Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles with new offer to buy American miles: Is it worth considering?

Sep 1, 2020

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

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. 

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 100,000-mile bonus through Sept. 30, 2020. This brings the cost down to as low as 1.82 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 price 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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In This Post

Should you buy AA miles now?

There’s a risk with buying miles now. The first is that it isn’t safe to travel in the immediate future — many countries have closed their borders, several states have mandatory quarantine orders, 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 sometime in 2021 and have already found bookable award space. Even then, there’s no guarantee that it will be safe to travel by that time, so make sure you understand American’s change and cancellation fees before you book — though thankfully these were just eliminated on many award tickets.

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.

Related: I’m confident in the future of points and miles — here’s why you should be, too

Buying AA for as low as 1.82 cents per mile

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at American’s latest buy-miles promotion. Like many promotions we’ve seen from the carrier, you’ll get a set number of bonus miles based on how many you purchase. And it appears that this isn’t targeted. However, it’s a flat bonus amount rather than a percentage. As a result, you’d want to stick to the bottom of the below ranges — as buying additional miles at that tier won’t earn you any additional bonuses.

Here’s a look at the deal:

  • Buy 15,000-25,000 miles and get 5,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 26,000-39,000 miles and get 10,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 40,000-59,000 miles and get 15,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 60,000-74,000 miles and get 25,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 75,000-89,000 miles and get 35,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 90,000-99,000 miles and get 50,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 100,000-124,000 miles and get 60,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 125,000-149,000 miles and get 80,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 150,000 miles and get 100,000 bonus miles

You’ll get the lowest cost-per-point by purchasing 150,000 miles, which drops your purchase price to 1.82 cents apiece. This is a fairly standard rate for American miles. For instance, in August they were available for 1.72 cents apiece, 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 Sept. 30, 2020. Also, note that accounts under 30 days old are not eligible to purchase miles. Finally, you can 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.

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

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 Dec. 31, 2020. The carrier’s new policy on changing and canceling award tickets is slated to kick in on Sept. 9, allowing all members to adjust their itineraries without any fee at least 60 days prior to departure. As with paid tickets, the airline will also drop change fees on all domestic flights, as well as those to select short-haul international destinations, come Jan. 1, 2021.

Related: American Airlines joins Delta and United in extending elite status and more

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. 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.

Note that in April, 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 2020. This promotion applies to all Citi / AAdvantage and AAdvantage Aviator products, as well as select AAdvantage credit cards outside of the U.S.

Related: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

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.

Qsuite seat (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)
Qatar Qsuite seat. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.)

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’s Qsuite for just 70,000 American miles.

This ticket often costs roughly $5,000 so if each mile costs 1.82 cents, you’ve effectively paid $1,274 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 1.82 cents apiece through this promotion:

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage

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 — 0.42 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.

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

(Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

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:

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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