Cheapest Price Ever on American AAdvantage Miles, 1.72 Cents Apiece

Through July 8 American is offering to sell you miles for as little as 1.72 cents, which is the lowest price I’ve seen.

Through July 8, save up to 10% when you buy or gift American Airlines AAdvantage® miles. Plus, you’ll earn up to 100,000 bonus miles when you buy miles for yourself, or add up to 100,000 bonus miles to your purchase when you gift miles to a friend or loved one. That’s a total of up to 250,000 miles.

Here’s the bonus chart, to maximize earning you need to buy 150,000 miles (and get 250,000).

That costs you a whopping $4311.19 but works out to 1.72 cents per mile.

It remains striking to me that you’re spending $4000 on their proprietary currency and they hit you with a $30 junk fee for agreeing to take your money. The tax law does seem to suggest, though, that you can get your 7.5% refunded if you don’t use your miles for domestic travel. I’d love for someone to go through the effort to get their taxes back and share their story.

1.72 cents per mile is the best price I’ve ever seen from American for miles. After last week’s program changes and the March 22 award chart devaluation perhaps they need to drop price in order to find buyers.

American pitched it as an amazing offer, worthy of the program’s 35th anniversary, when they were selling miles at 1.89 cents apiece last month. I think I’d be angry if I took AAdvantage of a ’35th anniversary special’ at 1.89 cents and then the very next month they dropped price further “’cause it’s June.”

Of course 1.8 – 2.1 cents a mile is “the new normal” with the airline running discounts on the sale of miles more often than not. They’ve imported the US Airways approach to selling miles, and even settled close to the US Airways price.

This can be useful though — especially to top off an account, but in some cases to buy premium cabin flights at a discount. 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.


If You Intend to Fly Coach It’s Unlikely This Will Be a Good Value

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

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.)

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. If they don’t devalue their funny money so deeply and without notice, I’d be tempted to keep some for use later this year.

  2. Gary you do a better job than Lucky of telling the truth about AA miles and their worth, but you should also mention that AA releases the least amount of award space in international premium cabins of any US airline. I find redeeming miles for AA-metal (premium international) near impossible, and their gutting of their award chart makes AA pretty much useless to me.

    AA can’t expect to sell miles and make money the way US Airways used to, when the value of their miles isn’t nearly as it was as Dividend Miles or pre-devaluation AA miles.

  3. I am afraid that the “new” AA should start looking for new customers not only for their devalued miles but also for the whole package offered by AAdvantage starting August 1.

  4. I am wondering why airlines and hotels are allowed to sell miles at first place. Basically, a company sells vouchers for future products which values are not determined and is subject to continuing devaluations. I am not aware of any businesses other than airlines and hotels doing this. Also, why there is a federal excise tax on the vouchers that could be used for something else like hotel and car rentals or as a co-pay for vacations? What if miles are not used at all? Why the federal excise tax is not paid on hotel points that could be transferred to airlines? Should such a tax be paid upon a transfer? What about customer protection and ability of returning purchased miles? Customers are clearly mislead by promises of service only to find out that there are no award tickets or the price is sky high. It is a kind of lottery because the outcome of the purchase is not known. With DL Skymiles, you will only know the result when you try to by an award ticket. But the lotteries are highly regulated…

  5. Or, for just a little bit more, those miles can come with travel to anywhere in the world!

    #revenuebased

  6. Ooooh! Great! Now I can use these miles for Business class awards to Australia on Qantas or AA!
    [checks availability…]
    Weeellll maybe this will get me to Europe for cheaper than a seat in coach would cost!
    [checks BA surcharges and OW availability…]

    Still no luck =(

    Oh, I’ve got it! I see wide open availability to use these miles to fly round-trip First Class to Manhattan, Kansas. From there, I can use my valuable AA miles to rent a minivan from Hertz to drag my family to a soul-crushing weekend in Topeka!

    Awesome!
    Thanks AA!

  7. @Alex77W I think you make some great comments (points). Remember when Alaska air let buyers of miles get a refund when they made that change to Emirates with zero notice.

  8. I’m curious how the value of this offer compares with the recent Avianca LifeMiles offer of 1.4 cents per mile. I know they are from a different alliance for one thing. However, I have little mileage commitment to any alliance right now, I have a smattering of miles all over the place. But I do have Star Alliance Gold status. For someone who travels international economy or economy plus, how do these two offers compare?

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