-flight purchases. The card does carry a $95 annual fee, though it is waived for the first year. 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.

If you have a specific redemption in mind, this could be a good time to top off your account.

Bottom Line

I'm excited to see that airlines are continuing to offer bonuses for purchasing miles in 2016, though the upcoming AAdvantage devaluation will certainly prevent me from speculatively purchasing American miles through this promotion. However, if you're planning to book an award between now and March 22, it could make sense to take advantage of the offer. Just be sure to crunch the numbers (and check award space on or through ExpertFlyer) to ensure it makes sense.

Are any of you planning on purchasing AAdvantage miles through this promotion?

Featured image by American has opened space on its transcons.