American Airlines offering up to a 100% bonus on mileage purchases
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Editor’s note: The team at The Points Guy loves to travel, but now is not the time for unnecessary trips. Health officials note that the fastest way to return to normalcy is to stop coming in contact with others. That includes ceasing travel. We are publishing travel deals because we should all use this time to think about and plan our next adventures. TPG doesn’t advise booking trips for travel until the late spring or early summer — and even then be mindful of cancellation policies.
American Airlines has frequently offered bonuses and discounts when purchasing AAdvantage miles. The ongoing coronavirus outbreak means major travel restrictions, and while we generally advise against purchasing miles speculatively, American is currently selling miles at its lowest rate ever. As first reported by One Mile At A Time, you can score a 50% to 100% bonus if you purchase miles by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on April 12, 2020. The largest bonus is offered to those who purchase 150,000 miles or more, but here’s the full break-down of the bonus structure:
- Buy 2,000-9,000 miles and get a 50% bonus.
- Buy 10,000-49,000 miles and get a 70% bonus.
- Buy 50,000-149,000 miles and get an 80% bonus.
- Buy 150,000 miles and get a 100% bonus.
This is the lowest price that American Airlines has sold miles for in years. The promotion isn’t targeted either, so anyone with an AAdvantage account can take advantage of the promotion. You can purchase miles with this promotion on American Airlines’ Buy Miles page.
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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.
While American has issued a travel waiver that allows for flexibility on newly-booked tickets, the terms and conditions indicate that this does not apply to AAdvantage awards. As a result, any new ticket booked after purchasing miles for future travel would be subject to any change or cancellation fees under the terms of the AAdvantage program.
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 60,000 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.
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 redemption in mind, and double-check that you’ll receive greater value for your miles that the price you’re paying for them. With this promotion of up to 100% bonus miles, it’s possible to buy miles for as little as 1.6 cents each, though be aware that you must purchase at least 2,000 miles to trigger any kind of bonus and discount.
Leveraging American Airlines reduced mileage awards, Economy Web Specials and expensive business- or first-class flights can net you a significantly higher value per mile. For example, you can book a round-trip flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Doha (DOH) in Qatar QSuite for just 140,000 American miles.
This ticket often costs $6,500, so if each mile has cost you 1.6 cents, you’ve effectively paid $2,240 for this flight. However, keep in mind you won’t earn 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 1.6 cents per mile rate through this buy-miles discount:
- Domestic Economy Web Special awards starting at $80 each way
- Domestic reduced mileage awards for $120 each way
- American Airlines business class to Europe for $920 each way.
- Cathay Pacific business class to Asia for $1,120 each way
- Qatar business class to Africa for $1,120 each way
How to buy American Airlines miles
The regular price for buying miles from American can be as high as 4 cents per mile, so this sale represents considerable savings. TPG’s monthly valuations peg American Airlines miles at 1.4 cents each — 0.2 cents lower than this sale price. However, if your travel goals are similar to the flights listed above, you may very well save a boatload of money with this promo.
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 cobranded cards, so you could earn 2x AA miles on these purchases as well.
Related: The best cards for airfare purchases
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
Victoria Walker, Andrew Kunesh and JT Genter contributed to this post.
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.
- 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.