Buy Up to 127,500 American Miles for 2.14 Cents Per Mile

American AAdvantage is stacking a purchased miles bonus with a discount through July 13 that lets you buy miles for ~ 2.14 cents a mile.

I assume the two are combined in order to make it sound more exciting and a little more opaque in terms of doing the math.

Here’s the table showing the discount and bonus that applies at each tier of mileage purchase.

First you’ll see pricing without taxes. It appears as though you’re getting 127,500 miles for $2507.50. That would be 1.97 cents apiece.

However that pricing is before taxes and the ‘processing charge’ they asses for allowing you to buy their product.

All-in, the price is just shy of 2.14 cents apiece.

That’s a good price for buying American miles, as far as their offers go — American used to charge much more, US Airways charged less. The program seems to have adopted the US Airways model of almost always offering miles on sale, but doesn’t sell them quite as cheaply as they used to. (And American processes these transactions themselves, so it does count as bonusable spend for credit cards that give extra miles for airline purchases, since they’re no longer selling miles in bulk to Points.com with Points.com reselling them.)

In May the offer was ~ 2.1 cents, done as a straight discount. The nice thing about a bonus, though, rather than just a discount is that it allows you to exceed the annual 100,000 mile cap on purchased miles (since the bonus is separate from and above the cap).

Not a price at which I’m a buyer of miles. On average I value American miles at 1.7 cents.

They’re worth more if they put you over the top for a specific award. And they’re worth more if you redeem them for something you’d be willing to pay full or close to full price for otherwise.

To me they’re worth less because I have a large 7 figure balance of AAdvantage miles already, doubly so now that my US Airways miles have been combined into my American AAdvantage account.

That said,

  • American allows you to put awards on hold for 5 days. So you can secure award space before buying miles.

  • Business class between the US and Southeast Asia is just 110,000 miles roundtrip. Business class between the US and Europe is just 100,000 miles roundtrip. So it can make sense to buy miles for an award that’s currently available (although substantial advance purchase business class to Europe during off peak times can be less than $2000 paid)..


    Cathay Pacific first class is 67,500 miles one-way between the US and South Asia

This isn’t something everyone should jump on. But some people will find it a worthwhile bonus.

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. Sweet! That can get me a JFK-LAX F award for Thanksgiving weekend (AAnytime only, 115k miles each way), when the paid F seat is selling for $1867. Great deal!

  2. Hi, I have about 60,000 Delta skymiles and would like to travel to Europe, and visit Germany, Austria Italy, and would like to travel over to Cairo and see Egypt. From there go back home. Do you have any suggestions ion how I can do this with the least cost and of course use all of my skymiles.
    I will be starting from Sacrament, Ca.

    Thank you,

    Jim

  3. @Jim Pauley you should be able to book an economy award into one ciy and back from another and you’ll be on your own for travel within Europe with those miles.

  4. Would the purchase of miles from AA count as a travel expense with a Citi Prestige card, getting you the cost rebated by Citi?

  5. Could these miles also be used on partner airlines? (like Qantas). Sorry if it’s a silly question – I’m new to rewards programs.

  6. Brian: You can use AA miles on all one world carriers and AA partners such as etihad. Keep in mind, BA imposes heavy fuel surcharges.

  7. @Gary Leff, other than premium cabin awards, are there any coach awards where you can easily recover a 2cpm cost (versus a paid ticket)?

  8. would this be eligible as air travel credit for citi prestige? $250 annual bonus- would they detect this as miles purchase? did anyone try this?

  9. @John – You’re right about the cpm being lower by buying 76K miles than by buying 100K. In terms of getting more than 2 cpm of value out of AA miles for coach seats, I’d say that it’s certainly possible, especially on routes that have off-peak discounts. From where I live on the East Coast, Hawaii is almost always over $1100 round-trip, so the 45K miles in peak season, or (especially) the 35K miles in off-peak season are very good values. South America and Europe can be cheap on miles in the off-peak season, too.

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