You Can Now Buy AAdvantage Miles From 1.72 Cents Each


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American Airlines is selling miles at a discount again and this time it’s selling them at the lowest rate we normally see. If you follow the AAdvantage miles sales closely you won’t be surprised to know that miles are now on sale at 1.72 cents each because this is exactly the same offer that came around last June.

The Offer

In typical fashion American has managed to make the simple process of selling miles relatively confusing so here’s a table summing up the offer – you get bonus miles and a discount this time around.

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 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 by 11:59:59pm CT on June 30, 2018.
  • The prices shown include the discount.
  • The discount applies to the AAdvantage miles purchased and does not apply towards taxes or the $30 transaction processing fee.
  • The bonus miles earned are calculated based on each individual purchase amount and the corresponding bonus award.
  • The applicable bonus miles are awarded to the recipient for Gift Miles transactions.
  • 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.
  • The miles successfully purchased or transferred usually post to the designated account right away, but please allow up to 8 hours for processing.
  • 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.
  • AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old are not permitted to Buy or Gift Miles.
  • Prices are in U.S. dollars and do not include applicable taxes or $30 per transaction processing charge.

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.

Here’s a table I drew up last June (when the same promotion was running) showing the cost per mile of buying AAdvantage miles at the top and bottom of each band.

So, taking as an example the first band in the offer (11,000 – 20,000 miles), we can see that the cost per mile is cheaper if you buy 11,000 miles than it is if you buy 20,000.

This could be contrary to what you may be expecting as, in most mileage sales, the cost/mile normally decreases the more miles you buy…so be careful.

All this 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

In percentage terms, buying 50,000 miles is 18% more expensive (per mile) than buying 51,000 miles.

In this sale the best price is 1.72 cents/mile which is as cheap as we’ve seen AAdvantage miles offered in a regular promotion. To achieve this price you’ll have to buy the full 150,000 allowance…..

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

250,000 miles for $4,311.19 is approximately equal to 1.72 cents/mile.

Is It Worth It?

For some this may be a good deal and for others it will be a bad one.

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 cabin SAAver Award availability on its own aircraft to levels where most travelers are having trouble finding a single award seat.
  • Reduced the availability of premium cabin upgrades to levels where most travelers are having trouble finding any upgrades at all.
  • 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, it’s poor value.
  • 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.

American 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 lot of AAdvantage miles that you subsequently struggle to use economically.

Reminder:

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:

CardMatch™

Bottom Line

I value AAdvantage miles at under 1.25 cents each (mainly because they’re so hard to use on American Airlines) so I’m not a buyer at 1.72 cents….even if it is the cheapest rate we see.

If you can see an award online and it’s ready to be booked it’s easy to decide if you should buy miles:

  • 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 of a deal you’d be getting.

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