Buy American Miles for Just 2 Cents Apiece Through Monday

In mid-November American offered a purchase miles bonus that I thought was a bit disingenuous to tie to ‘Cyber Monday’. It was still a good deal as far as purchase miles bonuses go, just not credible to call a “second half of November sale” a Cyber Monday deal. And indeed they extended the offer through January 4.

Now US Airways Dividend Miles American AAdvantage is back selling miles at a discount, and again with a bit of a confusing offer — this time offering a stackable bonus and a discount, which I suspect just makes things more confusing, but does allow you to buy 142,500 miles at 2 cents apiece.

American AAdvantage regularly now runs purchase miles bonuses, and the price is often only marginally more than this. (Here was their offer from May, from July, and from October.) And they even recently sold miles for 1.8 cents apiece.

Nonetheless, here’s how the offer works. There are tiered bonuses (that run through February) and a 10% discount through February 8. Here’s the chart:

The lowest amount in each bonus tier represents the best deal, and the higher the tier the (slightly) better the percentage bonus.

Buying 100,000 miles and receiving 142,500 yields the best price of 2.02 cents per mile (though possibly even lower since you may be able to get the tax refunded..):

That’s a good deal on American AAdvantage miles as far as it goes, most mileage sales that AAdvantage offer ~ 2.1 cents a mile at best. US Airways stopped selling miles at 1.88 cents apiece 14 months ago. But American has been more aggressive selling miles than they were pre-merger just like the good old US Airways days.

One change though since the merger is that unlike US Airways, American processes these transactions themselves. As a result purchases count as bonusable spend for credit cards that give extra miles for airline purchases. (US Airways sold miles via, who processed the transactions.)

Noentheless, this is not a price at which I’m a buyer of miles. That’s more than what American miles are worth in most cases.

Of course the miles are worth more than that 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.

Incremental American miles are worth less than that to me because I have a large 7 figure balance of AAdvantage miles already. More miles are worth less at the margin because I won’t likely use any that I add to my account any time in the near future, let alone by the March 22 changes that affect me the most since I tend to redeem for international first class awards.

Real value is possible though:

  • 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 (with fuel surcharges if you fly British Airways, so focus on Iberia or airberlin availability). 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 still 67,500 miles one-way between the US and South Asia

    Etihad First Apartment is 90,000 miles one-way US to Middle East (or beyond to the Indian Subcontinent) until March 22

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. This offer also includes gifting miles (transferring). What’s the best way to consolidate miles in various family member accounts? This?

  2. Hey Gary,

    One could get these at 1.9 cents a mile if you split your purchase in two and maxed out to the 150,000 per year limit. 50,000+15,000=$1327.50 and 100,000+142,500=$2655.00. That’s 207,500 miles for $3982.50. And in case you were wondering, the bonus miles don’t towards the limit as per their terms and conditions. “Bonus miles earned do not count toward the annual limits.”

  3. Why would you ever tout such a bad deal as buying miles? Example: 25,000 AA miles for a domestic round trip. At $0.02 per mile, that would cost $500. I can always buy domestic tickets for much less than that….. and earn more miles, too.

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