Lowest Price I’ve Ever Seen on American AAdvantage Purchased Miles: 50% Bonus and an Increase in the Number of Miles You’re Allowed to Buy

This is probably the best purchase miles offer I’ve seen from American in a long time. And not only is it a bigger bonus — up to 50%, through December 31 — but they’ve also temporarily increased the cap on purchases you can make. Normally they allow purchase of 40,000 miles per account in a single calendar year, but through the end of the year that’s increased to 60,000 miles. (Bonus miles earned from purchases do not count towards this limit.)

The number of miles purchased in a single transaction determines your bonus:

  • 5000 – 9999 miles purchased earns 1500 bonus miles
  • 10,000 – 14,000 miles purchased earns 3000 bonus miles
  • 15,000 – 19,000 miles purchased earns 4500 bonus miles
  • 20,000 – 29,000 miles purchased earns 10,000 bonus miles
  • 30,000 – 39,000 miles purchased earns 15,000 bonus miles
  • 40,000 – 49,000 miles purchased earns 20,000 bonus miles
  • 50,000 – 59,000 miles purchased earns 25,000 bonus miles
  • 60,000 miles purchased earns 30,000 bonus miles

The miles don’t post instantly, they say it can take 72 hours but usually takes less than that. Bonus miles don’t post right away, or with the purchased miles either, but can take up to 5 days. The offer applies to gifted miles as well.

As long as you are buying at least 20,000 miles — and buying the minimum number of miles in each band — then the offer lets you purchase miles at 2 cents apiece.

Here’s an example with 50,000 miles purchased.

  • Price of 50,000 miles: $1375
  • Taxes: $103.13
  • Processing fee: $35
  • Total miles received: 75,000
  • Total price: $1512.13
  • Cost per mile: $0.020175

This is almost a price where I’m a buyer, I’d still prefer to see the points about 10% less expensive, but it works under some circumstances – especially for topping off an account that already has miles in it in order to secure an award that you’re nearly ready to ticket.

The one challenge here I don’t like is the time to post the bonus. American allows 5 day award holds. That lets you put a reservation together before buying miles, so that there’s no risk involved that the award space will disappear after you’ve purchased the points but before you’ve secured the ticket. In theory you should be able to still do that here, that the bonus points will post before the reservation hold expires, but it’s still potentially cutting it too close for comfort.

Since I have a seven figure balance in my AAdvantage account, I won’t be making a purchase. Some will find this valuable, however. It’s reasonable to straight-up buy miles for premium cabin awards to some destinations. American allows one-way awards so you can book one direction each out of two different accounts for the same person. Rinse, repeat for each person making the trip (with the caveat that especially if last names don’t match I’ve been asked on occasion to pay taxes using a credit card with name matching that of the accountholder).

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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Comments

  1. @Dave — Sure, but the purchase does not count as a purchase from AA, but rather from points.com, so no double miles.

  2. So if I’ve already purchased 40,000 miles earlier this year (dammit!), then I’m only allowed to purchase 20,000 miles under this current promotion? (Do they truly keep track?) Or, can I try for all 60,000?

  3. Tempting but not cheap enough for me to go all in. Maybe once they merge I can roll my dividend miles over 🙂

  4. I have got to ask how you have attiained a seven figure balance in AA. That would be a good article. Do you fly that often with them or is it cc spend/Bonus?

  5. Using your example you would spend $3000 for 100k miles, which will get you roundtrip business class from USA to many destinations in Europe and south america. However you have to compare with paid business class tickets that can currently be had for <$2000 thanks to winter holiday sales.
    Ergo maybe a good deal if you can find a peak summer season travel dates. But horrendous for economy class or domestic travel.

  6. @Victor

    Back then, you could churn AA credit card every sixty days. Depending on the signup bonus, you could get anywhere from 30k to 100k per churn of the personal and business AA cards. In 3 years, including spending, flying, and other earnings, that’s 7 figures.

  7. This means a value in miles of an EY F award, India-Europe is $800, and you can outright buy the miles for a oneworld Zone 4 C award (up to 10K miles, multiple stopovers) for ~$1800.

    I’d say those are some pretty decent values if you wanted to outright buy and burn (as opposed to burning the miles on a Europe r/t business award).

  8. Agreed. Please provide some information about the 7 figure balance. It sounds like it’s not low 7 figures…would love to know how you did that.

  9. I’m an Executive Platinum, so lots of miles from flying. I used to churn the credit card regularly. I’ve been using BankDirect since July 2003. Lots of things driving the mileage balance..

  10. @Boraxo – “However you have to compare with paid business class tickets that can currently be had for <$2000 thanks to winter holiday sales."

    Any current examples? AA PEK fare is long gone.

    Cheers.

  11. Hi

    I bought 60,000 AA miles each of my 2 accounts last Dec…Is it possible to merge the 2 accounts? Thanks….

  12. I’m never keen on making mileage buys when you can earn lots of miles for credit card sign ups. Whether it’s $95 for 100,000 BA Avios or $450 for 100,000 Amex, these mileage ‘deals’ offered by the airline seem like a dumb buy.
    Now if you have issues getting a credit card with a hugh sign up bonus, the ‘deal’ may make sense. YMMV.

  13. @Jeff @Victor, to get a 7 figure mileage balance, the bloggers put their personal and business expenses on credit cards. They also bill their clients, somewhat ‘gaming’ the system. 😉

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