Score up to 40% bonus points through American Airlines new buy miles promotion

Jan 15, 2020

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

American Airlines just released its second buy miles offer of the year, offering members a chance to purchase miles with up to a 40% bonus. But, is it worth it for you to buy miles? It depends.

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Why would you ever buy miles?

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: buying miles makes sense only for certain travelers. It’s obviously much better to earn AA miles for free through credit card sign-up bonuses and spending.

If you’re looking for good options, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® is currently offering a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

While it doesn’t offer as great of a sign-up bonus, the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card offers 2x American Airline miles at grocery stores — including grocery delivery services — as well as 2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases. Plus, you’ll get 10,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending just $500 on purchases in the first three months.

Related: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

However, if you’ve tapped out your credit card options for generating AAdvantage miles — like many of us at TPG have — you might consider buying miles. But you should only do so for the right redemptions. What are those redemptions? Generally, high-cost domestic flights you can score for cheap with miles, domestic itineraries bookable using reduced mileage awards, Web Special deals and business or first-class international awards on partners.

Qatar is waiting to launch its Doha to Las Vegas route until it
Use AAdvantage miles for business or first-class international awards, such as Qatar’s Qsuite (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.)

Here are just a few examples of the prices you’d effectively be paying for award flights when buying points at the cheapest 2.28 cents per mile rate through this buy-miles promotion:

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage

Details of this American Airlines promotion

The regular price for buying miles from American starts as high as 4 cents per mile ($80 for 2,000 miles). But if you max out this bonus, your purchase price drops to 2.28 cents per mile.

There are two tiers of bonuses for this promotion:

  • Buy 15,000 to 49,000 miles: 30% bonus miles
  • Buy 50,000 to 150,000 miles: 40% bonus miles

However, the purchase rate varies based on how many miles you buy. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Buy Bonus Price Cents per mile
2,000 $80 4.00
15,000 30% $513 2.63
25,000 30% $830 2.56
40,000 30% $1,306 2.51
50,000 40% $1,623 2.32
70,000 40% $2,258 2.30
90,000 40% $2,892 2.30
110,000 40% $3,526 2.29
150,000 40% $4,795 2.28

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

The purchase rate on this promotion isn’t great. TPG values AAdvantage miles at 1.4 cents each, so a purchase rate of no better than 2.28 cents is a steep premium to pay. AA regularly runs these buy miles promotions, so it’s probably going to make sense for you to wait until a better one comes around — unless you need miles immediately for a high-value redemption.

How to buy AA miles

If you still want to buy miles during this promotion, follow these steps:

  1. Visit American’s Buy, Gift, and Share Miles page.
  2. Enter your AAdvantage number, last name and password to log in to your AAdvantage account.
  3. Select the number of miles you’d like to buy.
  4. Add your credit card details and click “Continue.”
  5. Review the information, check the box to agree to the Terms and Conditions and click “Pay Now” to finalize the purchase.
  6. Your miles should post to the designated account immediately.

Keep in mind that the usual restrictions for purchasing American miles apply to this promotion, including the following:

  • Miles may be purchased in increments of 1,000 miles up to a maximum of 150,000 miles per year.
  • Transactions are nonrefundable and nonreversible.
  • Purchased miles don’t count toward elite status or Million Miler status.

Which credit card should you use?

American Airlines processes mileage transfers and purchases directly — instead of processing purchases through — so this spending will code as an airfare purchase. That means you’ll earn bonus points if you use a card with a travel or airfare category bonus.

The best two options in this category are:

Related: The best cards for airfare purchases

Other top credit cards to consider include the Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on general travel excluding $300 travel credit); the American Express® Gold Card (3x American Express Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with airlines or; the Citi Premier℠ Card (3x ThankYou points on air travel); and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x Ultimate Rewards points on general travel).

The information for the Citi Prestige and Citi Premier have been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Featured photo by JT Genter/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.

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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 guests traveling with you
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
  • 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 17.24% - 25.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
17.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Recommended Credit

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.

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