Buying American Airlines miles with a 100% bonus: Is it worth considering?
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest promotion.
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 100% bonus through Aug. 31, 2020. This brings the cost down to as low as 1.71 cents per mile.
There are some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of buying miles during this promotion, though. This isn’t the lowest prices we’ve ever seen for American miles and there is a real risk in buying miles with American (or any other airline) right now.
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Should you buy AA miles now?
There’s a risk with buying miles now. The first is that it just isn’t safe to travel in the immediate future — many countries have closed their borders, airlines have announced massive route cuts and, according to the CDC, the risk of contracting the coronavirus when traveling is high.
We only recommend buying miles for a specific redemption, so it’s only a good idea to take advantage of this promotion if you’re planning a trip for late 2020 or early 2021 and have already found bookable award space. Even then, there’s no guarantee that it will be safe to travel by this time, so make sure you understand American’s change and cancellation fees before you book.
On top of this, American Airlines isn’t in the best financial place right now. The carrier has asked the U.S. government for billions in aid to stay afloat, and its stock price has plummeted almost 70% since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. In the event that American Airlines is insolvent, your miles could be rendered worthless and you’d be due no refund for your purchase.
So in the end, only take advantage of buy-miles promotions if you understand all of the risks involved. Keep the airline’s change and cancellation policies in mind and understand that you could be out of money if American Airlines goes bankrupt.
Buying AA for as low as 1.71 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, you’ll get a set percentage of bonus miles based on how many miles you purchase. And it appears that this isn’t targeted.
Here’s a look at the deal:
- Buy 15,000-75,000 miles and get a 50% bonus
- Buy 76,000-124,000 miles and get a 75% bonus
- Buy 125,000-150,000 miles and get a 100% bonus
You’ll get the lowest cost-per-point by purchasing 150,000 miles, which drops your purchase price to just 1.71 cents apiece. This is a fairly standard rate for American miles. For instance, in July they were available for 1.76 cents apiece and in April they were available for 1.6 cents apiece.
This promotion is available through Aug. 31, 2020. Also, note that accounts under 30 days old are not eligible to purchase miles.
Who should buy miles?
As noted above, we’re in the middle of the global coronavirus outbreak, so we don’t recommend buying miles to travel immediately. Instead, only purchase miles if it makes sense for trips you’re planning to take after coronavirus is contained. This will keep you safe and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
American has issued a travel waiver that allows for flexibility on newly-booked tickets, and recently updated the terms and conditions to waive change and mileage redeposit fees on AAdvantage awards for travel through Sept. 30, 2020. Note as well that the carrier’s new policy on changing and canceling award tickets has now kicked in, allowing all members to adjust their itineraries without any fee at least 60 days prior to departure.
Additionally, there are plenty of ways to earn American Airlines miles aside from buying them, the fastest 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.
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.
Note that on April 13, AA announced it would make it easier to earn lifetime elite status by offering 1 mile toward Million Miler status for every dollar spent on eligible, co-branded credit cards between May and the end of the year. This promotion applies to all Citi / AAdvantage and AAdvantage Aviator products, as well as select AAdvantage credit cards outside of the U.S.
If you’ve already opened the above cards and aren’t yet eligible for a new bonus, purchasing miles isn’t always foolish. Just be sure you have a particular post-coronavirus redemption in mind, and double-check that you’ll receive greater value for your miles than the price you’re paying for them.
Maximizing AA miles
You’ll typically get the most value per mile by leveraging American Airlines reduced mileage awards, 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 Qsuite for just 70,000 American miles.
This ticket often costs roughly $5,000 so if each mile costs 1.71 cents, you’ve effectively paid $1,288 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 points at 1.71 cents per mile rate through this buy-miles discount:
- Domestic economy Web Special awards starting at $92 each way
- Domestic first-class Web Special awards starting at $276 each way
- American Airlines business class to Europe for $1,058 each way
- Cathay Pacific business class to Asia for $1,288 each way
- Qatar business class to Africa for $1,288 each way
How to buy AA miles
The regular price for buying miles from American can be as high as 4 cents per mile, so this sale represents a decent saving. TPG’s valuations peg American Airlines miles at 1.4 cents each — 0.44 cents lower than this sale price. However, if your travel goals are similar to the flights listed above, you may very well save money with this promo.
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 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 credit cards, such as:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: 5 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare when booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com. Terms apply.
- American Express® Gold Card: 3 American Express Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare booked directly with airlines or
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel, including airfare
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel, including airfare
This will also apply to the above American Airlines co-branded cards, so you could earn 2x AA miles on these eligible purchases as well.
Related: The best cards for airfare purchases
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
Andrew Kunesh, Joseph Hostetler, Jasmin Baron, Victoria Walker, Nick Ewen and JT Genter contributed to this post.
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