You can now redeem American miles for a COVID test — but is it a good value?

Feb 25, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Negative COVID-19 tests are important for travel — both international and domestic. Nowadays, most international destinations that are open for tourism require a negative COVID test for entry. Likewise, many U.S. cities — including New York — require a negative test to avoid mandatory quarantine.

Many airlines are making it easier for travelers to get tested. Starting today, American Airlines AAdvantage members can redeem miles for an at-home COVID test.

Let’s take a closer look at this announcement and if it’s a good deal.

For more travel tips and news, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Redeeming AAdvantage miles for an at-home COVID test

You can now redeem American miles for an at-home COVID test. (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

American’s COVID tests are supplied through LetsGetChecked — a direct-to-consumer at-home health testing company. This RT-PCR test covers entry requirements to all U.S. cities and states that have COVID restrictions in place, as well as many countries that require a pre-flight COVID test.

Once the results are received, they can be added to the VeriFLY app that streamlines check-in for international flights where a negative COVID test is required for entry.

The at-home test offered by LetsGetChecked is simple. The company ships you a COVID test kit with a return shipping label. You collect the nose sample on your own and ship it back to LetsGetChecked for processing. You’ll receive your test results within 24-72 hours alongside an official lab report.

Typically, this test costs $109 when purchased directly from LetsGetChecked, though you can submit it to your insurance for reimbursement. Alternatively, AAdvantage members can redeem 12,000 miles for the test by calling 800-882-8880. American notes that you must request your test at least 10 days before departure to receive results in time.

Buying an at-home COVID test from LetsGetChecked
(Screenshot courtesy of LetsGetChecked)

Related: 5 things to know about getting a COVID-19 test if you’re staying at a vacation home

Should you redeem American miles for a COVID test?

Man wearing a mask walking with a suitcase by an American Airlines sign
(Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Like most non-travel redemptions, this isn’t great at face value. You’re spending 12,000 miles for a product that costs $109 out of pocket. This gives you 0.9 cents per mile in value, which is 0.5 cents lower than TPG’s valuation of AAdvantage miles.

That said, if you’re sitting on a stash of American miles and need a test, this can be a good way to save money. Especially if you can’t cover the cost through health insurance. $109 isn’t cheap, and the convenience of at-home testing with timely results is especially important for pre-travel tests. While many locales offer free testing, processing times vary widely from city to city. This presents an issue if you need results in a specific timeframe to travel.

Comparatively, Hawaiian previously let its loyalty members redeem 14,000 miles for a Vault Health COVID test that retails for $119, giving you 0.85 cents per point value. This can be seen as a better deal since HawaiianMiles are worth 0.9 cents per mile in TPG’s most recent valuation.

Related: The best sweet spots with American Airlines AAdvantage

Bottom line

It’s always great to see airlines add new ways to redeem miles — even if it isn’t a great value on paper. For travelers with lots of AAdvantage miles who are unsure of when their next trip may be, redeeming miles for a COVID test before they can potentially devalue might make sense.

Getting a COVID test can be difficult depending on where you live, so American’s new COVID test redemption gives its members access to timely results with no out-of-pocket expense. That said, the redemption isn’t a great value when compared to redeeming for travel, so you may want to pay out of pocket or find a test locally if you want to maximize your miles.

Feature photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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.

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.