FLASH SALE: Buy American Airlines Miles From 1.77 Cents Each


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For the third year running (and as I predicted just a few days ago) American Airlines has launched a mileage sale in which AAdvantage Miles can be purchased for as little as 1.77 cents each…and that’s just about as cheap as we ever seen them being sold.

Headline T&Cs

  • To be eligible for a the bonus miles AAdvantage members must purchase at least 10,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction.
  • Sale runs from 12:00:00am CT November 23, 2018 to 11:59:59pm CT November 26, 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.

Here’s a link to the promotion page where you’ll find the full terms and conditions 

The Math

If you’ve seen past Black Friday sales from American Airlines this won’t be anything new for you – here’s how the promotion is set out:

As is now pretty usual with these sales you’ll achieve the best cost/mile by buying the minimum number of miles in each band – e.g. you’ll pay less per mile if you buy 100,000 miles rather than 149,000 miles

To achieve the very best price/mile you’ll need to buy the maximum number of miles you’re allowed to buy (150,000 miles) at a cost of $4,786.88:

This will net you 270,000 AAdvantage miles after the bonus is factored in and brings the cost/mile 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) so this is just about as good as it gets if you’re looking to top up an account.

However….

I have a big issue with AAdvantage Miles and that’s because they’re 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).

Also, even if SAAver awards were available to book they’re not necessarily a fantastic deal any more.

American Airlines Business Class 777-300ER

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 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 and that’s probably where the better deals lie.

Etihad can be a very good option as can Cathay Pacific First Class but one of the best value propositions 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.

Etihad A380 Business Class

In this promotion that 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.

Bottom Line

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.

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