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American Airlines has launched yet another sale of its miles (the last sale ended on 26 November) but, unusually for the airline, this latest sale comes with an interesting and important twist – the bonus on offer will decrease every day through 15 December 2018 so the sooner you buy the better the deal is.
- To be eligible for a the bonus miles AAdvantage members must purchase at least 12,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction.
- Sale runs from 12:00:00am CT December 4, 2018 to 11:59:59pm CT January 6, 2019
- Bonus amounts will change daily December 4 – 15, 2018
- Each AAdvantage member is limited to purchasing or receiving in a calendar year, a combined total of no more than 150,000 AAdvantage miles. Miles purchased through the Buy Miles program or received as a gift through the Gift Miles program count against this total.
- Bonus miles earned do not count toward the annual purchase limits.
- The miles purchased with the Buy Miles program and received with the Gift Miles program do not count towards AAdvantage Gold, AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, AAdvantage Executive Platinum or AAdvantage Million Miler status qualification.
- Transactions are nonrefundable and nonreversible.
- AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old are not permitted to Buy or Gift Miles.
Today, 4 December, the sale structure looks like this – it will be different tomorrow.
So what does the math look like if you buy miles today?
Well, as usual you’ll achieve the best cost/mile by buying the minimum number of miles in each band so, for example, you’ll pay less per mile if you buy 50,000 miles rather than 74,000 miles.
To buy miles at the cheapest rate available you’ll have to buy the maximum amount allowed – 150,000 miles.
150,000 miles will cost $4,791.88….
…and will net you 270,000 AAdvantage miles (including bonus).
This makes the cost/mile come out to just 1.77 cents.
Should You Buy AAdvantage Miles At This Level
1.77 cents/mile is almost the cheapest rate at which we’ve ever seen American Airlines sell its currency (they’ve been on offer at 1.72 cents each in the past) and it’s what they were on sale for during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period so don’t expect to be able to pick them up much cheaper on some other occasion.
As always I have a big issue with AAdvantage Miles and that’s because they’re incredibly hard to use economically on American Airlines itself – international SAAver award inventory doesn’t get released very often very often and, when it does, it’s usually still very hard to book a roundtrip.
It’s also worth pointing out that even if SAAver awards were available to book they’re not necessarily a fantastic deal any more.
It costs 115,000 miles to book a roundtrip Business Class SAAver award between the US and Europe and those miles would cost approximately $2,035 in this promotion.
That’s hardly spectacular value when Business Class cash fares (on which you’ll earn miles and elite credits) can often be found for under $2,000.
The value to/from Asia will be better as these routes usually see fewer good Business Class sales…but you still have the issue of finding award space in the first place.
Your best chance at getting value here will probably be from booking awards on one of American’s partner airlines.
Etihad can be a very good option (especially if you book the A380) as can Cathay Pacific First Class but one of the best value awards is probably a roundtrip Qatar Airways Business Class award from the US to the Middle East for 140,000 miles. The Qatar Airways A380 is very nice and if you can find Qsuite availability (on the A350 or 777) that would be amazing.
In this promotion that roundtrip Qatar Airways award 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.
With the Platinum Card from American Express offering 5 points/dollar spent directly with airlines that’s the card I would choose to use if buying miles in this sale but the 3 points/dollar on offer from the likes of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Citi Prestige and the Citi Premier ThankYou card all offer very good alternatives too.
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 rework the award charts before you get to use the miles (I’m still waiting for a devaluation when Premium Economy awards are launched).
If you can see award availability and if the math shows that 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.
Don’t forget that the bonus American Airlines is offering is going to go down every day between today and 15 December so the cost per mile will be increasing – if you’re going to buy, buy soon!