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

Feb 17, 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. This has left airlines and hotel groups 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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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 make sure 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)

American Airlines AAdvantage

  • Current promo: up to a 75% bonus
  • Purchase rate: As low as 1.84 cents per mile
  • TPG valuation: 1.4 cents per mile
  • Ending date: Feb. 28, 2021
  • Link to buy points

American Airlines is offering up to a 75% bonus on AAdvantage miles. This drops the price as low as 1.84 cents per point. You must purchase 150,000 AAdvantage miles to get the full bonus as smaller amounts receive a smaller bonus (as low as 20%).

This isn’t the best deal we’ve seen for American miles, but it is 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

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

  • Current promo: Up to a 100% bonus
  • Purchase rate: As low as 1.66 cents per mile
  • TPG valuation: 1.2 cents per mile
  • Ending date: Feb. 28, 2021
  • Link to buy points

Flying Blue — the loyalty program for Air France and KLM — is offering up to 100% bonus points. You can score the full 100% bonus when you buy miles by Feb. 5. After this date, the bonus drops to 75% and is valid through Feb. 28. The 100% bonus drops the price of Flying Blue miles to 1.66 cents apiece.

This is still higher than TPG’s Flying Blue valuation of 1.2 cents per point. That said, it can be a good deal if you find a low-cost Flying Blue award you’d like to book. For example, I’ve seen transatlantic business class flights price at 53,000 miles one-way with roughly $220 in taxes and fees. You can effectively “buy” this flight for $1,068 with this mileage sale after factoring in said fees.

Verdict: A solid way to save money on SkyTeam flights.

Avianca LifeMiles

  • Current promo: Up to a 150% bonus
  • Purchase rate: As low as 1.32 cents per mile
  • TPG valuation: 1.7 cents per mile
  • Ending date: Feb. 25, 2021
  • Link to buy points

Avianca’s LifeMiles program offers excellent deals on partner award tickets. Just 63,000 miles will get you from the U.S. to Europe in business class, and you won’t pay fuel surcharges either. Likewise, you can use the program to score an excellent deal on United domestic tickets.

The airline is currently offering a 150% bonus when you purchase miles. This brings the price of LifeMiles down to just 1.32 cents apiece, which is about 0.4 cents per point lower than TPG’s most recent valuation. We recommend buying miles if you’re comfortable with Avianca’s recent bankruptcy filing and plan to fly later this year.

Verdict: A good deal for high-end partner award tickets like Austrian Airlines business class and Lufthansa first class.

Buy hotel points promotions

Hilton Honors

Hilton is currently offering a 100% bonus on Hilton Honors points purchased by March 5, 2021. You’re eligible for this bonus when you purchase at least 5,000 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.

IHG Rewards

  • Current promo: Buy 5,000 to 14,000 points and get a 50% bonus, buy 15,000 points or more and get a 75% bonus
  • Purchase rate: 0.57 to 0.76 cents per point
  • TPG valuation: 0.5 cents per point
  • Ending date: Feb. 25, 2021
  • Link to buy points

IHG Rewards is currently offering a bonus on point purchases. But, IHG Rewards periodically offers a better 100% bonus. So, especially 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.

Marriott Bonvoy

  • Current promo: 40% bonus and double the annual purchase limit
  • Purchase rate:  0.9 cents per point
  • TPG valuation:  0.8 cents per point
  • Ending date: March 22, 2021
  • Link to buy points

Through March 22, 2021, Marriott is offering a 40% bonus when you purchase at least 2,000 points. This brings the cost of buying Bonvoy points to 0.9 cents each, which is slightly above TPG’s valuation of 0.8 cents. Buying points at this rate makes sense if you need to top off your account for an award. Typically, your best bet would be to transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards. However, if you’re saving those points for a higher value redemption, then buying Marriott points at 0.9 cents each might make sense.

The annual purchase limit has increased from 50,000 to 100,000 points this year, so you can purchase more points than before.

Verdict: Good for topping off your account for a high-end award.

World of Hyatt

Hyatt is offering a rare opportunity to buy World of Hyatt points with a 30% bonus when you purchase at least 3,000 points. This drops the price to 1.85 cents apiece — just 0.15 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.

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.

Benji Stawski contributed to this story.

Featured photo by Javier Rodriguez/The Points Guy

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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.

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