[SIMPLYMILES GONE AGAIN!]: AAdvantage Miles @ $0.0042 Apiece

Update: 12/29/21 1:02 p.m. Eastern: Gone ahead. Don’t worry. They clearly have the miles data, but didn’t load all of it since there were reports of missing transactions (that were there the first time). If I had to guess – and I did not check with American – they need to remove the data, check it, and reload. I am confident this will get sorted out.

Update: 12/29/21 7:54 a.m. Eastern: Per several commenters Tuesday morning Conservation International transactions which took place before the offer was pulled are now showing up with bonuses. However purchases from other vendors done before the cutoff, but that posted with later transaction dates, do not. Still interested in more data points – thank you!

Update: 12/29/21 6:37 a.m. Eastern: And miles are back in SimplyMiles accounts (not yet in AAdvantage accounts at aa.com).

Curious to hear from readers whether Tuesday morning transactions are reflected now, and whether any transactions with merchants other than Conservation International done while the promo was alive but that posted with dates after it ended have received bonuses?

Update: 12/27/21 7:48 p.m. Eastern: And just like that miles have disappeared. I am not panicking. The fact that they posted the miles suggests they have the data! They didn’t post Tuesday morning transactions initially even though they had promised to honor the deal up until the time it was officially pulled. (And some transactions that were done prior to the deal being pulled – for things other than the charity offer – posted with later dates without the bonus.)

I’m confident miles will come back, hopefully fixing some of the initial problems. Let’s all see what materializes on Tuesday.

Update: 12/27/21: I’ve been checking my account every day, sometimes twice a day – usually first thing in the morning (in case anything posted overnight) and then again midday. Miles are finally showing up as pending on the SimplyMiles site! The miles don’t show up in your AAdvantage account yet. That’s fine. That’ll take days or weeks. But this is real progress.

The deal of the year allowed you to buy American AAdvantage miles for less than half a cent apiece, which is unprecedented – taking advantage of an opportunity to earn 40 miles per dollar on a donation to Conservation International through Mastercard, combined with an end of year quintuple miles bonus – together that meant earning 240 miles per dollar spent. See this post for full details.

The response was huge. The deal was supposed to last through December 27th or “while supplies last.” It was shut down mere days after launch, on Tuesday morning December 14th.

Initially American Airlines put up a notice saying they were honoring transactions through Sunday night – even though they’d continued to promote the offer for nearly a day and a half after that. That notice was taken down. And we’ve had to wait while American and Mastercard, who partner on SimplyMiles, worked out what to do.

Good news. It took a little bit of time, but American Airlines shared with me that the deal will be fully honored for transactions made through the point at which they took down the offer.

We are pleased to credit AAdvantage accounts with miles for those customers who activated the SimplyMiles 5X promotion and made purchases and donations by 10 a.m. CT on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. We are excited that members are able to use the SimplyMiles platform to earn AAdvantage miles on every day purchases.

Congratulations to everyone who got in on this deal. It’s hard to overstate just how incredible this offer was. And kudos to American Airlines and Mastercard for honoring the offer made to customers even if it might have been considered “too good to be true.”

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Congrats Gary if that was your haul….impressive!

    I appreciate your coverage of this deal. Your post Monday of that week is what got me jump in. While I wish I would have gone bigger, it’s nice to get a little taste of the deal of the year (possibly decade)

  2. Seems like I already have an issue. I bought into the conservation deal which seems to be posting fine at first glance but I also did a Vinesse wine, GoPro, and some others on 12-12 and mostly 12-13. These are also posted on Simplymiles but with dates like 12-18 etc. The later dates are even later than when the shipping date was confirmed. Now I’m going to have to fight for those. What a pain.

  3. Congrats Gary and thank you for all your work on this.

    Countdown to OMAAT posting something greater than Gary’s and subtly bragging about how he has the flexibility to do so.

  4. Hopefully they stick to the 10am CT on 12/14. I did the transaction that morning and received the Mastercard Donate email at 9:3.3 ET. The base miles (x40) posted with an extra 1 mile but the 5x multiple hasn’t posted. Transaction from 12/13 posted correctly.

  5. While I have regrets I didn’t go for larger (only made a $225 donation) I made enough miles for my family of 4 to fly to San Francisco in business class for $225 (found milesaver flights for 17.5k per person!) jealous of those who created a slush fund for years for $5k.

  6. Thanks so much Gary for all your hard work keeping everyone updated. Quite honestly, it was YOUR blog and posts that gave most of the other bloggers and other readers to pull the trigger and make the donations. That’s a testament to the power and credibility of your website.

    Thanks so much. I really wish I donated a few more thousand of dollars but I wasn’t quite sure this would turn out well but it turned out spectacularly.

  7. Great for those that had the courage.
    I dipped my toe in, got 290k miles (in simply miles, not yet showing in AA.com)
    A worthy cause otherwise, I wouldn’t have dipped a toe.

    I do think I have to value my AA miles much less now, given the only standard TATLs involve a $750 copay from BA (east, west is not so bad). I guess 57.5K miles plus $750 is better than 330k miles which seems to be one of AAs favorite web specials for TATL from LAX.

  8. @Adam on the 12/14? So far those are posting without a bonus presumably because they need to check the time on the transaction since they will only honor up to a certain time on that day.

  9. @Elias 7 million is a lot of points but nothing like a lifetime of international business and first class travel especially with multiple people travelling.

  10. @ Gary — Would love to see your analysis on the impact this promotion may have on AA/OW redemptions.

  11. @gary I’ve seen everything post, including bonuses for CVS and Bedt Buy, except the bonus miles for Conservation International. The deal stated these may take 6-8 weeks but curious if anyone has seen these yet.

  12. Hopefully just the site updating but, my base and bonus miles were there this afternoon and have now disappeared with no activity showing during the bonus period.

  13. Ken, same here. I took a screen shot while the number displayed. This evening, zero.

    On a different AA site, there was a banner notice saying that maintenance was underway and point-related items might be affected.

    I think not to worry.

  14. The lack of a cap with this promotion leaves a sour taste. No-one needs 5 million plus miles, ESPECIALLY, not those with the disposable cash to drop $20k-plus as some did.

    It could have been an amazing promotion that so many more people could have benefited from. Unfortunately it was open to abuse, and, obviously people abused it. Good for those who scored a dozen or so premium cabin flights. Any more than that and you’re kind of selfish pr*cks.

    The scale of it makes all the other posts about how to get an extra 1 mile per dollar of gas etc look kind of dumb and pointless in comparison.

  15. Yep there earlier and now gone. Miles earned well before the recent deal are still showing for me.

  16. I made $150 in donations but haven’t seen any miles post at all on SimplyMiles or in my AA account. When should the miles post?

  17. You bought 7 million miles? How stupid. Don’t cry foul on devaluations and tightening criteria when you massively abuse a deal to this extreme. Perfect example of “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

  18. Something very strange is earlier today I showed on Simply Miles website the points that were going to post. Over 400,000. Now, I just looked and it says 0. Is anyone else seeing this??

  19. @Nathan AAdvantage has around a *trillion* miles outstanding, this is not material let alone a driver of devaluation, and AAdvantage is getting paid for these by Mastercard

  20. @Nathan does it matter how many miles one person bought? Mastercard was selling X amount of miles under the promotion. If 1 person bought or 1000 bought; it doesn’t matter. AA sold the miles to MC so any devaluation decision would be made at that point. People bought what they could afford or wanted and I’m sure you nor anyone else weren’t thinking let me leave miles for someone else to buy. If MC wanted to limit this they would have placed a cap. By the way, don’t forget that there is also a donation side to this…

  21. Nathan, let’s say that AA doubles the points required for every redemption. Not just a little devaluation — a big devaluation. The effective price of points under this deal goes from 0.42 cents to 0.84 cents. Would anyone buy AA miles at this price? I think yes. So, stow your insults. Who raised you to have such manners?

  22. A good lesson from Little League Baseball: winners and losers shake hands after the game.

    To everyone who is characterizing those who got it on the deal as selfish . . . the deal was published on all of the blogs for days. Anyone who regularly monitors the blogs had ample opportunity to take advantage of it. This was not one of those two-hour windows for Fairmont gift cards. Even when the deal was active, there were complainers. If someone missed it, too bad, monitor the blogs more frequently.

    If you missed it, know that there will be some other deal in the future that you get but others done. And, certainly, it would not be fair to characterize you as selfish when that happens.

  23. Just as good as everyone felt getting the miles, they must be crazy nervous right now. Gary, even though you say you aren’t nervous….you have to be a little nervous and if you say you’re not you’re probably not being honest.

  24. I am not nervous as I thought through what I was willing to put on the line (far less than Gary) and I have been through this before on other deals. In general in the past when deals like this fall through there has been an out that brought me back to where I started.

  25. How long does it take to redeem 7M miles, and if one books one’s flights using only miles, say for a year, wouldn’t one have a hard time maintaining top elite status?

    Hopefully, AA will make up with payment from MC for the forgone revenue due to folks redeeming premium cabin award tickets using the gazillion miles they got through this offer instead of purchasing revenue tickets…

    Everyone, including AA, has got to be a bit nervous about this holiday extravaganza…

  26. @DCS I travel internationally usually three trips a year in J or F. Two of those trips are just me and the third I have an additional person. Then there are some positioning flights or short haul flight overseas (when awards make sense over cash) and a few domestic flights. I burn between 500k and 700k airlines points per year. Seven million sounds like a lot and it is but it won’t as far as you think.

  27. @DCS – AA isn’t losing money printing these miles. And with Loyalty Points, where award flights on AA metal count towards the 30 flight minimum to earn choice rewards, you can earn as much as you need also with credit card and online shopping (and SimplyMiles!). How long to spend 7 million? If you have family in Australia and want to fly business class then a rulebuster 195,000 mile award each way is going to be about 1.2 million miles roundtrip for a family of 3… but would I pay $1600 for a business class ticket to Oz? Yes I would.

  28. @Gary Leff – Those who took advantage of the offer come out way ahead and should not be begrudged, if the offer is ultimately honored. However, based on my redemption pattern of at most 200K miles/year before the pandemic, it would take me 30+ years to redeem 7M miles! I’ve always earned and burned my airline miles yearly, doing just enough revenue travel to allow me to retain my top airline elite status while also earning redeemable miles that complement my transferable CC points — where I park most of my miles/points these days — to enable me to redeem free awards tickets for my leisure travel. Rinse and repeated yearly. I now have 340K UA miles, nearly 1M Chase UR/AMEX MR points, and 333K SQ miles because I took advantage of SQ’s offer to transfer bank points to KF miles to simultaneously earn a 15% redeemable bonus KF miles on the transferred bank points and enough elite KF miles to unlock the SQ KF Gold status (*A Gold) without flying — a status that just kicked in today and is good to 12/31/2022! Therefore, my priority over the next couple of year is to redeem, as a FK Gold for at least one year, the 333K SQ miles, which, unlike UA miles that don’t expire! or bank points (barring devaluation), have a limited “shelf life.” It is within that context that my previous comment should be understood.

    What I fail to see if how AA’s recent mile-O-rama benefits the airline’s bottom like. It costs them nothing to “print” the miles, but it may end up costing them plenty when the miles start to be redeemed for expensive revenue tickets that could have been sold for cash, and/or in the form of a huge financial liability that forces the airline to defer claiming as revenue the monetary value of the offer’s gazillion miles until these have been redeemed or forfeited — a situation that invariably leads airlines to limit awards availability (to sell more tickets) and/or to devalue their miles (to decrease the financial liability).

    Something’s got to give as a result of the “largesse”. Maybe this is what AA is now trying to figure out. The offer might have been a huge ‘mistake’, which I believe they will honor after they figure out how they can limit the ‘damage’…

  29. I had done an ATT Fiber deal the Fri or Sat when the deal first launched but wasn’t widely published (charge posted 12/11). That one did earn 5x. Then I did the charity and Winc, but the Winc deal hasn’t earned 5x (posted 12/14 on my credit card vs 12/13 for the charity).

  30. Mine are still posted with the same errors. I did a Vinesse wine, GoPro, and some others on 12-12 and mostly 12-13. These are also posted on Simplymiles but with dates like 12-18 etc. The later dates are even later than when the shipping date was confirmed. I sent an inquiry to SimplyMiles but have little optimism that this will be fixed anytime soon, sadly. I guess I shouldn’t complain since my Conservation “big” miles posted but I’m still missing about 50k’ish from those offers.

  31. @ DCS — Even if 50 billion miles were sold through this offer (seems unlikely, as that would be on spending of >$200 million), this “mistake” will only increase total outstanding mileage by <5%. Not a huge deal in the big picture. It seems that BA may soon be collecting lots of fees…

  32. None of my miles have posted at all, and I bought Monday night. Do you think there is a lag? I bought Conservation, Barnes and Noble and CVS

  33. I made a Best Buy >$300 at 10:45am EST on Tuesday the 14th—so according to the criteria given here it should good for the 5X bonus. It posted correctly at 2500 base miles. The bonus posted only at 1500. Shouldn’t the bonus be 12500?

  34. The Tuesday morning transaction did post for me today to SimplyMiles. Previously, only the transactions up to Tuesday had posted (and then disappeared). Now everything is fully correct.

  35. I did the Conservation International and Wine.com promos on Monday night 12/13. The CI is posting with the bonus however the Wine.com promo did not post with a bonus (missing out on 7,000 miles). The Wine.com shows a transaction date of Tuesday 12/14 – which is probably when the transaction settled.

  36. I think if I “purchased” a million miles for just north of $4k the only thing that would change is the 9k red eye would become the 45k non-stop that departs at 1 pm…… but some would say that is chasing a diminishing return…. it would be interesting to see how many folks who leveraged this deal change their consumer behavior (lottery winner?) ORD to BNA last month at @75k no way…. same flight next month sure…… in the end I don’t think tens of thousands of folks dropped thousands of dollars and this is nothing but another interesting story of an opportunity that came and went but I could be wrong…..

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