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I know smugness really isn’t an attractive quality on anyone but I’m feeling a little pleased with myself right now. In the first week of November American Airlines launched yet another miles promotion in which it was offering a bonus of up to 100,000 miles and, at the time, I suggested that no one should be jumping on that deal. My reasoning was that it appeared as if American was simply regurgitating its promotions from 2016 so, if the pattern continued, we would see the bonus increased by 20% for Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
Well whaddaya know?! 🙂
American Airlines has now revealed a special Black Friday promotion in which it’s offering a 20% bigger bonus on miles purchases than the last promotion was offering.
- AAdvantage members must purchase at least 10,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction to be eligible for a bonus.
- Purchases must be made between 12:00:00am CT November 24, 2017 to 11:59:59pm CT November 27, 2017, to be eligible to earn bonus miles.
- The applicable bonus miles are awarded to the recipient for Gift Miles transactions.
- Transactions are non-refundable and non-reversible.
- Each AAdvantage member is limited to purchasing or receiving in a calendar year, a combined total of no more than 150,000 AAdvantage miles.
- Bonus miles earned do not count toward the annual purchase limits.
Here is how the promotion is structured:
Amusingly this is exactly the same promotion as they ran in 2016 (as I predicted) so clearly they’re not wasting any time at AAdvantage HQ coming up with new ideas (well…not good ideas anyway).
As with a number of previous promotions you get the best cost/mile buy buying the minimum number of miles in each band. I.e don’t buy 149,000 miles, buy 100,000 miles….you’ll be paying less per mile.
To get the cheapest price/mile you’ll need to buy the maximum amount allowable – 150,000 miles – which will cost you $4,786.88:
$4,786.88 will net you 270,000 AAdvantage miles after the bonus is factored in and brings the cost to 1.77 cents per mile.
Should You Buy AAdvantage Miles At This Level
1.77 cents/mile may not be the cheapest rate at which we’ve ever seen American sell miles…but it’s not that far off (they were offered at 1.72 cents each back in July)
As this is one of the cheapest prices we’ve seen for AAdvantage miles now is as good a time as any to buy if you’re so inclined….but that’s doesn’t mean that I think you should.
The biggest problem I have with buying AAdvantage miles is that they’re so incredibly hard to use economically on American Airlines – the airline just doesn’t release SAAver award inventory very often (certainly not for international premium cabin travel).
Besides, even if SAAver awards were available I’m not sure they’re that good of a deal any more.
American offers Business Class SAAver awards between the US and Europe at 115,000 roundtrip and those miles would cost around $2,035 in this promotion. That’s hardly spectacular when Business Class cash fares can often be found for under $2,000.
The value to/from Asia would be better as those routes generally see fewer good Business Class sales…but you still have the issue of finding award space in the first place.
You may be able to get value from some of American’s partner awards….but even that’s a lot harder to do nowadays courtesy of the devaluations we’ve seen to the award charts.
One of the better value propositions is probably a roundtrip Qatar Airways Business Class award from the US to the Middle East for 140,000 miles. In this promotion that would set you back $2,478 and that’s not a bad price at all.
Other awards that could be considered worthwhile are JAL Business Class and First Class awards to Tokyo (120,000 and 180,000 miles respectively for a roundtrip). $2,124 isn’t bad for a Business Class roundtrip and $3,186 is pretty good for JAL’s First Class product too.
Something That May Make This Deal Better
American Airlines processes its own miles transactions so, if you have a credit card that offers you a bonus for spending in with an airline or on travel in general, you can rack up a good number of bonus points/miles through this promotion.
Personally I would use my Amex Platinum personal card if I was going to buy miles here as 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar sweetens the deal quite nicely (and Membership Rewards points can be used both economically and easily).
Despite the fact that this is one of the cheapest rates we’ve seen American sell miles recently I still wouldn’t buy any miles speculatively – there’s no guarantee that SAAver awards will be released and there’s no guarantee that American won’t reprice the award charts before you get to use the miles (I still think we’ll see a devaluation when Premium Economy awards become available).
If you can see that an award you want to book is actually available and if the math shows the price you’re paying for the miles makes it a good deal, then by all means buy all the miles you need….but please don’t buy AAdvantage miles in the hope that you’ll find some great way to use them down the line.