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Airlines are looking for any means by which to raise cash right now and American Airlines is attempting to swell its coffers by offering flyers the opportunity to buy AAdvantage Miles at the lowest rate I think I’ve ever seen.
Now is not the time to be stocking up on miles for which you have no immediate need but for some people, this may well be an offer that leads to some excellent redemptions.
- Buy 2,000 – 9,000 miles and get 50% bonus miles
- Buy 10,000 – 49,000 miles and get 70% bonus miles
- Buy 50,000 – 149,000 miles and get 50% bonus miles
- Buy 150,000 miles and get 100% bonus miles
Headline Terms & Conditions
- AAdvantage members must purchase at least 2,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction from the Buy or Gift Miles program from 12:00:00am CT March 30, 2020 to 11:59:59pm CT April 12, 2020, to be eligible for bonus miles.
- 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.
- 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.
- Buy Miles or Gift Miles transactions are non-refundable, non-transferable and non-exchangeable.
The full terms and conditions can be found on the sale page.
The cheapest cost per point is to be had by buying the maximum number of miles on offer…
…and this would see an AAdvantage member buying miles at approximately 1.6 cents each.
However, a nice positive aspect of this promotion is that you can buy as few as 50,000 miles and still only pay around 1.75 cents per mile….and that’s a very good deal by American Airlines standards.
Should You Buy Miles In This Sale?
Ok, let’s get the obvious out of the way first: We’re all currently grounded and the airline industry appears to be going to hell in a handbasket right now so most people should probably be avoiding this sale completely….but not everyone.
Thanks to the turbulent times we’re living through right now it’s actually a little easier to find American Airlines Business Class saver awards than it usually is (even on routes like Los Angeles – London)…
…but most people shouldn’t be buying AAdvantage Miles for use on American Airlines right now.
If you’re based in Europe you currently have an embarrassment of amazing Business Class fares to choose from (to most corners of the world and for dates into 2021) so buying miles is generally only going to be economical if you’re planning a trip on a route without discounted premium cabin availability.
If you’re based in the US things are a bit different because on this side of the pond we don’t really have the same amazing Business Class deals that the Europeans are seeing…but that’s still not a reason to dive in and buy miles.
The chances are that when things finally start getting back to normal (whatever normal will look like), there will be quite a few good fare sales on offer (and possibly even elite status bonuses) as the airlines scramble to get people interested in flying again – those are likely to offer better value than any bookings made with miles purchased in this sale.
Having said all of that there’s still the small matter of the ultra-premium cabins (e.g First Class on Etihad).
American Airlines partners with a number of airlines that offer very good First Class products, and a lot of these products can be booked for a very reasonable number of miles….for example:
- USA – Tokyo (JAL): 160,000 miles = ~$2,560 + taxes/fees
- USA – Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific): 220,000 miles = ~$3,520 + taxes/fees
- USA – Middle East (Etihad/Qatar): 231,000 miles = ~$3,696 + taxes/fees
- Europe – Middle East (Etihad/Qatar): 125,000 miles = ~$2,000 + taxes/fees
- Europe – Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific): 180,000 miles = ~$2,880 + taxes/fees
- Europe – Australia (Etihad/Qatar): 230,000 miles = ~$3,680 + taxes/fees
Note: the costs above are for roundtrip travel and assume a cost of 1.6 cents/mile.
You don’t even need to book First Class in both directions – it may make sense to book First Class in one direction (the direction which offers you the most amount of time to enjoy the joys of First Class) and Business Class in the other (Business Class on Qatar Airways can be as good or better than First Class on a lot of other airlines).
As an example: Flying Europe – Australia in Etihad First Class on the outbound sectors and Business Class on the return would cost a total of 200,000 points + taxes and fees which equates to $3,200 + taxes and fees. If two people are flying that’s almost $1,000 cheaper then flying First Class in both directions.
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
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card – 3 points/dollar
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – 2 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.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that although award bookings come with redeposit fees if you chose to cancel the booking (these fees are waived if you have Executive Platinum status) they’re still a lot more flexible than cash fares and are therefore may be more appealing at a time such as this.
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 a lot of people, buying miles in this sale won’t make too much sense but for anyone looking to book high-end First Class awards, this sale may offer very good value…just make sure you stick to these simple rules:
- 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 money in your pocket and move on.