In mid-November American offered a purchase miles bonus through November 30 that they extended through January 4 which allowed you to buy miles at 2 cents apiece.
American AAdvantage has certainly brought over the US Airways approach to selling miles into the merged airline. US Airways ran a sale pretty much every month, and their price point towards the end was a consistent 1.88 cents per mile.
Of course 1.8 cents was a better deal three months ago, before the devaluation.
These People are Very Happy: their Old Mileage Balances are Worth Less, But Now They Can Buy More!
Buy American Miles for 1.8 Cents Apiece
They’ll award you with a 76.7% bonus — 115,000 bonus miles — when you buy 150,000 miles. That translates to price of 1.8 cents per mile.
Here’s the bonus chart:
The key to the offer is maxing out the promotion to get the ~ 77% bonus.
Of course nearly $5000 worth of miles is a ton to buy, even at less than two cents apiece, unless you’re confident of using them right away.
Fortunately 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.
This is hardly your only shot at buying miles at a ‘discount’, this seems to be the new normal, offering miles for sale between 1.8 and 2.2 cents apiece more often than not.
This is not a price at which I’m a buyer of miles. Of course the miles are worth more than that 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.
Incremental American miles are worth less than that to me because I have a large 7 figure balance of AAdvantage miles already. More miles are worth less at the margin because I won’t likely use any that I add to my account any time in the near future, let alone by the March 22 changes that affect me the most since I tend to redeem for international first class awards.
Purchases Count as Airline Spend
One change since the merger is that unlike US Airways, American processes these transactions themselves. As a result purchases count as bonusable spend for credit cards that give extra miles for airline purchases. (US Airways sold miles via Points.com, who processed the transactions.)
You Can Get Real Value Though
Secure your award space before buying miles.
Business class between the US and Europe is still just 115,000 miles roundtrip. Focus on Iberia or airberlin availability to avoid fuel surcharges, or American’s own flights on 787s, 777-300ERs, and reconfigured 777-200s for the best experience. 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).
American Boeing 787 Business Class
This isn’t something everyone should jump on. But some people will find it a worthwhile bonus.