Get up to a 100% bonus when you buy points and miles

Apr 16, 2021

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The travel industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. Thousands of aircraft are parked due to low passenger loads, while hotel occupancy in the U.S. and abroad has plunged to historic levels. While the recovery has started, airlines and hotel groups are still scrambling to find new income streams to secure fast cash. One of these ways is selling airline miles and hotel points at a discount or bonus. This gives the airline an immediate cash injection as travelers are essentially prepaying for future travel at a discount.

We’ll walk you through all of the current airline mile and hotel point sales that we consider good deals. But first, let’s discuss whether or not buying miles during the global coronavirus outbreak is a good idea.

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In This Post

Should I buy points and miles now?

While these deals sound great on paper, there are a couple of things to consider before taking advantage of point sales. The first is that buying points and miles makes sense only for certain travelers. It’s generally much better to earn points and miles for free through welcome bonuses on top travel rewards credit cards.

However, buying points and miles during good promotions can make sense for those who have tapped out their credit card options and can get high value from their points and miles. That said, we only recommend buying points or miles when you have an immediate plan to use them; otherwise, you’re left open to unexpected devaluations.

But here’s the thing: Now isn’t the time to travel, given the state of the coronavirus outbreak. This means that you’re buying miles that you’ll likely use for travel in late 2021. However, there’s no guarantee that travel will be safe by this time, so ensure you understand the airline or hotel’s cancellation policy.

Many airlines and hotel groups are on rocky financial ground right now. We’ve already seen one major airline go bankrupt — when this happens, your miles could be deemed worthless depending on the bankruptcy outcome. To play it safe, only purchase points and miles from airlines and hotel companies that you think will make it through the pandemic without filing for bankruptcy or otherwise going insolvent.

With that out of the way, here are the buy-points and miles promotions currently available, sorted by those ending first:

Buy airline mile promotions

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Buy airline miles and fly business class on the cheap. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

JetBlue TrueBlue

  • Current promo: up to a 70% bonus
  • Purchase rate: As low as 1.74 cents per mile
  • TPG valuation: 1.3 cents per point
  • Ending date: Apr. 27, 2021
  • Link to buy points

JetBlue is running a targeted buy points promotion through the end of May. You may be able to purchase miles with a 70% bonus, depending on your offer. This bonus brings the cent per mile cost down to 1.85 cents per mile when buying at least 30,000 points at the highest targeted offer.

We don’t recommend stocking up on points with this promotion as JetBlue points are pegged to a cash value for all flight redemptions. This is roughly 1.3 cents per point, so you’re paying a premium over buying a flight outright. You may find this worthwhile if you need to buy a smaller amount of points to top up your account for a specific award.

Verdict: OK deal if you need to top up your TrueBlue balance for a specific award ticket.

Related: The best credit cards for paying taxes and fees on award tickets

American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines is offering a 40% discount on AAdvantage miles. This drops the price to 1.93 cents per point at all purchase levels. This isn’t the best deal we’ve seen for American miles, but it’s a solid discount over the normal 3.2 cents per point price.

Verdict: It can be a good deal for those topping up their account balance for a specific award ticket.

Related: The best credit cards for paying taxes and fees on award tickets

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

  • Current promo: Up to a 60% bonus
  • Purchase rate: As low as 1.85 cents per mile
  • TPG valuation: 1.8 cents per mile
  • Ending date: May 22, 2021
  • Link to buy points

Alaska Airlines is running a targeted buy Mileage Plan miles promotion through the end of May. Depending on your offer, you may be able to purchase miles with a 60% bonus. This bonus brings the cent per mile cost down to 1.85 cents per mile when buying at least 39,000 miles.

TPG values Alaska miles at 1.8 cents apiece, so this can be a good deal if you use the miles for a high-end partner award like Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines first class. For example, you can book a Cathay Pacific business class flight from the U.S. to Asia for 50,000 miles with minimal taxes and fees. You can effectively buy this flight for just $925 (plus tax) with this bonus.

Verdict: A good deal for high-end partner award tickets, especially if targeted for the full 60% bonus.

Buy hotel points promotions

Choice Privileges

Choice Hotels is offering a 40% bonus on Choice Privileges points purchased by Apr. 27, 2021, dropping the price per point to 0.99 cents. This is just 0.39 cents per point higher than TPG’s valuation but can still be a great way to subsidize expensive Choice Hotel stays. Note that you need to purchase at least 3,000 points to take advantage of the discount.

Verdict: Decent deal for scoring cheap Choice stays.

World of Hyatt

Hyatt is offering a rare opportunity to buy World of Hyatt points with a 25% discount when you purchase at least 5,000 points. This drops the price to 1.8 cents apiece — just 0.1 cents per point higher than TPG’s valuation. You can use this promotion to score an excellent deal on award stays, especially if you combine it with one of Hyatt’s ongoing special offers.

Verdict: Great for booking discounted Hyatt stays.

IHG Rewards

  • Current promo: up to a 75% bonus
  • Purchase rate: as low as 0.57 cents per point
  • TPG valuation: 0.5 cents per point
  • Ending date: May 3, 2021
  • Link to buy points

IHG Rewards is currently offering a targeted bonus on point purchases, up to 75%. But, IHG Rewards periodically offers a better 100% bonus. Since IHG Rewards caps the number of points you can purchase in a calendar year to 150,000 points, most travelers should wait until there’s a 100% bonus.

Verdict: Wait for a 100% bonus unless you need points now for an upcoming redemption.

Hilton Honors

Hilton is currently offering a 100% bonus on Hilton Honors points purchased by May 11, 2021. You’re eligible for this bonus when you purchase at least 10,000 points, bringing the price down to just 0.5 cents per point. This is 0.1 cents per point lower than TPG’s valuation of 0.6 cents per point and can be an excellent way to save on expensive hotel stays.

Verdict: Good for scoring a discount on Hilton stays.

Which credit card should you use to buy miles?

Most of these buy-point/mile promotions are processed through rather than directly by the hotel or airline. Unfortunately, that means that you won’t generally get bonus rewards with a card that has a travel category bonus.

Instead, go for one that offers a solid return on non-bonus spending. Some of the best cards that fit this bill include the following:

If you’re in the midst of completing a credit card spending requirement, buying miles can help you get it done faster. You can check out our guide to the best cards for everyday spending for additional suggestions.

The only exception to this rule is American miles. The airline reportedly codes mileage purchases as airfare, so you’ll want to use a credit card that earns bonus miles on travel for the highest returns on your mileage purchases.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski 

Featured photo courtesy of Conrad Punta de Mita

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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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.