American Airlines Bonus on Purchased Miles is Back

American is offering 2000 bonus miles per 6000 miles you purchase, up to 12,000 bonus miles total, through November 15th.

That works out to be a one-third bonus (as long as you buy the right number of miles).

That’s still too expensive, in my view, unless you specifically need to top off towards a particular award.

Here’s how the cost breaks down:

  • 36,000 miles purchased earns 12,000 bonus miles, for a total of 48,000 miles.
  • That purchase costs $990 + 7.5% tax + $35 transaction fee, for a total of $1099.25.
  • That comes to 2.3 cents per mile.

Now, I value American miles highly. I love them for international first class awards on Cathay Pacific, Etihad, and British Airways (this last with fuel surcharges). And their distance-based awards can offer tremendous advantages.

But buying an award at that price is just costly — you can’t buy 100,000 miles this way, but if you could it would be $2300 for a transatlantic business class ticket (plus taxes on the award) and that’s subject to capacity controls more restrictive than an advance purchase off-season business fare. Just doesn’t compare favorably.

I think that miles need to be under 2 cents before I’ll consider a straight-up purchase. Even the 100% bonus on US Airways miles is a little pricey for me at almost 1.9 cents a mile.

Still, some will value this — for instance if you’re just short of having enough miles for a premium cabin international award, the extra cost for a few miles can make sense.

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, 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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