American Airlines is offering up to 15,000 bonus miles and 35% off on the purchase of miles through June 1, 2016. You can now buy 165,000 American Airlines miles including bonus for $3,122 or 1.89 cents each.
American Airlines miles cost 2.95 cents each plus a 7.5% excise tax, and every purchase has a $30 processing fee. The cheapest per-mile price comes from purchasing 150,000 American Airlines miles + 15,000 bonus miles for $3,122.
That works out to getting 165,000 miles for 1.89 cents each. The most recent sale was for 1.81 cents each if you put in $4,700.
If you buy 135,000 + 5,000 bonus miles, you pay 2.01 cents each. If you buy 15,000 miles, you pay 2.26 cents each.
The cheapest miles cost 1.89 cents each during this promotion, and that requires shelling out $3,100+. I value American Airlines miles around 1.5 cents each, so there is no way I would buy these miles speculatively for 1.89 cents. The only way it could possibly make sense to buy miles at these prices is if you had an immediate high value use for them and there isn’t a better deal on your dream trip by buying Avianca or Alaska miles right now.
To figure out if you have a high value use, use this simple expression:
(A – B) / (C + D)
- A: Value of the award. Important: this is the lesser of the cash price and your subjective value.
- B: Taxes on the award
- C: Miles used on the award
- D: Miles you would earn if you purchased the award ticket with cash
This will spit out the dollar value you are getting for your miles. If that number is greater than 0.0189, put your dream award on a free five day hold with American Airlines, then look at whether you can get a better deal on the same or a similar award by buying Alaska or LifeMiles.
Avianca LifeMiles is offering a bonus of up to 125% on purchased miles through May 31, 2016. You have to log in to your account at this link to get the offer. You can buy up to 150,000 LifeMiles during the sale and get up to 187,500 bonus miles for 1.47 cents each that you can use on Star Alliance partners.
Until June 13, 2016, you can buy Alaska Airlines miles for as little as 1.97 cents each. You have to log in to your account at this link to see your offer. People are being offered bonuses of 35% to 50% on purchased miles. At a 50% bonus, you’d pay 1.97 cents per mile, but Alaska shares some partners with American Airlines and often has a far cheaper award chart.
If the AA sale offers an immediate high-value use that is better than the Avianca and Alaska sales, then buy miles during this promotion, and book the held award. Otherwise, don’t buy.
Buy AAdvantage Miles with These Credit Cards
AAdvantage miles purchases are processed directly by American Airlines. That’s great news!
It means you can buy them with your Citi Prestige® Card, and its $250 Air Travel Credit will refund you the first $250 of the purchase price of the miles (plus you’ll earn 4x ThankYou Points on the first $250 of the miles purchase.)
It means you can purchase American Airlines miles with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, then use your Arrival miles for an offsetting statement credit.
You can buy 165,000 American Airlines for $3,122 or 1.89 cents each. That’s too high to buy speculatively. Hopefully cheaper sales come along.
The American Airlines miles sales are processed by American Airlines itself, so you can get category bonuses on cards that bonus airline or travel purchases like my latest card, the Citi Prestige® Card which offers 3x on purchases from airlines, or you can use your Arrival Plus to get American Airlines miles for zero cash.