You Should NOT Be Buying AAdvantage Miles In The Current Sale

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American Airlines has unleashed its latest miles promotion in which it is offering discounts of up to 35% when you buy AAdvantage miles. A 35% discount may sound reasonable and may even sound tempting but I’m here to tell you that you should definitely NOT be buying miles in this promotion.

What Is The Latest Promotion?

The more miles you buy the bigger the discount that American Airlines is offering:

a screenshot of a number of miles purchased

Terms & Conditions (In Brief)

  • To be eligible for a discount AAdvantage members must purchase at least 4,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction
  • Promotion runs through 11:59:59pm CT on May 31, 2018.
  • The prices shown include the applicable discount.
  • The discount applies to the AAdvantage miles purchased and does not apply towards taxes or the $30 transaction processing fee.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Full T&Cs are available on the promotion page.

a group of airplanes parked at an airport

What’s Wrong With This Promotion?

As always with miles/points sales you need to do the math before you can jump to any conclusions.

In this promotion you need to buy between 101,000 and 150,000 miles to get the biggest discount and, within this range, the cost/mile remains almost constant.

Here’s the proof.

If you were to buy 101,000 miles it would set you back $2,111.95….

a close-up of a document

…and that’s equivalent to ~2.10 cents/mile.

If you want to buy the full allowance of 150,000 miles that will set you back $3,122.02….

a close-up of a tax

….which is equivalent to ~2.10 cents/mile.

The first thing that’s wrong with this promotion is the cost.

In December American was selling miles for ~1.77 cents each, in February the airline was selling miles from ~2.02 cents each, in March you cold buy AAdvantage miles from ~2.00 cents each and we’ve seen AAdvantage miles on offer from as little as 1.71 cents each… why would you buy at 2.10 cents?

That’s not the only thing that’s wrong with this promotion…there’s another limitation you need to be aware of.

American Airline limits AAdvantage members to buying no more than 150,000 miles per year but, unlike United Airlines, American doesn’t count bonus miles towards this total.

Most of American’s mileage sales offer bonus miles (this promotion is an outlier) so, in just about any other American Airlines mileage sale, you can walk away with considerably more than 150,000 miles if you feel the price works for you.

Not only are the miles on sale expensive but, if you were to buy the full 150,000 allocation, you would be maxed out for the year and wouldn’t be able to take part in any more sales in 2018.

There’s a good chance that American will sell AAdvantage miles at 1.80 cents or less at some point this year (if it doesn’t happen soon you can be sure it will happen around Black Friday) and, if history is anything to go by, you’ll be able to pick up at least 270,000 miles at that price.

What would prefer to do – buy 150,000 expensive miles now or 270,000 better priced miles later?

Personally I’m always going to pick the latter.

a row of seats in an airplane

Bottom Line

If you’re a few thousand miles away from having enough miles to book an award you’ve got your eyes on then it’s probably ok to splash out and by some miles in this promotion….just be sure to check that the award is actually available to book before you go buying any miles.

If you’re in any other position I can’t think of a single reason why you should buy miles in this promotion – stay away!


    • Yes, if memory serves me (very slow internet connection right now so it’s hard to check) that brings the cost down to somewhere between 1.4 and 1.5 cents per mile

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