American Offers Two Discounted Miles Prices for You to Pick From. Are You Smart Enough to Know the Difference?

US Airways will regularly sell miles at 1.88 cents apiece. Those miles will become American AAdvantage miles sometime next year.

American, though, wants a hair over 2.3 cents per mile – at best – even with their new purchase miles bonus promotion.

Until July 31: Earn up to 16,500 bonus miles
Didn’t plan a summer getaway? Here is your chance to fuel your AAdvantage® account with the extra miles you need to squeeze in a summer break.

To get even this price you have to buy exactly the number of miles that qualifies for the bonus threshold. Buying more miles gets you the same bonus, meaning your cost per mile is actually higher.

US Airways has traditionally sold miles far less expensively than American has. They’ve made their miles more expensive, and in some ways their award chart more expensive as well, since merging with American. But it still seems strange at some level to continue to undercut American’s mileage pricing, although it may just be a matter of price discrimination and gradually shifting Dividend Miles member expectations.

Anyone making a longer term play for these miles presumably would pick the lower price. Except one also imagines that not everyone who would get American’s e-mail knows about the US Airways lower priced offers. In fact, with a combined membership of over 100 million people between the two programs, I’m quite confident that most do not.

The only scenaario where I would take American up on this offer is:

  • If I needed the miles for a specific award.
  • I put that award on hold, and then needed to top off the account.
  • I didn’t have Starwood points to transfer in to cover.

American will allow 5 day award holds. Purchased miles can take up to 48 hours to post. Starwood points post more quickly than they used to AAdvantage, such that it is possible to hold an award, transfer in points, and have those arrive in time to issue tickets.

Purchased points are serviced by Points.com, so purchase transactions do not earn credit card bonuses as airfare spend.


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. Has it been confirmed that US miles will become AA miles at a 1:1 ratio? Or is everyone just assuming?

  2. As usual, self-serving bloggers obscure the larger truth by arguing over unimportant details:

    These points are a sucker’s bet either way. It does not matter if you buy them at the higher or slightly lower price. The points are not worth either price, and in fact, are nearly worthless.

    Before you spend real money for these points, go try to do a sample booking and see what your points can get you. Go ahead, take a good look, I dare you.

    The bloggers won’t tell you how worthless these points are because if everyone knew, it would hurt their income generated from credit card referral fees.

  3. I disagree this is a bad deal. I have flown F class many times these past few years and even J class, savings were more than half listed price.
    I loooooved star alliance and sad to see it go. OW is much harder to book great locations and connections. Need more good airlines in OW.

  4. Yea I F&&$; up last time and tranferred, without any bonus. …. Honking I would get it. Dumb dodo. Got out of it three weeks later b

  5. wait till they merge
    miles will be 3 cents a mile on sale and the program devaluation will be brutal

  6. @Matteo, you miss the point entirely: things are NOT like they were a few years ago. They are not like they were last year. They are, in fact, completely different. I, too, have enjoyed good value from points in the past (over the past 20 years). Now, these points are utterly worthless, because of the massive devaluating (which, to their credit, the bloggers do mention), but also because of the stealth devaluations which NONE of the bloggers ever mention: that is, award availability has become horrible. Bad seats on bad plans with hellish connections – at double and triple the points – that’s now what’s available, IF you can get it. Award seat redemption is NOT at all like it was just 12 or 24 months ago. It used to require some effort but was possible to get good value from your points. Now it’s impossible – the airlines have done this intentionally.

    One can only speculate on why the airlines have all wrecked their programs. My guess is it’s because of the countless people now playing the game and hitting it hard, accumulating millions of points – all thanks to bloggers.

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