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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard
Earning airline miles using the traditional method (actually flying) is just one option for growing your account balance. While it’s increasingly harder to earn miles from cheap flights, airlines make it relatively easy to accrue miles without flying — whether through top credit card offers or by utilizing shopping portals and dining rewards programs. But if these methods leave you short of your travel goals, you can also purchase miles directly from an airline.
It’s been a while since American Airlines has put its miles on sale at a rate that’s seriously worth considering. But from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, the airline is offering an 80% bonus when buying AAdvantage miles.
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 1.77 cents per mile if you max out the offer.
You’ll get the maximum 80% bonus — netting the 1.77 cents per mile purchase rate — when you purchase 150,000 miles. But, even at just 50,000 miles, you’ll get 54% bonus miles, dropping the rate to 2.1 cents per mile.
Here are the sweet spots of this promotion’s bonus chart:
- 10,000 + 3,000 bonus miles for $347 total (2.67 cents per mile)
- 25,000 + 9,000 bonus miles for $883 total (2.60 cents per mile)
- 50,000 + 27,000 bonus miles for $1,616 total (2.10 cents per mile)
- 75,000 + 48,000 bonus miles for $2,408 total (1.96 cents per mile)
- 100,000 + 72,000 bonus miles for $3,201 total (1.86 cents per mile)
- 150,000 + 120,000 bonus miles for $4,787 total (1.77 cents per mile)
Should You Buy AA Miles?
TPG currently values AA miles at 1.4 cents each, but American Airlines’ penchant for offering little to no award availability generates a wide variety of opinions about the valuation of AA’s miles. The airline has promised to increase award space “soon,” but that doesn’t mean you should buy miles on a speculative basis.
That said, while AA’s award availability is bad, there are still some ways to get great value out of AAdvantage miles. For AA flights, certain credit card cardholders can redeem for reduced mileage awards, getting you one-way award flights for as little as 5,850 miles after a 10% rebate. On certain routes, buying and using miles can provide outsize savings.
There are also some routes where American Airlines provides plenty of award availability. If you’re looking for flights on these routes, it could make sense to buy miles. For example, American Airlines’ new Los Angeles (LAX) to Beijing (PEK) flights have offered consistent last-minute award availability. That means you can snag lie-flat business class seats to China for just $1,241 by buying miles through this promotion and redeeming them for business class on this route.
But, partner awards are where you’re going to find the most value — such as lie-flat business class to South America for 60,000 miles round-trip. If you maximize this promotion, you’ll be paying $1,241 one-way for Qatar’s amazing business class from the US to Doha (DOH) or beyond. Or, you can score a QSuite from Doha (DOH) to London (LHR) for just $753 in purchased miles.
It’s obviously better if you’re able to generate these points and miles for free using credit cards. And, if you haven’t gotten them yet, the 60,000 mile sign-up bonus is still available for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard. However, if you’re ineligible to get the bonus on these cards, buying miles through this promotion can make sense if you’re able to redeem the miles for high-value options.
How to Buy
To take advantage of the promotion, follow these steps:
- Visit American’s Buy, Gift, and Share Miles page.
- Select Buy Miles or Gift Miles (the promotion is not valid on sharing 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 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 last year’s buy 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 Citi 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.
Are you going to take AAdvantage of this buy miles promo?
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.
- 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