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).