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American Airlines has followed up its Black Friday flight promotion with a new mileage sale in which it’s selling its currency at one of the lowest rates we’ve seen. At 1.75 cents/mile, this may actually be an AAdvantage sale that’s worth considering.
The Sale Structure
Rather than offering bonus miles (as it often does), American Airlines is offering a discount on the cost of its miles this Black Friday. Unsurprisingly, the more miles you buy the better the discount on offer.
- Buy 2,000 – 4,000 miles and get 5% off
- Buy 5,000 – 9,000 miles and get 5% off
- Buy 10,000 – 14,000 miles and get 5% off
- Buy 15,000 – 19,000 miles and get 5% off
- Buy 20,000 – 24,000 miles and get 5% off
- Buy 25,000 – 29,000 miles and get 5% off
- Buy 30,000 – 34,000 miles and get 5% off
- Buy 35,000 – 49,000 miles and get 5% off
- Buy 50,000 – 64,000 miles and get 5% off
- Buy 65,000 – 200,000 miles and get 5% off
The one disadvantage of this promotion’s structure is that the maximum number of miles on offer is 200,000 – in promotions where American Airlines offers a 100% bonus, the maximum is usually 300,000.
- AAdvantage members must purchase at least 2,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction to qualify for a discount.
- The sale runs from 12:00:00am CT November 27, 2020 to 11:59:59pm CT November 30, 2020
- Offers to eligible members may vary and are subject to change by American without notice*
- Transactions are nonrefundable and nonreversible.
- The miles successfully purchased usually post to the designated account right away, but please allow up to 8 hours for processing.
- Prices are in U.S. dollars and do not include taxes or the applicable per transaction processing charge.
- Miles purchased, transferred, or received as a gift do not count toward elite-status qualification.
- Members may purchase for themselves or receive as a gift, a maximum combined total of 150,000 AAdvantage miles in a calendar year.
- Bonus miles do not count towards the annual limit.
*This would appear to suggest that the promotion is targeted but I have yet to see any evidence of anyone being offered anything other than the promotion I outlined above.
Full terms and conditions can be found on the promotion page.
Unusually, for American Airlines, the cost per mile doesn’t vary within each of the discount bands. What this means is that you can choose to buy as few as 65,000 miles…
…or as many as 200,000 miles…
….and you’ll still be buying miles at the best rate this promotion offers – 1.75 cents each.
Earlier in the year (when blind panic was setting in across the airline industry), American Airlines offered up a sale in which you could pick up 300,000 miles at just 1.6 cents each. That’s the lowest rate at which we have ever seen American sell AAdvantage Miles so we know that this isn’t the best-ever rate that’s on offer right now…but it may be the best rate that we see for a while.
I was reasonably confident that American’s last mileage sale (in which it sold miles at 1.82 cents each) would not be the best deal that we’d see between then and the end of the year, but now I’m not sure we’re going to see American offer a better deal than this one in 2020…and possibly not even in 2021.
Obviously, if you have no immediate use for any AAdvantage Miles that you may buy, you shouldn’t be taking part in this sale. No matter how good the deal may appear to be, it’s a bad idea to stockpile miles at the best of times, so it’s certainly not a good idea now (my golden rule applies).
However, having said that, if you can find awards that you’re happy to book (and you have checked that you can travel to the destination(s) of your choice), buying miles at 1.75 cents each could be a nice money saver.
Assuming awards are available, a roundtrip Business Class fare to Europe would start at $2,012 + taxes/fees (115,000 miles), a roundtrip Business Class to the furthest reaches of South America to which American Airlines offers a service would also cost $2,012 + taxes/fees (115,000 miles) and a roundtrip Business Class fare to Asia would start at $2,100 + taxes/fees (120,000 miles) and those are not bad prices at all (especially if you’re considering a trip to Asia).
Then there are the partner awards to consider. Right now there are considerably fewer routes on offer than there would be had a pandemic not just ravaged the planet, but we’re starting to see a few airlines bringing back their services. If you can find Business Class or First Class award availability on the likes of Qatar Airways, JAL, Cathay Pacific, or Etihad (Qatar Airways will probably be your best bet) there could well be a lot of value to be had out of buying miles in this sale.
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.
Good examples are:
- Platinum Card From American Express – 5 points/dollar
- Business Platinum Card From American Express – 5 points/dollar
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card – 3 points/dollar
If you’re a fan of Citi’s ThankYou Points the Citi Prestige Card (5 points/dollar) and the Citi Preferred (3 points/dollar) are worth considering too.
No one should be buying miles speculatively in this sale…but then that goes for any mileage sale and isn’t just because of the situation we’re facing.
For some people, buying miles in this sale won’t make too much sense but for anyone who can find high-end Business Class or First Class awards that work for them, this sale may offer excellent value. In order not to be caught out, just make sure you stick to these simple rules:
- Check awards are available to book
- Work out how much the miles would cost to buy
- Find the cash fare for the same route and the same dates
- Compare the two
That should give you an indication of how good or bad the deal is.
If the math works in your favor you should buy as many miles as you need but, if it doesn’t, don’t try to persuade yourself that the deal is a good one anyway (math doesn’t lie) – keep your credit card firmly in your pocket and move on.