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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express,Chase Freedom Unlimited
Usually buying miles provides a terrible return on value. Standard rates for buying airline miles can exceed 3 cents per mile. Meanwhile, TPG valuations for most airline miles fall between 1.2 (Delta SkyMiles) and 1.9 (Alaska MileagePlan). Yet, it’s rare to see a mileage deal under 2.0 cents. At least until now.
Barclaycard is rolling out an “exclusive new pilot” to certain AAdvantage Aviator Mastercard cardholders that effectively allows AA mileage purchases for just 1 cent per mile. The “Flight Cents” program starts October 1 for selected cardholders who opt in by September 30. If you were targeted, you’ll have likely received an email from Barclaycard inviting you to the program. However, it can’t hurt to log in to your Barclaycard account to see if the offer is available there.
As laid out in one of these emails, here’s how the new program works:
Buy Coffee $3.10 Amount rounded up $.90 (90 cents)
Amount charged $4.00 Miles acquired* 90 (90 cents x 100% = 90 miles)
You would normally earn 3 miles on this purchase, but with Flight Cents, you’ll earn an additional 90 miles.
The email informs potential participants that they can set a “monthly round up threshold (up to $500).” At $500 per month at a cost of 1 cent each, this is an incredible opportunity to rack up 50,000 miles per month at a cheap cost. Over the program’s six-month run, you can accumulate up to 300,000 AAdvantage miles for just $3,000.
Note that a couple of other cardholders on Reddit noted that they received a similar offer with a significant difference: a “50%” replaced the “100%” in the formula. This means that their offer is to buy miles at a cost of 2 cents each instead of 1 cent each.
Unfortunately, this turns an exciting offer into one to pass on. 2 cents per mile is far greater than TPG’s valuation of AA miles at 1.4 cents each. If you’re interested in buying large amounts of miles at that rate, you’re better off waiting until the next AAdvantage buy miles promotion. Recent promotions have dropped the price down to just 1.72 cents per mile. With that said, this “Flight Cents” program lets you accumulate smaller amounts at better rate than is usually available through promotions.
The downside of this program: You’re putting spending on a card that doesn’t provide a great return. Purchases on the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red — and downgraded Silver version — card only earn 1 AAdvantage mile per dollar spent (1.4 cents of value). Based on TPG’s valuations, you’d do much better spending on the Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express (2x Membership Rewards points = 3.8 cents per dollar spent; on the first $50,000 per year; then 1x thereafter) or Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5x Ultimate Rewards points = 3.3 cents per dollar spent). So, you’d want to limit the spending on this card to minor purchases, preferably ending in $.01.
H/T: Reddit user jamild
Featured image by Saul Loeb via Getty Images.