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Back on 9 January I wrote about American Airlines’ first points sale of 2018 and I concluded that, at 2.1 cents/mile, I was finding it hard to recommend a purchase. I also said that the way American Airlines is going “there’s every chance there will be another [promotion] along soon after this one ends” and “if history keeps repeating itself the next promotion should offer miles at around 2.02 cents each”.
Well….guess what? Almost the moment the last American Airlines points sale ended a new one was launched and…you guessed it….the points are on sale for ~2.02 cents each 🙂
Headline Terms & Conditions
- To be eligible for a bonus AAdvantage members must purchase at least 20,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction from the Buy or Gift Miles program by 11:59:59 pm CT February 16, 2018
- To be eligible for a 10% discount on the mileage cost, purchases must be made by midnight CT on February 8th
- The applicable bonus miles are awarded to the recipient for Gift Miles transactions.
- The bonus miles earned are calculated based on each individual purchase amount and the corresponding bonus award.
- Bonus miles earned do not count toward the annual limits.
- The discount applies to the AAdvantage miles purchased and does not apply towards taxes or the $30 transaction processing fee.
- Transactions are nonrefundable and nonreversible.
- Each AAdvantage member is limited to purchasing or receiving in a calendar year, a combined total of no more than 150,000 AAdvantage miles.
- Miles purchased through the Buy Miles program or received as a gift through the Gift Miles program count against this total.
- AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old are not permitted to Buy or Gift Miles.
The full terms and conditions can be found on the offer page.
Buying AAdvantage Miles – The Structure & The Cost
As usual American Airlines has tiered its promotion and this time it has added in an extra layer of complexity by offering a 10% discount too.
Because of the way in which American’s tiers work the best cost per mile is to be found at the bottom end of the top-tier.
Here’s how that works:
An AAdvantage member buying the maximum number of miles permissible would end up with 192,500 miles at a total cost of $4,311.19:
That works out to be ~2.24 cents/mile.
If, however, that same member was to purchase just 100,000 miles (the lowest amount in the top tier), he/she would end up with 142,500 miles at a total cost of $2,884.13.
That works out to be ~2.02 cents/mile (~10% cheaper).
Considering you could have bought AAdvantage Miles at 1.77 cents each as recently as 4 January, 2.02 cents/mile doesn’t exactly look like a great deal….and that’s because it’s not.
Should You Buy AAdvantage Miles?
2.02 cents/mile is a lot to pay for a currency that’s increasingly hard to use (at least for flights to/from the US) and which is showing little sign of getting any easier to use.
I value AAdvantage Miles at around 1.2 cents each so, naturally, I’m not about to say that you should rush to buy miles in this promotion.
I’m also not going to do what this US blog did and suggest that this promotion is ok because you can use it to book Qatar Airways QSuites for $859 one way.
I’ve already discussed why this sort of tweet annoys me so I won’t go into great detail here….but I will say this:
- QSuites award availability is still pretty hard to find as the product is only available on a limited number of routes (see here for a list of routes offering the QSuites)
- The award being suggested cant be booked too or from the US.
I will concede that there could be times where buying miles in this promotion will save you some cash but this is definitely not a promotion for speculative purchases.
Here’s my usual checklist showing what you should do before you decide to buy any miles:
- Check that there’s a saver award bookable right now that works for you – if you can’t find an award you can book straight away then ignore the next steps.
- Use the American Airlines award charts to work out how many miles you need to book the award
- Work out the cost to buy the miles you need
- Find out the total cost of the award you want to book. i.e. make sure you include all the taxes and fees you’ll have to pay on top of the miles you’ll need to book the award.
- Find out the cash price for the flights you want to book with miles
- Compare the total cost of the award with the cash price for the same flights and you’ll have a very good idea if buying miles will save you money.
Don’t forget that a cash fare will earn you redeemable miles and miles towards elite qualification while and award fare won’t so, if you value those at all, you should make sure you factor that in.
This is already the second miles sale that American Airlines has launched this year and we’re barely into February so don’t rush into any purchases.
If this miles sale isn’t for you (and it won’t be for most people) there will be another along soon after this one ends and that may be more to your liking.
If you check for award availability and do the math you can’t go far wrong….just don’t buy any miles speculatively.