Buying American miles with up to a 35% discount: Is it worth considering?
Update: 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 Cathay Pacific first-class seats. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the carrier is back with another buy miles promotion.
AA just launched a new offer that lets you purchase miles with up to a 35% discount for a limited time. This brings the cost down to as low as 2.45 cents per mile. If that seems steeper than usual, it's because the Fort Worth-based carrier significantly raised the normal cost to purchase miles earlier this year.
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 risk in buying miles with American (or any other airline) speculatively. Here are the details and what else you should keep in mind if you’re considering taking advantage of this promotion.
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Should you buy American miles now?
It rarely makes sense to buy miles speculatively.
Instead, we only recommend buying miles for a specific near-term redemption. So, it’s likely only a good idea to take advantage of this promotion if you’re planning a trip for later in 2022 and have already found bookable award space. Thankfully, American doesn’t charge change and cancellation fees on award tickets, so you should have some flexibility if your plans change.
Buying AA miles for as low as 2.45 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 get depends on how many miles you purchase. It appears that this offer isn’t targeted, so all AAdvantage members should be able to get the following discounts:
- Buy 5,000-54,000 miles and get 20% off
- Buy 55,000-149,000 miles and get 25% off
- Buy 150,000 miles and get 35% off
You’ll get the lowest cost per mile by purchasing 150,000 miles, which drops your purchase price to 2.45 cents per mile. This is far from the lowest rate we’ve seen for American miles, so unless you need the miles immediately, you might want to avoid this particular offer.
This is a limited-time promotion, though American has not published a specific end date. 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, you might want to wait around for a better bonus to potentially appear later this year.
Who should buy miles?
As noted above, you should only buy miles if you have a specific high-value redemption in mind. However, if you don’t need miles immediately, you may want to wait for a better buy miles sale.
Additionally, there are plenty of ways to earn American Airlines miles aside from buying them. One easy option is 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.
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.
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.
Maximizing American miles
You’ll often get the most value per mile by redeeming them for American Airlines’ Web Special awards 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 2.45 cents, you’ve effectively paid $1,715 for this flight. However, 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 2.45 cents apiece through this promotion:
- American Airlines business class to Europe for $1,409 each way, plus tax
- Cathay Pacific business class to Asia for $1,470 each way, plus tax
- Qatar business class to Africa for $1,838 each way, plus tax
How to buy American miles
With the recent price hike, the non-discounted price for buying miles from American Airlines is now about 3.8 cents per mile (including taxes and fees), so this offer represents decent savings. TPG values American Airlines miles at 1.68 cents each, which is a whopping 0.77 cents lower than this sale price. However, if your travel goals are similar to the flight examples listed above, you can 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.
Which card should you use?
In our past experience, AAdvantage mileage purchases code as airfare. This means you should earn bonus points when using many of the top travel rewards cards, such as:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: 5 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights when booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Terms apply.)
- American Express® Gold Card: 3 American Express Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel. Terms apply.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel, including airfare bought directly with the airlines. 5 points per dollar spent if airfare is purchased in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 2 points per dollar spent on travel, including airfare bought directly with the airlines. 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel booked in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
This will also apply to the above American Airlines cobranded cards. You could earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent when buying American Airlines miles with one of these cards.
Related: The best cards for airfare purchases
Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh, Joseph Hostetler, Jasmin Baron, Victoria Walker, Nick Ewen and JT Genter.