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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
- 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:
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
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
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.
- 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
- 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:
Unlike AA, you can't purchase the entire maximum at once, but you can purchase in multiples.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
- 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)
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