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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 and dining reward programs. You can also purchase miles directly from an airline.
Today, American Airlines released a new buy miles promotion to celebrate the AAdvantage program’s 35th anniversary: 35% off and up to 15,000 bonus miles when you buy AA miles. The promotion launches today and runs through June 1.
From top to bottom, this offer isn’t nearly as good as AA’s recent buy miles promotion. But, if you missed out on that promotion and need to generate some miles for an upcoming redemption, this offer is still a decent option. Of course, you can’t beat free AAdvantage 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 bonus offer, it’ll actually drop your price down to just 1.89 cents per mile.
Here are the sweet spots of this promotion’s bonus chart:
- 15,000 miles for $339 (2.26 cents per mile)
- 135,000 + 5,000 bonus miles for $2,813 (2.01 cents per mile)
- 150,000 + 15,000 bonus miles for $3,122 (1.89 cents per mile)
If you need a few miles to top off your account for a redemption, you can buy between 15,000-100,000 miles (in increments of 1,000) for a rate ranging from 2.26 cents per mile down to 2.09 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 points on airfare; the Citi Premier Card and the Citi Prestige‘s 3x points on travel; or the Chase Sapphire Preferred with 2x points on travel.
Is this worth it?
In TPG’s most recent valuations, he pegs American miles at just 1.5 cents apiece, so this promotion may seem like it’s not worth considering further. However, you can get plenty of value from American Airlines miles redemptions that might make a 1.89 cent rate worth it.
Take Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) in American Airlines’ signature 777-300ER business class. The lowest nonstop business-class fare that I can find on this route is $4,609 round-trip. To redeem for this route, you’d have to pay 115,000 AAdvantage miles + $287 taxes and fees round-trip. If purchasing miles at 1.89 cents per mile, this itinerary can be had for $2,461 — nearly half of the cash fare — assuming you can find low-level award availability, of course.
And, the value is much better if you want or need to book international one-ways (i.e., for a multi-leg international trip). That same LAX-LHR route costs $4,321 one-way on United or Virgin’s business class — or just 57,500 AA miles + $5.60 when using AA miles. This would cost just $1,092 if buying miles at 1.89 cents per mile.
Like to spread your miles further by flying economy? Make sure to take advantage of the 26 different options where award prices went down effective March 22.
You can also pair your American Airlines miles (whether existing or newly purchased) with the Citi Prestige Card to get worldwide lounge access. You’ll have access to any Admirals Club when flying on American Airlines — even flying domestically and/or in economy — and over 850 lounges worldwide through the Priority Pass Select membership. It can really come in handy!
Plus, you’ll get 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within three months of opening your account. Thanks to the 1.6 cents per point redemption rate for American Airlines flights, this sign-up bonus will get you $640 in free AA flights. The $250 per calendar year air travel credit, 4th Night Free hotel benefit and $100 Global Entry credit can easily justify the $450 annual fee.
Even at low rate of 1.89 cents per mile, buying miles speculatively doesn’t make sense in most situations. However, this might make sense for some travelers (i.e., business/first-class travelers who book one-way international flights). Plus, if you’re looking to top off your account for a specific redemption, it might make sense to utilize this mileage promotion.