American Bringing Back Year-End Purchase of Qualifying Miles Tomorrow

Over the weekend American’s “status buy back / buy up” page went from ‘offer expired’ to ‘coming soon.’ That made it a pretty good bet that American would be re-introducing a way to either buy back status you had in the previous year but didn’t requalify for, or buy elite qualifying miles to put you over the top towards elite status without taking an end of year mileage run, or extra trip just for the flown miles.

Their offer will go online tomorrow. Unlike in years’ past, it will be open for purchase right away (you won’t have to wait until the year ends to take advantage of it).

  • The American offer will be live right away.
  • The US Airways Dividend Miles version of the offer may take a couple of weeks to go online, but will be similar.

I’d expect an offering very similar to last year’s, but they will be offering up to 15,000 elite qualifying miles via purchase rather than just the 10,000 they offered last year. It will be offered in increments of 5,000, 10,000, and 15,000.

We’ll see the full details when things go live, but here’s one important thing to mention. According to American,

[Y]our EQM balance does not actually change. If you are in the camp of being close to a tier level with combined balances, you should wait until your accounts are combined in Q2 and then boost at that time off of your combined balance.

It occurred to me that if you were 30,000 miles short — and this would be expensive, for sure — you could buy 15,000 miles on each of the US Airways and American side of things, and then when your American and US Airways accounts get combined come the second quarter of 2015, you’d have the status you wanted.

It won’t work that way. If you are 5000 qualifying miles towards status, jumping on the offer by buying 5000 miles doesn’t increase your qualifying mileage balance by 5000 — it just puts you over the hump and gives you status.

So if you have elite qualifying miles in your American and in your US Airways accounts, you will want to wait until those combine to take advantage of a buy up (it sounds like, as in the past, the offer will be available some months into the future). Otherwise you’ll be wasting the money — you buy up to a status that combining your accounts would already get you to. Your only benefit then would be having the status for a period of weeks between when your account is downgraded March 1 and when the programs get combined.

This all makes good sense from an airline’s perspective, the mileage program gets the revenue and you don’t have to take trips you don’t need to take. You aren’t taking upgrades away from other passengers who do need to fly. Planes are full anyway. Win-win, although I’d say the program wins a little more than you do because this won’t be cheap.

More details, including pricing, coming tomorrow!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thanks for the heads up Gary, but just booked late NOV MR to get me slightly over 100K. Sure hope my MR is a lot cheaper than buying up will be, as will kick myself if I’m spending both $$ & time on a MR when I could have stayed home & just bought my way to EXP status. Tomorrow will tell if $280 on SFO-MIA-SFO is money/time well spent.

  2. Can you only purchase EQM and not EQP? I am 75000 EQP, but only 60000 EQM, with at least 1 transpac trip before EOY.

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