Alaska & American Buy Miles Bonuses for February 2020

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Alaska Mileage Plan and American AAdvantage are both offering a limited-time bonus when you buy miles. Both deals are a significant improvement over the normal prices, but should you buy? The answer (and which deal is better) depends on your travel plans. Here’s our breakdown of the two offers.

American AAdvantage Promotion

Key Terms

  • Direct Link – Buy AAdvantage Miles
  • Prices are in U.S. dollars. 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
  • Offers to eligible members may vary and are subject to change by American without notice to you
  • AAdvantage miles purchased do not count toward elite-status qualification or AAdvantage Million MilerSM status

Keep in mind that there is no published end date, so it could change without a moment's notice. If you're looking to top off your AAdvantage account, there are four bonus tiers depending on how many miles you purchase:

AAdvantage Miles Promo
AAdvantage Miles Promo

While there is no limit to the amount of “bonus” miles you can receive, AA limits purchases of miles to 150,000 annually. With the 80% bonus, that means 270,000 miles is the limit. Let's look at this in terms of what that actually means. The old AAdvantage award chart priced trips at the following rates:

Economy: U.S. to Europe (round trip)

  • 60,000 miles per person
  • $1,464.69 at 2.41 cents per mile

Business: U.S. to Europe (round trip)

  • 115,000 miles per person
  • $2,479.49 at 2.15 cents per mile

First: U.S. to South Africa (round trip)

  • 240,000 miles per person
  • $4,540.80 at 1.88 cents per mile

It's worth noting that to book the first-class trip, you'd have to purchase 142,000 (to get 241,400 after the bonus). You'd only need to buy spend an extra $253.70 to max out the promotion and end up with 270,000 miles.

Comparing Awards to the Cash Price

Of course, most people want to know, “What's the best redemption value?” While that varies based on personal wants and interests, here is one way that you could make an interesting trip out of AAdvantage miles. One place I hear mentioned frequently is Johannesburg, South Africa.

Qatar Business Class Award vs Revenue Ticket

Qatar Business Class for 75K AA miles

Using purchased miles with the 80% bonus would cost roughly $1,351. You might even find yourself in Qatar's Q-Suites.

Etihad First Class Award vs. Revenue Ticket

Etihad First Class

The return could be booked in Etihad's First Class Apartments for 120K miles. Using purchased miles with the 80% bonus, the return would cost roughly $2,202.

If you purchased the absolute minimum number of miles to book this round trip, you'd pay $3,684.57. That's a lot of money, but buying miles is still a huge savings over the cost to purchase these flights as revenue tickets.

Can I Earn Extra Miles?

Unlike many of the other programs who sell through Points.com, American Airlines processes their own transactions when you buy points. This means the expense should be categorized by your bank as an “airline purchase”. The AwardWallet Merchant Lookup tool tracks real transactions to help you know how many points you'll earn with different merchants. Here's the report for American Airlines.

Using an AAdvantage card from Barclays or Citi will earn an additional two miles per dollar spent, but if you don't absolutely need the additional American miles for your trip, you can do better with cards that earn a bonus for airline purchases. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige® Card both earn 5X points per dollar.

The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms Apply)
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Annual Fee$550
Welcome Bonus Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, and on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com

Alaska Mileage Plan Promotion

Key Terms

  • Direct Link – Buy Mileage Plan Miles
  • Transactions must be completed between 6:00 AM PST January 22, 2020 and 11:59 PM PST February 16, 2020 to be eligible for bonus miles.
  • Miles are purchased from Points.com Inc. A 7.5% Federal Excise Tax*, and GST/HST for Canadian residents.
  • Miles are non-refundable and do not count toward MVP and MVP/Gold status.
  • You may purchase and gift Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles in increments of 1,000 miles to a maximum of 60,000 miles per transaction.
  • Your Mileage Plan account may be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles acquired through Points.com in a calendar year, whether purchased by you or gifted to you. MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan member accounts have no annual limit on the number of miles which may be purchased or gifted through Points.com.
  • Offer is subject to change and all terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan Program apply.
  • *Points.com Inc. is collecting Federal Excise Tax on behalf of Alaska Airlines Inc.
  • Alaska Airlines Inc. has the obligation to collect Federal Excise Tax and remit the tax to the appropriate government agency.

If you're looking to top off your Mileage Plan account, there are three tiers at which you can purchase:

Up to 40% more miles with Alaska promotion
Up to 40% more miles with Alaska promotion
Unlike AA, you can't purchase the entire maximum at once, but you can purchase in multiples.

Purchasing Alaska Miles
Purchasing Alaska Miles

There still is a 150,000 maximum purchase, but what that really means is that you'll receive 210,000 miles if you max out the annual limit. You can use the Mileage Plan Award Charts to determine exactly how many miles you'll need.

Award Estimates
Award Estimates

Pricing to Purchase Miles (in Cents Per Mile):

  • 20% bonus (2.52 CPM)
  • 30% bonus (2.32 CPM)
  • 40% bonus (2.15 CPM)

So the question is, “Is there a reason to purchase these miles?” You may wish to purchase miles, because you are short and need topped off. Perhaps you could even use miles to cut down the cost for which you were planning to pay cash. Here is one example where purchasing miles is still substantially less than paying cash. Looking at business class fares to Australia, you may find the costs prohibitive.

Cash fare for Qantas business class
Cash fare for Qantas business class

However, purchasing 110,000 miles at the best promotional rate (2.15CPM), the cost of points for this flight would total $2,365 + $147.65 taxes = $2,512.65. That's a $2,800+ savings per ticket.

Business class on Qantas

Business class on Qantas

Can I Earn Extra Miles?

Unlike American's AAdvantage program, you are not buying miles direct from Alaska Airlines. Therefore, no cards will provide bonus multiples when purchasing miles through their broker Points.com. Your best option is to use a card that earns more than 1X on everyday purchases. Our top pick is The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. However, with the extraordinary international partnerships through Mileage Plan, you shouldn't have much difficulty extracting more value from the miles than you've spent.

Our Takeaway

We don't recommend purchasing miles for the future on a whim because points and miles tend to lose value over time. You never know when the next rule change or devaluation will be announced. Unless you have a specific use in mind, you're better off earning points through traditional credit card bonuses and everyday spending. Are there any situations where you've found value in purchased mile promotions?

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms Apply)
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Annual FeeNo annual fee
Featured Offer 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from date of account opening, then a variable rate, 14.74%-20.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
The best credit card available for non-bonus business expenses. You'll receive 2X Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent up to the first $50,000 per year. Points transfer to travel partners without the need to hold other cards. The introductory APR offer also makes the card a great option if you're looking for a low-cost method of financing capital purchases you intend to pay down in less than 12 months.
  • Get rewarded for business as usual. Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners.
  • 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
  • You've got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
  • More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That's everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from date of account opening, then a variable rate, 14.74%-20.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • No Annual Fee
  • Terms Apply
  • Rates & Fees
  • Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees)

AwardWallet Tip of The Day
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Comments

  • Alaska Mileage Plan is growing more and more useful for me. After they bought Virgin they cover most of my regular flights. have convenient (at least for me) partners and there are really nice promotions.

  • The Alaska bonus seems pretty poor. Surely they have other promos that do better than 40%?

  • ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    Not a screaming deal u unless you have a good, immediate use for the miles. Remember to include the miles lost when you pay by miles instead of $. Some of the trips mentioned would earn over 15k AA miles when you pay $, which you don’t earn when paying with miles. Plus using miles doesn’t earn you any progress towards status, but paying cash does.

  • Agustin Gutierrez says:

    Great information about the pricing breakdown when buying miles. Super useful to decide whether or not to buy the miles to get a flight award. It would be great also to add some examples of flights from the USA to South America.

  • Will there be any promotion for South America or the Caribbean?

  • I believe that buying AA miles is a waste of money. I have had no success the last the last three years finding business saver awards to Australia.
    Last year during the Christmas holidays I was looking for nonstops between ORD/JAX roundtrip. Price approximately $750 or 74,500 miles.

    • I’m looking too at Christmas availability but maybe it’s a little early and some seats are not open. I don’t think everything has been booked.

  • Also might want to consider Alaska if you want to take advantage of the award sale on Fiji Airways that ends the last day of this month. Only 40,000 in business, which is lie-flat if you can get the LAX route operated by a A350.

    I for one am excited to be trying Qantas business for the first time this week.

  • Alaska has been pretty good with redemptions levels over the years. I wonder if it’s not too bad to top off that account since it doesn’t devalue at the rate of other airlines. Maybe only if you have a trip sooner rather than later years.

    AA not unless I have a trip in mind that I’m making a redemption for immediately. They devalue too often to buy miles to just raise the amount in your account. I agree.

    I wonder who has better chance to get Qantas space on miles?

  • If only Qantas released more first class award seats for Australia-USA, I’d purchase Alaska miles in a heart beat. 🙁

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    I generally avoid purchasing promotional points. I have found that utilizing the tried and true methods of accruing points is a better method.

  • 3 round trip business class tickets between Asia and Australia or New Zealand for 240000 miles are a good deal because it is quite unlikely that you will pay less than USD 2000 per round trip ticket.

  • I often wonder why the Aussie leisure travelers still stick with the Qantas program for mileage accumulation.

  • I’m tempted to buy to as it turns out I can only book JAL flights through AA with miles and it’s cheaper than the cash rate through JAL.

  • The tip of the day at the end was very helpful. I didn’t realize you could do that with, for example, OneWorld Alliance.

  • Right now if you want to go to Asia it’s cheaper and less aggravating just to purchase biz tix instead of messing with the points

  • I dont buy miles. Not only does it limit your options, the airlines can devalue the miles at anytime. So I would only do this is you already have something in mind or to top up an account.

  • Interesting take on buying miles instead of paying cash….but if you’re going to drop this kind of change, I wonder if you’re even the type that would care about the extra hoops to jump through…..

  • This is a good offer if you need more miles for flight award redemption.

  • Looks like an expensive way to get miles. Bask and Citi might be better options!

  • JORGE MENDONCA says:

    Even with the offer AA miles continues expensive.

  • Does Alaska charge fuel surcharges on British flights?

  • Matthew Taylor says:

    Thanks for the information. I agree that award availability between Australia and the USA is almost non-existent. That plus the value of points continually being de-valued by the airlines makes you think twice before buying points now.

  • At least it’s a bonus if you were planning to do this anyway.

  • Well, seen better deals than this.

  • Only buy if you can leverage the miles.

  • The most important is what you said . Do not buy miles if you do not need to use them now because miles lose value and devaluations happens about every couple of years

  • Interesting that both are having sales and now they announce a new partnership and AS joining OW.

  • The purchase of AA miles, even with bonuses, is only worthy if you need miles to reach the amount needed for the planned trip soon.

  • You can also donate AA miles to charity.

  • AS joining Oneworld is a shame I think

  • Muy interesante esta posibilidad que brinda AA para utilizar nuestras millas

  • Alaska have just got a little more interesting now that they plan to join Oneworld.

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