New Barclaycard Flight Cents Program Sells Up to 50,000 American Miles a Month for 1 Cent Apiece

Barclaycard has upped the signup bonus on their AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard to 60,000 miles after first purchase (annual fee is not waived first year).

They’re also experimenting with a new program that lets you earn miles faster. I logged into my account today — I have an Aviator Silver card that lets you earn elite qualifying miles for spend, you can’t apply directly for it but have to upgrade an Aviator Red — and found an offer for a new program they’re testing.

It’s called Flight Cents and it will sell you miles for a penny apiece when you make purchases.

The way it works is if you make a charge for $3.25 they’ll charge you $4. The extra 75 cents buys 75 miles, a cost of 1 cent per mile. You choose the maximum amount they’ll apply this methodology to, up to $500 per month (which means buying up to 50,000 miles a month at a cost of $500).

American AAdvantage miles aren’t worth what they used to be, but I still consider them worth more than a penny indeed I’m a buyer at one cent apiece in spite of the seven figure balance I already have.

This pilot runs October 1 through March 31. No doubt they’ll see if this gooses frequency of use by AAdvantage Aviator cardmembers in determining whether to roll it out more broadly.

Currently I use the card for a few large purchases so that I earn both 10,000 elite qualifying miles and 6000 elite qualifying dollars. I don’t spend more than that or make small purchases with the card because my primary goal isn’t earning AAdvantage miles. This offer does make using the card more compelling.

In any case the card is better with the program than without it so I did take the opportunity to enroll. If you currently have the card it’s worth logging into your account to see whether you’re targeted as well.

Terms and conditions:

Offer is valid for select cardmembers and is not transferable. Eligible cardmembers who register for the Flight Cents pilot by September 30, 2017, will have each transaction rounded up to the nearest dollar and the rounded up charge will be used to acquire American Airlines AAdvantage® miles. The pilot will run from October 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018. To be eligible for this pilot, the cardmember’s account must be open, active and in good standing throughout the entire pilot period. Purchases made during periods when the account is delinquent, or the account is otherwise not in good standing as defined in your Cardmember Agreement do not qualify for this offer.

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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  1. I logged in and I have an Aviator Red not sure that makes any difference but by my offer is different than yours. My multiplier is 50% so I would be paying 2 cents/mile. Meh.

  2. @Ed AAdvantage miles have been massively devalued already. I barely consider them worth over 1 cent. I would not purchase at 1 cent unless I had a short term high value use in mind. So I don’t see a mad rush of people falling all over themselves to gain a small fractional value of a cent benefit and even then just on the “round it up to the next dollar” portion of any given purchase. In the bigger scheme of things, this is peanuts.

  3. I have an Aviator Silver but also received the 50% multiplier offer. I’m guessing they are testing various multipliers to gauge the market. I signed up for the offer to check it out but at 2 cents/mile it is probably not worth continuing.

  4. At 1 cent per mile, you could buy the 170000 miles needed to fly BA in F class RT for $1700 USD. Not bad.

  5. If I understand it correctly, it rounds up each transaction, so to max out at $500, you will need probably in the region of 75-100 transactions per month. This is quite clever as what they really want is lots of smaller transactions rather than a couple of very high value ones.

  6. Barclaycard also does this with their jetBlue credit card. and rounding up all purchases to the nearest dollar in jetBlue points.

  7. No.

    I’m a silver, and the 50% multiplier is there as well.
    So it’s 2 cents a mile. which is a VERY poor price for the miles

    If you take a close look at the page, it shows the coffee example, rounded up 90 cents, then the 50% multiplier resulting in 45 miles.

    No thanks!

    OTOH, I did drop $4K on the August Buy Miles promotion. in the end, nearly 250K miles (150K + 85K bonus + 3x spend credit), which all counts toward my spend goad of $50K on the silver. (which gives me the 10K elite mile bonus and the spend bonus)

    THAT

  8. If AA devalues any more (not saying they won’t) they could be the first airline program whose value goes under a penny. The present 1.2 cents valuation is generous.

    Personally I wish they’d either open up awards or set a ticket value of 1.5 cents like Southwest and Jet Blue. Not all of us play the biz class to Asia game.

    In fact I think they’ll adopt a Delta Sky Pesos approach- raise the price of available awards sky high.

  9. and Ill keep my spend on the AmEx Blue for Biz which is free and earns 2 points per dollar spent everywhere (1st 50K) and usually has bonus airline transfers like the 40% BA going on now. Equals 2.8 miles per dollar spent on a no-fee card.

  10. @tassojunior. I agree and that’s why I think this is a real niche kind of deal, not going to be of value to many. Maybe the people who are constantly charging $1.01 purchases to a credit card several times a day, for example. There are better ways to acquire AA miles, and better ways to acquire miles worth more than AA miles are now.

    Acquiring 50,000 miles would require 505 separate transactions in which the “cents” part of the purchase is exactly .01, since 99 miles is the maximum per transaction. And that doesn’t mean getting the miles free – it means paying 1 cent each for them, just a mild discount to their actual value. (And it also means the opportunity cost of passing up your 2% on the entire purchase, not just the “cents” part.)

  11. I have the silver card as well, have already earned the maximum EQM for the year. I don’t seem to have this offer on my account.

  12. While 1 AA mile per $0.01 is not bad, it looks like this offer is valid for Silver Cardholders only. Personally, I only keep the Red Card because of 10,000 AA kickback each year from award redemption (all that for $95).

    Personally, I do not see the point in wasting money on the Silver Card (and also mostly worthless AA miles). Right now I am at ca. 140K EQM and 16K EQD without any CC spending and also AA Club member. So I do have all the CC benefits already. Would Barclay or Citi consider a product that would be useful/attractive to me?

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