Buying American miles for as low as 2.1 cents each: Is it worth considering?

Jan 3, 2022

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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 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 through Jan. 19, 2022. This brings the cost down to as low as 2.1 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 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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In This Post

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.

Related: An American Airlines mileage devaluation may be coming, here’s why I’m not too worried

Buying AA miles for as low as 2.1 cents per mile

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

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’ll get will depend 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 15,000-49,000 miles and get 15% off
  • Buy 50,000-99,000 miles and get 25% off
  • Buy 100,000-150,000 miles and get 35% off

You’ll get the lowest cost per mile by purchasing 100,000-150,000 miles, which drops your purchase price to 2.1 cents per mile. This is far from the lowest rate we’ve seen for American miles. For instance, they were available for 1.84 cents apiece last summer. So unless you need the miles immediately, you might want to avoid this particular offer.

This promotion is available through Jan. 19, 2022. 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.

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

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.

Related: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

Qatar Qsuite seat. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.)

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 2.1 cents, you’ve effectively paid $1,470 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 2.1 cents apiece through this promotion:

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage

How to buy American miles

The non-discounted price for buying miles from American Airlines is about 3.2 cents per mile (including taxes and fees), so this offer represents decent savings. TPG values American Airlines miles at 1.68 cents each — 0.42 cents lower than this sale price. However, if your travel goals are similar to the flight examples listed above, you may very well 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.

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

AA buy miles Jan 2022
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

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:

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.

Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, the 50,000 miles are worth $815. 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 up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • 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.
Regular APR
15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$450
Balance Transfer Fee
5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

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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