AwardWallet receives compensation from advertising partners for links on the blog. Terms Apply to the offers listed on this page. The opinions expressed here are our own and have not been reviewed, provided, or approved by any bank advertiser. Here's our complete list of Advertisers.
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.
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.
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?
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.