Buying American miles for up to 35% off: Is it worth considering?

Oct 1, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest promotion.

Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

American Airlines frequently offers bonuses and discounts when purchasing AAdvantage miles, giving you a chance to top up on miles for amazing redemptions like tickets in Etihad and Cathay Pacific first-class seats. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the carrier is back with another one of these promotions.

AA has launched a new offer allowing you to purchase miles with up to a 35% discount through Oct. 31, 2021. This brings the cost down to as low as 2.09 cents per mile.

There are some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of buying miles during this promotion. This isn’t the lowest price we’ve ever seen for American miles, and there is some elevated risk in buying miles with American (or any other airline) right now.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

In This Post

Should you buy American miles now?

It rarely makes sense to purchase miles speculatively.

Rather, we only recommend buying miles for a specific redemption. So, it’s likely only a good idea to take advantage of this promotion if you’re planning a trip for later in 2021 or sometime in 2022 and have already found bookable award space. Thankfully, American eliminated change and cancellation fees on award tickets last year, so you should have some flexibility if your plans change.

Related: Travel is back. Now, points and miles devaluations are (likely) coming

Buying AA miles for as low as 2.09 cents per mile

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at American’s latest buy-miles promotion. Like most promotions we’ve seen from the carrier, the discount you’ll get will depend on how many miles you purchase. And it appears that this isn’t targeted.

Here’s a look at the deal:

  • Buy 15,000-49,000 miles and get 15% off
  • Buy 50,000-99,000 miles and get 25% off
  • Buy 100,000-150,000 miles and get 35% off

You’ll get the lowest cost-per-mile by purchasing 100,000-150,000 miles, which drops your purchase price to 2.09 cents apiece. This is far from the lowest rate we’ve seen for American miles. For instance, in summer 2021, they were available for 1.84 cents apiece and last fall, they were available for 1.82 cents apiece. Even July of this year saw the price drop to 2.02 cents per mile.

That said, we’ve also seen higher costs. In May 2021, the lowest price was 2.15 cents apiece.

This promotion is available through Oct. 31, 2021. Also, note that accounts under 30 days old are not eligible to purchase miles. Finally, you can normally only purchase 150,000 miles in a calendar year — so if you’ve already purchased AA miles this year, you may be capped at a lower bonus amount. Or, you might want to wait around for a better bonus to potentially come around in the future.

Related: All of the buy points and miles promotions worth considering

Who should buy miles?

As noted above, you should only buy miles if you have a specific redemption in mind and avoid the temptation to speculate. In case your plans do change, you can now cancel AAdvantage awards right until departure for free.

Keep in mind that there are plenty of ways to earn American Airlines miles aside from buying them, the easiest being through credit card sign-up bonuses.

For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is currently offering a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $2,500 in purchases in the first three months of account opening. If you’re after bonus miles as well as Admirals Club access when traveling on American, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. These cards also unlock potential bonuses with the SimplyMiles site.

The information for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

Another temporary option to get a boost of American miles without buying them directly is to transfer points in from the Citi ThankYou program. Currently, this option is set to be available until Nov. 13, 2021.

But if none of those options helps your situation, purchasing miles isn’t always foolish. Just be sure you have a particular redemption in mind, and double-check that you’ll receive greater value for your miles than the price you’re paying for them.

Qatar Qsuite seat. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.)

Maximizing American miles

You’ll typically get the most value per mile by leveraging American Airlines’ reduced mileage awards (no longer available as of Oct. 1, 2021), Economy Web Specials and expensive business- or first-class flights. For example, you can book a one-way flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Doha (DOH) in Qatar’s Qsuite for just 70,000 American miles.

This ticket often costs roughly $5,000, so if each mile costs 2.09 cents, you’ve effectively paid $1,463 for this flight. However, keep in mind you won’t earn redeemable or status-qualifying miles with award flights.

Here are a few more examples of the prices you’d effectively be paying for award flights when buying miles at 2.09 cents apiece through this promotion:

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage

How to buy American miles

The non-discounted price for buying miles from American is about 3.2 cents per mile (including taxes and fees), so this offer represents a decent saving. TPG values American Airlines miles at 1.4 cents each — 0.69 cents lower than this sale price. However, if your travel goals are similar to the flight examples listed above, you may very well save money with this promo over purchasing the flight with cash.

If you’re interested in purchasing miles at this rate, head over to American Airlines’ Buy Miles page and sign in using your AAdvantage credentials. Then, enter the number of miles you’d like to purchase and follow the on-screen prompts to pay. The miles should be available in your account instantly but may take up to eight hours to process.

Related: How to earn miles in the American Airlines AAdvantage program

Buy miles AA Oct 21
(Screenshot courtesy of

Which credit card should you use?

When you buy miles via the American Airlines portal, your transaction is coded as airfare. This means you’ll receive bonus points by using many of the top travel rewards cards, such as:

This will also apply to the above American Airlines cobranded cards. You could earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar on these eligible purchases as well.

Related: The best cards for airfare purchases

Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh, Joseph Hostetler, Jasmin Baron, Victoria Walker, Nick Ewen and JT Genter.

Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, the 50,000 miles are worth $700. In addition, you can earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) toward elite status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. As of July 23, 2017 this is the only card that offers Admirals Club lounge access so if you are an AA flyer this card might make sense for you.  Aside from lounge access the primary cardholder will receive a Global Entry application fee credit every 5 years, first checked bag free for up to 8 travel companions on domestic itineraries and a 25% discount on eligible in-flight purchases on American Airlines flights.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Regular APR
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

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.