Lowest-Ever Price to Buy American Miles Now Through August 1

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Ever since US Airways management took over at American, AAdvantage sells miles the way that US Airways used to. Regular price only seems to exist to promote discounts against. Miles are usually sold with a bonus, a discount, or both — not regular price.

Frequently they sell miles at around 1.88 cents apiece. Once in awhile they get that down to 1.77. Only twice before that I’ve seen have they sold miles at 1.72 cents each. First in June 2016, then again in 2017, and now the offer is back. It ran in June, now it’s extended through August 1. It’s almost like they’re losing creativity in these sales.

Back before American devalued their miles in March 2016 I’d have considered this a good price. Now their miles are worth less than 1.72 cents each. However I know that some of you find value in buying lots of miles for business class redemptions to Asia. And of course it’s always better to get a better deal on miles than a worse deal if you need to top off an account anyway.

Here’s the bonus and discount chart:

Buying 150,000 miles yields a 100,000 mile bonus and a 10% discount. That means you’re buying 250,000 miles for $4311.19. That’s 1.724476 per mile.

In theory at least if you use your miles for international travel you should be able to get the 7.5% excise tax back.

American Boeing 787-9 Business Class

American lets you put awards on hold for 5 days under most circumstances. So you can secure awards, then buy the miles, then go back to ticket.

American processes these transactions themselves. As a result purchases count as bonusable spend for credit cards that give extra miles for airline purchases. The Platinum Card by American Express earns 5 miles per dollar spent directly with an airline.

Terms and conditions:

To be eligible for a the bonus miles and discount AAdvantage members must purchase 11,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction from the Buy or Gift Miles program beginning 12:00:00am CT on July 1, 2018 to 11:59:59pm CT on August 1, 2018. The prices shown include the discount. The discount applies to the AAdvantage miles purchased and does not apply towards taxes or the $35 transaction processing fee. The bonus miles earned are calculated based on each individual purchase amount and the corresponding bonus award. Bonus miles earned do not count toward the annual purchase limits. The applicable bonus miles are awarded to the recipient for Gift Miles transactions.

The miles purchased with the Buy Miles program and received with the Gift Miles program do not count towards AAdvantage Gold, AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, AAdvantage Executive Platinum or AAdvantage Million MilerSM status qualification. Transactions are nonrefundable and nonreversible. The miles successfully purchased or transferred usually post to the designated account right away, but please allow up to 8 hours for processing. Each AAdvantage member is limited to purchasing or receiving in a calendar year, a combined total of no more than 150,000 AAdvantage miles. Miles purchased through the Buy Miles program or received as a gift through the Gift Miles program count against this total. A confirmation email will be sent to the primary buyer/gifter and/or recipient, using the email address(es) associated with the AAdvantage account(s) and any additional email address provided. AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old are not permitted to Buy or Gift Miles. Prices are in U.S. dollars and do not include applicable taxes or $30 per transaction processing charge. The promotion, pricing and/or fee to Buy, Gift or Share Miles is subject to change without notice. Your credit card company may add a currency conversion fee.

(HT: JT Genter)

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. I need 20k miles for a redemption. I have some AA gift cards that I bought with the amex plat airline credit. Can I user those gift cards to pay for the airline miles?

  2. Is there any viable way to get from Australia to Ord on a partner airline, eg Etihad or Qatar? I have a ton of American miles already and am traveling with my two kids this week. I have options on UA but would use my American points (including buying some with this promotion) to try something different.

  3. @Mick,

    Only if you buy 2 separate awards per person. You can route Europe-Doha-Oz on Qatar for only 80,000 per person (1 award segment) using AA miles but you can’t get back to US mainland. You could check Cathay Pacific for business class routing through HKG. I think those are 60,000 per person and you can try to get to ORD that way. Others will correct me, but I am pretty sure that is only way.

  4. I would be a big buyer and anything under 0.8 cents each. I would even go to 0.82 if Parker would agree to fly in the lav

  5. @ Gary – I’m a CPA, and a long time reader, and I have looked into your question regarding the 7.5% excise tax refund question.

    The excise tax can only be refunded to the entity that paid it over to the government. In other words, the domestic airline and only for miles purchased and used for flights starting and ending outside of the United States, it’s territories, and common wealth. Good luck with getting any domestic airline to put the $$$ in that IT.

    In regards to the IRS proposal, it strictly deals with business to business. For example, currently Credit Card Companies purchase miles and pay the excise tax and have the option to pass it along to their card members or not (cost of doing business). The proposal would allow the domestic airlines to reduce the excise tax on the Credit Car Companies purchases.

    Gary, it was a nice thought. Keep up the good work. I love your blog.

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