American Airlines Selling Miles At 1.72 Cents/Mile (Again) – Should You Buy?

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Since American Airlines was taken over by merged with US Airways we’ve, unsurprisingly, seen a lot of US Airways-type behavior from the joint entity. One type of behavior that stands out in particular is that the airline almost always has some kind of “offer” available to anyone who wants to buy AAdvantage Miles. The last offer ran out on 30 June so it’s not that surprising that we now have the airline’s latest promotion….which appears to be an extension of the one that just ended.

The Offer

a table with numbers and a few milesAs far as I can tell this is exactly the same offer that American ran in June (good to see they’re not wasting time being innovative) but, as AAdvantage miles are being sold as cheaply as we’ve ever seen, it may be worth taking another look.

The Headline T&Cs

You’ll find the full T&Cs on the offer page but here are the more important points:

  • To be eligible for a the bonus miles and discount AAdvantage members must purchase 11,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction from the Buy or Gift Miles program beginning 12:00:00am CT on July 3, 2017 to 11:59:59pm CT on July 31, 2017.
  • 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 MilerSM status qualification.
  • Transactions are nonrefundable and nonreversible.
  • 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.
  • AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old are not permitted to Buy or Gift Miles.

The Math

American Airlines prices up its “buy miles” offers in a convoluted way so it’s worth being careful with how many miles you buy – you could be paying more than you need to if you’re not paying attention.

Below is a table I pulled together showing the cost per mile of buying AAdvantage miles at the top and bottom of each band.

a table with numbers and a green background

So, for example, American Airlines’ first band is between 11,000 and 20,000 miles and, from the table above, you should be able to see that the cost per mile is cheaper if you buy 11,000 miles than it is if you buy 20,000.

This also means that there can be some pretty big differences in cost/mile despite there being only a very small difference in the number of miles being purchased:

  • If you were to buy 50,000 miles you would pay 2.65 cents/mile
  • If you were to buy 51,000 miles you would pay 2.25 cents/mile

Buying 50,000 miles turns out to be 18% more expensive (per mile) than buying 51,000 miles

That’s probably contrary to what you may expect as in most miles/points sales the more you buy the cheaper they are….so be careful.

The best price you’ll get is 1.72 cents/mile which is as cheap as we’ve seen AAdvantage miles offered in a regular promotion. To get this price you’ll have to buy the full 1150,000 allowance…..

a screenshot of a computer screen….which ,when you add in the taxes and fees, gives a cost of $4,311.19 for a total of 250,000 miles.

a white background with black text

Is It Worth It?

Probably not…but there are times when it may work for you.

To quote what I said the last time AAdvantage offered miles at this price:

In recent times the airline has:

  • Reduced the availability of premium SAAver Award availability on its own aircraft to levels where most travelers are having trouble finding a single award seat on routes they travel.
  • Reduced the availability of premium cabin upgrades to levels where most travelers are having trouble finding an upgrade they can purchase with miles on routes they travel.
  • Reduced the availability of Coach SAAver awards on various popular routes – in some extreme cases awards are never made available at all.
  • Increased the cost of awards on for travel on its own aircraft so, even if you could find an award seat, the value proposition is quite often simply not there.
  • Increased the cost of premium awards on partner airlines by significant margins (some awards increased in price by over 50%) making them a lot less attractive than in the past.

a seat in a planeAmerican Airlines 777-300ER Business Class seats would be a great use of miles….it’s just a shame SAAver awards are so hard to find

If you purchase American Airlines miles there is absolutely no guarantee that you’ll find award availability that suits your needs – either in Coach or in a premium cabin, on domestic or international routes.

If you can see that an award you’d like to book is available right now (or if your research tells you that the award you’re looking to book isn’t scarce) then buying miles at 1.72 cents each may be a good money saver….but under almost all other conditions it’s a lottery.

You could easily end up with a pot of AAdvantage miles that you subsequently struggle to use economically.


American Airlines sells its own miles so, if you can see a good reason for buying AAdvantage Miles in this promotion, make sure you use a credit card that will earn you a travel/airline category bonus.


  • Amex Platinum – 5 points/$
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – 3 points/$
  • Citi Prestige – 3 points/$

a credit card with a blue light

Bottom Line

I value American Airlines AAdvantage miles at under 1.25 cents each (mainly because they’re so hard to use on American Airlines) so I’m not exactly tempted at 1.72 cents (or anything higher).

If you can see an award online and it’s ready to be booked then work out how much the miles would cost you and compare it to the cash fare – roughly speaking that will give you an indication of how good or bad of a deal you’d be getting.

For everyone else I have the same advice as last time – Keep your money in your pocket and move on.