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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MastercardPremier Rewards Gold Card from American ExpressCiti ThankYou Premier Card

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.

American Airlines’ latest buy miles promotion just ended April 28, but the airline is back already with a new promotion. Now through May 31, you’ll save up to 40% off when you purchase AAdvantage miles. If you maximize this promotion, you’ll get miles for as cheap as 1.92 cents apiece.

Buy AA miles for as little as 1.92 cents per mile with this promotion.
Buy AA miles for as little as 1.92 cents per mile with this promotion.

You’ll get the maximum 40% off when you purchase 150,000 miles. But, you can get 30% off when buying between 51,000 and 100,000 miles.

The benefit of this promotion over typical offers is that you’ll get the savings when buying any amount of miles inside the range. Typically, the bonus is only “maximized” when you buy at the sweet spots — leaving you with a sub-optimal bonus if you’re buying a specific amount of miles needed to complete a redemption. However, you’re still going to get a better rate the more miles you purchase due to the $30 processing charge per purchase.

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). With this promotion, your price will drop to 1.92 cents per mile if you max out this offer.

Here are the discount ranges for this promotion:

  • 11,000 – 25,000 miles at 2.97-3.13 cents per mile (10% off)
  • 26,000 – 50,000 miles at 2.60-2.65 cents per mile (20% off)
  • 51,000 – 100,000 miles at 2.25-2.28 cents per mile (30% off)
  • 101,000 – 149,000 miles at 2.08-2.09 cents per mile (35% off)
  • 150,000 miles at 1.92 cents per mile (40% off)
150,000 miles cost just $2,655, before taxes.
150,000 miles cost just $2,655, before taxes.

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 non-reversible.
  • 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 this 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, with 3x Ultimate Rewards points on general travel; the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, with 3x Membership Rewards points on airfare; the Citi ThankYou Premier Card and the Citi Prestige, with 3x ThankYou points on air travel; and the Chase Sapphire Preferred with 2x Ultimate Rewards points on general travel.

Should you buy AAdvantage Miles?

If you can get an American Airlines saver award, buying miles with this promo could make sense.
If you can get an American Airlines saver award, buying miles with this promo could make sense.

Generally, no. Recently, American Airlines has had especially AAtrocious AAward AAvailability. It’s hard to find a redemption on American Airlines flights that justifies buying miles at 1.92 cents each. However, buying miles definitely makes sense in certain situations.

Need just a few more miles to complete an award booking? This is a good chance to top off your account for that redemption without having to transfer valuable Starpoints to American Airlines or put significant spend on an American Airlines co-branded card.

Or, you might be eyeing a valuable AAdvantage partner redemption — such as Qatar business class from the US to the Middle East (or beyond) starting at 70,000 miles one-way. At 1.92 cents per mile, that’s like “buying” these Qatar flights for $1,344 each — rather than the $5,000+ revenue cost . Granted, you won’t earn elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) or elite-qualifying dollars (EQDs) from these award flights.

There might be cheaper ways to top off your AAdvantage account. If you haven’t opened or closed an Citi AAdvantage card in the last 24 months, you can get a 60,000-mile sign-up bonus from the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Bottom Line

Given the current state of the AAdvantage program, it’s hard to justify buying AAdvantage miles — even at just 1.92 cents each. However, if you’re able to find premium cabin award availability, this is a good chance to snag a pile of miles for cheap.

Are you going to take AAdvantage of this buy miles promo?

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.