Buy AA Miles for 1.79¢ Each, Earn 500 Bonus Miles on Every Flight

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Update: “When you're Ready to Fly” Promo has ended. Flights must have been booked by May 18th for travel between July and the end of the year.

American Airlines offers a promotion for purchasing miles almost every month, and this month is no different. The latest sale includes the ability to buy AA miles for as little as 1.79¢ each through May 31, 2020. But there's a twist—unlike most mileage sales, you won't find the best value when buying the maximum.

A Note on Buying Miles

At AwardWallet, we never recommend buying miles speculatively. Award programs can devalue at with little notice, so you are almost always better off holding cash.

With that said, there are a couple of cases where buying miles can make sense. For instance, if you only need a few more miles to complete a specific redemption, buying miles might be the fastest and most cost-effective route. Additionally, if you're going to consider paying cash for a premium ticket, you may want to consider buying miles instead, since the cost for the required mileage could be considerably cheaper than paying for the product outright.

Offer Details

  • Promo valid through May 31, 2020
  • Receive 100,000 bonus miles when purchasing 150,000 miles
  • You can only buy or gift a combined total of 150,000 miles per year before bonuses
  • AA accounts must be older than 30 days to purchase miles
  • Purchased miles are non-refundable and non-reversible
  • Miles purchased, transferred, or received as a gift do not count towards elite-status qualification or AAdvantage Million Miler status

It's also worth noting that for this sale, AA has committed to donating one mile to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for every mile purchased up to ten million miles total.

This promotion operates on a tiered system, with a different bonus offered depending on how many points you plan to purchase.

Where to Find the Best Value

When loyalty programs announce a sale for purchasing miles, they typically offer a better bonus for buying the maximum amount. This incentivizes customers to make a larger purchase in pursuit of the best bang for their buck.

Interestingly, AA has opted to go with a more opaque pricing scheme for this promotion. While you can easily reverse the math of each tier's offer to figure out how many miles you'll receive, you're required to use a price ‘calculator' to see the actual price.

To save you some time, we'll go ahead and cut to the chase: you'll find the best per-mile price when buying 70,000 miles. It falls at the start of the tier offering 50,000 bonus miles and 5% off the price, which translates into buying 120,000 AA miles for $2,144.62, or 1.79¢ per mile.

Does Buying Miles Make Sense?

We've posted about some of the best sweet spots in the AAdvantage program and the recent surge in AA “Web Special” offerings. Let's pick a few of these redemptions and compare the typical cash price with the cost to purchase the necessary miles under the terms of this promotion.

Los Angeles — Johannesburg in Qatar QSuite

  • Mileage Rate: 75,000 miles
  • Typical Cash Price: $5,920
  • Redemption Rate: 7.9 cents per mile
  • Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles: $1,542

Dallas — Sydney in Qantas First Class

  • Mileage Rate: 110,000 miles
  • Typical Cash Price: $11,700
  • Redemption Rate: 10.6 cents per mile
  • Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles (at 1.79¢ per mile): $1,969*

*Depending on availability, you could also buy the Alaska miles required for the same redemption for only $1,210 if targeted for Alaska's current buy miles promotion.

Abu Dhabi — Seoul in Etihad First Class

  • Mileage Rate: 50,000 miles
  • Typical Cash Price: $5,722
  • Redemption Rate: 11.4 cents per mile
  • Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles: $1,090

Jacksonville — Tokyo in AA First Class (a recent AA Web Special)

  • Mileage Rate: 55,000 miles*
  • Typical Cash Price: $6,800
  • Redemption Rate: 12.4 cents per mile
  • Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles: $1,241

*Like all Web Specials, this price isn't published on AA's award chart and is subject to availability.

Maximizing you Purchase

Unlike most airlines, AA processes point purchases directly. This is great news because it means that point purchases will code as airfare, and are eligible for the travel category bonus on many credit cards. Some of the best cards to use would be:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Our #1 recommended beginners rewards card featuring a 60,000 point signup bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Other Ways to Earn AA Miles

If you're not in a hurry, another way to beef up your AAdvantage stash is through a sign-up bonus on a co-branded credit card. Several of these co-branded products—such as the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® and the AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®—are offering particularly lucrative sign-up bonuses at the moment. Some of the other options include:

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
Annual Fee$99, waived for first 12 months
Welcome Offer Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.
The AA Business Card is a great card to hold for any business owner that travels at least a few times per year with American Airlines. Get a free checked bag on domestic itineraries, priority boarding and a 25% discount on in-flight purchases. Even better, this card gives you access to Reduced Mileage Awards, which can save you up to 30% on the miles required for domestic awards. With these perks, it's easy to justify the annual fee of $99, waived for first 12 months.
  • Free checked bags for you and up to 4 companions on domestic itineraries
  • Priority boarding to help you win the race for overhead bin space
  • A 25% discount on inflight food, beverage, and Wi-Fi purchases
  • Reduced Mileage Awards can save you 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver Awards
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on cable and satellite providers
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at gas stations
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on select telecommunications merchants
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on car rentals
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1X mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases

‘When You're Ready to Fly' Promo

In addition to the monthly mileage sale, AA has launched a 7-day promo offering up to 5,000 bonus miles for booking and flying American in 2020. Initially announced via email, targeted members will find this promo under the ‘Promotions' tab in their AAdvantage account. The general terms include:

  • Register for this promotion by May 18, 2020
  • Book by May 18, 2020, for future travel between July 1, 2020December 31, 2020*
  • Earn 500 bonus miles after completing each eligible flight, with a maximum reward of 5,000 total bonus miles

*Flights booked through May 18, 2020, for future travel can be changed at a later date without change fees.

Final Thoughts

While I wouldn't go out of my way to make any AA reservations just for the 500 bonus miles, it's still a good idea to go ahead and register for the promo. There's nothing to lose, even if you don't end up booking anything by the deadline.

As for the mileage sale, 1.79¢ a piece isn't the best rate we've ever seen AA offer—which is a little surprising. Airlines are struggling financially, and selling miles to loyalty members is an excellent way to generate revenue in the short term. We've already seen Alaska and United introduce sales offering best-ever pricing. I would have expected AA to follow suit. With that said, this could present a great opportunity for anyone with a specific redemption already in mind.

Are you buying AA miles at 1.79¢ a piece?

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  • Maria Elisa says:

    Tenia tarjeta VISA del Citi asociada al programa AAdvantage, pero lamentablemente el Citi dejo su operatoria en Argentina.

  • @ $1.79 per mile, 1000 miles = $1790.00
    10,000. miles @1.79 = $17,900.00
    Thinking there is a mistake somewhere here?

  • Ariel Cabeza says:

    Well, This is one of the lowest prices I’ve ever seen!. I’m considering applying for some miles. Hopefully I’ll be able to use them next summer.

  • Is the 500 mile flight bonus per “flight segment” or “one way flight”? Can’t seem to find the definition anywhere. So, when I fly from NYC to LAX with a change (and new flight number) in DFW, is that one flight or two?

    • I would imagine it’s a full trip, ie origin to destination. Is that a “segment” by definition where it can either be nonstop or with a layover? And a “flight” is every takeoff and landing?

  • If they counted towards Million Miler status it would be enough to tempt me to buy, but unfortunately they don’t. I suppose those with an AA credit card could ‘double dip’ by using the card to pay thereby earning some additional miles (which would count towards Million Miler).

  • AA Is working hard to get their business going again and for us that seems to be a good thing. Thanks for this information!

  • I appreciate your doing the math and finding the best sweet spot. Tempting to use the Platinum card to get over $200 value in Membership Rewards to offset the cost even more. Question though, would using the AA Citi Mastercard, since the purchase goes through AA trigger the double AA miles on an AA purchase?

    • JT Genter says:

      It *should* and past AA purchases with AA credit cards have triggered the 2X earning rate. And thankfully AA says as much in the T&C

      If I purchase miles using my Citi® / AAdvantage® credit card, will I also earn miles for the transaction?
      Yes. If you are a U.S. resident and you use your eligible Citi® / AAdvantage® credit card to buy AAdvantage miles, you will earn miles 2 AAdvantagemiles per $1 spent. For example, if you buy 25,000 AAdvantage miles, you’ll earn on the cost of the miles ($737.50 x 2 miles = 1,475 miles), the applicable tax ($55.31 x 2 miles = 111 miles) and on any applicable processing charge ($30.00 x 2miles = 60 miles), for a total of 1,646 miles.

      If I purchase miles using my AAdvantage® Aviator™ MasterCard®, will I also earn miles for the transaction?
      Yes. If you use your AAdvantage® Aviator™ MasterCard® to buy miles, you will earn the same amount of miles as you do on eligible American Airlines purchases. For example, if you earn 2 miles on airline purchases and buy 25,000 AAdvantage miles, you’ll earn on the cost of the miles ($737.50 x 2 miles = 1,475 miles), the applicable tax ($55.31 x 2 miles = 111 miles) and on any applicable processing charge ($30.00 x 2 miles = 60 miles), for a total of 1,646 miles.

  • Harvey Kwan says:

    Are travel restrictions being lifted soon?

  • Can selling miles really help airlines overcome their ongoing financial crisis at all?

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    Deals are coming in! That’s the only good thing with this Wuhan virus situation. I actually had to buy some points this last year, so a sale is good. I never seem to have enough points.

  • Would be nice if they counted towards Million Miler status!

  • jianguo dong says:

    The price is not bad when people just are short of just a few thousands towards a ticket redemption.

  • Nice Promo. Do you have to buy miles to qualify for the 500 point promotion on a flight??

  • I’m surprised by the Jacksonville-Tokyo web special. Japan is currently not allowing passengers from the US to land unless they have citizenship or permanent residency. There is no immediate plan to change this, so I’d be wary of such a redemption even if it can technically be changed or refunded.

  • Buying miles seems to defeat the purpose of this hobby, unless you need a topper for a specific travel plan.

  • I need some more miles for my future travel. As I was debating if I should buy miles, I saw that AA has committed to donating one mile to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for every mile purchased. That’s a great incentive! Glad I can be of some help to others while I buy miles for myself.

  • Ignacio Vargas says:

    This could be a good oportunity to boost your AAdvantage account for future travel

  • Soy socia de AAdvantage hace años y me alegra saber que están trabajando para que todo vuelva a funcionar y así nosotros podremos seguir disfrutando de los beneficios!!

  • I see the promo is valid till the end of May.
    I think we should know something more about some partial drop of restriction measures for Covid-19 at the beginning of June.
    A little risky to buy some AAdvantage miles and not having an immediate use of them.

  • I’m with Rosario here. Living in northern Europe, this promo doesn’t make much sense to me. It too early to predict the development of the Covid-19 situation in the coming months. That said, I also need a vacation…

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