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With so many great ways to accumulate miles nowadays, flying has become the old-school way of earning them. Instead, it’s generally easier to pick up miles via credit card offers or by utilizing shopping portals and dining rewards programs. However, if these methods leave you short of your travel goals, you can also purchase miles directly from an airline, but it’s important to do the math and make sure the cost for doing so makes sense.

United is in the middle of a promotion offering up to 80% in bonus miles when you buy miles, and now American is effectively matching its competitor. From now through April 13, you can purchase American Airlines miles for as low as 1.81 cents apiece, which is actually a lower per-point price than United since American miles cost less without a discount to begin with.

You can earn up to 115,000 bonus miles when you buy or gift AAdvantage miles, but you’ll earn the maximum 77% bonus (115,000 miles) when you purchase the maximum amount (150,000 miles). But if that’s more miles than you currently need, you can earn a 60% bonus (60,000 miles) for buying 100,000 miles. You can even earn a 56% bonus (22,500 miles) for buying just 40,000 miles.

The regular price for buying miles from American is $29.50 per 1,000 miles plus a 7.5% Federal Excise Tax, which means if you just bought 1,000 miles it would cost you 3.17 cents per mile in addition to a flat $30 processing charge per purchase. But by taking advantage of the maximum 77% bonus offer, your price will drop to just 1.81 cents per mile including all taxes and fees.

Here are the thresholds where you’ll get the best bang for your buck with this promotion — the prices include all taxes and fees:

  • 10,000 + 3,500 bonus miles for $347 total (2.57 cents per mile)
  • 20,000 + 7,500 bonus miles for $664 total (2.41 cents per mile)
  • 30,000 + 15,000 bonus miles for $981 total (2.18 cents per mile)
  • 40,000 + 22,500 bonus miles for $1,299 total (2.08 cents per mile)
  • 70,000 + 40,000 bonus miles for $2,250 total (2.05 cents per mile)
  • 100,000 + 60,000 bonus miles for $3,201 total (2.00 cents per mile)
  • 150,000 + 115,000 bonus miles for $4,787 total (1.81 cents per mile)

To take advantage of the promotion, follow these steps:

  1. Visit American’s Buy, Gift, and Share Miles page.
  2. Select Buy Miles or Gift Miles (the promotion is not valid on sharing miles).
  3. Log in to your AAdvantage account.
  4. Add your credit card details and click Continue.
  5. Review the information, check the box to agree to the Terms and Conditions and click Pay Now to finalize the purchase.
  6. 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 instead of going through Points.com, so this spending should count as airfare. That means you’ll earn bonus points if you use a card with a travel or airfare category bonus. By far the best option in this category is The Platinum Card from American Express which now earns 5x on airfare, and during American’s December miles promotion, several TPG readers reported receiving the category bonus on their purchases. So that could make this a really great deal.

Other top credit cards to consider include the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s 3x Ultimate Rewards points on general travel, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold’s 3x Membership Rewards points on airfare, the Citi Premier Card and the Citi Prestige‘s 3x ThankYou points on air travel and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with 2x Ultimate Rewards points on general travel.

Should you buy American miles?

American’s 787-9 features an excellent business-class cabin.

TPG currently values American miles at 1.5 cents apiece, and at best, this promotion allows you to buy 265,000 AAdvantage miles at 1.81 cents per mile. That means you’ll still be paying more than our general valuation of AA miles. However, there are some circumstances that it can make sense. If you’re a first or business-class international flyer or routinely buy expensive flights under 500 miles then you might do better using the miles. Of course, the very best time to buy miles is when you’ve got your eye on a specific award that’s available right now and that you’re ready to redeem right now.

So for certain travelers, taking advantage of this promotion could make sense. Just remember that you can only buy 150,000 miles per calendar year and make sure to use the right card to maximize your purchase.

Will you be utilizing this buy miles promo?

Know before you go.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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