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

February 25 2021
4 min read
Travelers wearing mask at American Airlines check-in area
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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.

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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.

(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?

(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

Featured photo by Passengers check-in for American Airlines flights at Los Angeles International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Los Angeles, California, November 25, 2020. - US health authorities cautioned Americans on traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, as the coronavirus spreads out of control. The recommendation was issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government's health protection agency. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
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  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

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  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees