American Airlines Travelers Can Now Redeem AAdvantage Miles for COVID-19 Testing

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Starting today, American Airlines travelers can redeem AAdvantage miles for an at-home COVID-19 PCR testing kit. The LetsGetChecked testing kit costs 12,000 AAdvantage miles, and the test covers travel to any U.S. destination with a testing requirement and 9 countries.

Redeeming 12,000 AAdvantage miles for an at-home COVID-19 test may sound tempting. However, for those that can afford to pay for the test now, you should be able to get much more value out of these AAdvantage miles.

Key Terms for Redeeming AAdvantage Miles for a COVID-19 Test

  • Limited to U.S. residents
  • Must be requested 10 days before departure
  • Kits must be used in the U.S. before traveling to a destination with a testing requirement
  • Call AAdvantage customer service at 800-882-8880 to order a kit using miles
  • Must provide an American Airlines reservation to redeem miles for a kit
  • 48-hour turnaround time on average for test results

As you must complete the test within the U.S., AAdvantage members are limited to one test kit for international itineraries. But, if you're traveling between two locations that require testing, you can order two kits for a domestic trip.

Should You Redeem AAdvantage Miles for a COVID-19 Test?

In short, probably not. However, it depends on how much you value your AAdvantage miles. You can currently purchase a pre-travel COVID-19 test through American Airlines' LetsGetChecked program for $119. So, you're getting just under 1¢ per AAdvantage mile by redeeming miles for your COVID-19 test.

I personally value AAdvantage miles at much higher than 1¢ per mile. So, I'd pass on redeeming miles and just purchase the test with cash. But, if you're tight on cash now, it could be worth it to you to redeem AAdvantage miles at a test. However, if you can afford to wait, there are many better uses for your AAdvantage miles.

Related: Sweet Spots with American Airlines AAdvantage Awards

Other COVID-19 Test Mileage Redemption Options

Only one other U.S. airline currently gives its loyalty program members an option to redeem miles for a COVID-19 test: Hawaiian Airlines. Since November 2020, HawaiianMiles members have been able to redeem 14,000 miles to order a mail-in test kit.

That's actually an even worse value than what American Airlines is offering. Hawaiian Airlines partners with Hawaii-approved Vault Health for this testing program. And you can buy these same kits directly from Vault Heath for $119. So, you'd only get 0.85¢ per mile by redeeming HawaiianMiles for this test kit instead. But, as with the American Airlines option, it's an option if you don't have a better use of your HawaiianMiles.

Is 1¢ the Target Value for AAdvantage Miles?

Bigger picture, it's interesting to note that American Airlines set the mileage price of this test right at 1¢ per mile. After all, this is a new redemption offering and American Airlines could have set the implied value of its miles at any rate it wanted.

For years, Delta has used devaluation after devaluation to drive the value of SkyMiles down as close to 1¢ per SkyMiles as possible. While American Airlines switched to a dynamic-priced award structure for its own flights, American Airlines hasn't made the same value-cutting changes to its travel redemptions. You can still expect to get at least 1.5¢ from many AAdvantage redemptions — and potentially much more on partner premium cabin awards.

However, in recently-added redemption options, American Airlines has pegged AAdvantage miles to 1¢. That's the case when redeeming AAdvantage miles for seat reservations and now for COVID-19 tests. Hopefully, this 1¢ per mile valuation remains limited to add-on items and doesn't signal that American Airlines plans to follow Delta in devaluing its miles to 1¢ per mile.

Final Thoughts

There are extra costs to stay safe while traveling during the pandemic. So, it's nice to have the option to eliminate the cost of getting tested by using miles. However, if you're able to play the long game, you're going to get better value out of your AAdvantage miles for future redemptions by redeeming miles for travel rather than at under 1¢ per mile for a COVID-19 test.

Would you consider redeeming AAdvantage miles for a COVID-19 test?

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Comments

  • Alessandra says:

    If I have booked a flight for me and my husband in the same ticket, am I eligible for two kits?

    • You should be! I think AA is just trying to keep travelers from liquidating a bunch of miles for testing kits (for reselling or similar)

  • I’d suggest that this actually values AA miles at zero since anyone can get tested for free, by US law. The counter point to that is this a an at-home test, which will have some value to it for some because of the convenience.

  • Fenspinbi says:

    Good point that one may be able to read between the lines to see that AA may be using this as a test case for a future devaluation. I would never consider redeeming miles for this, as COVID testing is free in much of Florida (for good reason), and I’d rather just pay cash at that asking price if I was really pressed for time/convenience.

  • good date! But I think I would never redeem miles for this. covid tests get free in several places. What I do find interesting is that it is a kit to make quiet from home. for children it can be comfortable!

  • estoy juntando millas aadvantage para realizar algun viaje corto sin costo. No me parece que gastaria mis millas en una prueba para covid.

  • Eric aboutboul says:

    Yes! COVID tests are such a cash drain and covering them using

  • Carl Amoth says:

    Nice to have this option. Thanks

  • Ultimately, it’s just an option that is made available in case you don’t want to (or can’t) pay with your own money. Nice that it’s available for those who need it.

  • There are many ways to obtain a free PCR, health insurance plans and so on. Redeeming miles is the last choice for the worst circumstances that anyone can go through.

  • I would certainly try to get a test using health insurance or flex account before using AA miles at this cost. It’s creative to offer this option but price point seems way off.

  • For those in Mexico needing to return to the US, most of the big airports in Mexico (MEX, GDL, MTY, CUN, etc.) offer rapid covid antigen tests for 5000 MXN (approx. 25 USD). I recommend doing the test as soon as you arrive if you only have a short break, or arrive early if your vacation is longer. If you are from Southern California, you also have the option of flying back to Tijuana (TIJ) and using CBX to avoid the test. Lot of options!

  • I think AA is trying to get people to use their built up miles. It’s smart to offer different things as options because people will make redemptions for other things if they feel they won’t use their miles for a flight. I like having options and I am a mile hoarder, but use them for flights only.

  • Only for US residents? Why?

  • I always use miles just to travel. But suddenly for test covid it’s not a bad idea in this new normal

  • AA should offer these tests for free. Would comfort all on board.

  • Is rhat only in US? It sounds silly. Airlines should test passengers for free…

  • I will not be buying the American Airlines COVID-19 PCR test for 12,000 miles. Hopefully there will not be another devaluation in the near future. The only spend I put on my citibusiness credit card is AA tickets. All my other spend goes on my CSR.

  • 12k?? Extremely expensive

  • Seems like a really strange item to redeem points for?And I thought redeeming for magazines was silly.

  • Health insurance plans should always be paying for these tests. American is trying to fool people here.

    • As I understand it, health insurance plans have to pay for testing if there’s a medical need for it (i.e. if you think you’re sick or exposed). It seems insurance companies don’t have to pay for a test if they know it’s for travel purposes. But happy to hear if you’re seeing something different.

  • I don’t value AAdvantage miles very highly and almost never use them for flights (except for other people) as I prefer have all my flights count towards status. So this is actually something I might use! Right now, I don’t have need of a COVID test, but if I do, it’s nice to know that this is an option.

  • angelo fonseca says:

    Conversely, conversion is not advantageous. What do they have in mind?

  • I guess this is now the new normal where you redeem miles for covid tests.

  • 1 cent per mile isn’t great from the member perspective.

    But considering AA will be paying cold hard cash to the testing company, it certainly isn’t horrible either.

  • I’ve seen it all now! Poor value redemption also when compare against the cost of these kits

  • I see this offer as a sneaky devaluation tactic.

  • Wow, what a poor value…..for 12K miles, I normally expect to fly transcon, not buy a Covid test. Unless you have millions of miles you just don’t know what to do with, this should be a hard pass.

  • It is just another disguised miles for shopping offer. I will not take up on the offer.

  • It is just another trick for AA to sell more miles in light of the depressed travel demand. Do NOT do it.

  • Creative way to use airline miles but this is still a bad deal.

  • There are definitely worse redemptions than 1cpp. It’s not great, or even good, but it’s not terrible.

  • Redeem AAdvantage miles for PCR testing is not a good option for me. The miles are for travel, always.

  • $120 for a COVID test is a bit much but good use of points I guess?

  • I know this isn’t the case everywhere or in every circumstance, but free tests are available in many, many places, so please check the various alternatives before using this service. In any case, please do not put off getting tested.

    • Kevin, you beat me to the punch. Well said. I’ll add this: if American Airlines were one’s AMEX preferred airline, would buying the COVID-19 test with an AMEX card be reimbursed as an incidental fee?