American Discounting Miles to 2.1 Cents Apiece For One Week

American has a new purchase miles bonus (now that the last one has expired for a few days). They don’t sell miles as cheaply as US Airways used to — but it can be close, and it’s much cheaper than American used to sell miles for. (And since they process the transactions themselves, rather than through, their margins are better than US Airways’ were, too.)

They’ll give you up to a 35% discount through May 11.

Here’s how the math works out if you max out this promotion.

Inclusive of tax and processing fee, you can buy 100,000 miles for 2.1 cents per mile.

That’s not a price at which I’m a buyer of miles. On average I value American miles at 1.7 cents.

They’re worth more if they put you over the top for a specific award. And they’re worth more if you redeem them for something you’d be willing to pay full or close to full price for otherwise.

To me they’re worth less because I have a large 7 figure balance of AAdvantage miles already, doubly so now that my US Airways miles have been combined into my American AAdvantage account.

That said,

  • American allows you to put awards on hold for 5 days. So you can secure award space before buying miles.

  • Business class between the US and Southeast Asia is just 110,000 miles roundtrip. Business class between the US and Europe is just 100,000 miles roundtrip. So it can make sense to buy miles for an award that’s currently available (although substantial advance purchase business class to Europe during off peak times can be less than $2000 paid)..

    Cathay Pacific first class is 67,500 miles one-way between the US and South Asia

This isn’t something everyone should jump on. But some people will find it a worthwhile bonus.

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. Sometimes I think the valuation of a mile is an academic exercise and nothing more. IMHO, the valuation of a mile is dependent on what you would normally redeem it for, with some adjustments for liquidity, inventory availability, and “getting your money’s worth.”

    If I had no miles, I’d certainly pay $2200 to buy the miles for a J ticket to SE Asia. In fact, I’ve done it before. But with enough miles for the forseeable future, I’d have to buy at a significant discount to make up for the uncertainties of future value and opportunity cost of the money.

  2. Gary – Where do I go to book Cathay Pacific F to South Asia for 67,500 and Etihad First Apt for 90K to the Middle East? AA award website for both or to their respective native award websites? Where can I read about which websites for which award tickets? I need a primer on this. Tx.

  3. @bobbieddie – you can find Etihad award space on the Etihad space (“Guest First”) and you can find Cathay Pacific space on the Qantas or British Airways website. Then call American to book. Or just call American and ask them to find it for you.

  4. What no one has released is that these discounts for purchase of AA miles is so much more then the US miles pre merger. US was giving 100k for 50k purchase which was worth it at about $1400 going back. This was worth it for a F or B long haul seat. Now there is a 50% price increase compared to AA’s prices (AA never gave the same prices even pre merger)

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