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Right now American Airlines is advertising a new offer in which you can buy AAdvantage Miles with a bonus of up to 35,000 miles thrown in if you buy at least 80,000 miles during the promotion period. Put simply, what all those numbers mean is that you can buy AAdvantage miles at around 2.10 cents each….and that’s a bad deal.
I’ve mentioned before that, where I once wrote posts about AAdvantage miles sales to let people know about some potentially good deals, I’m now writing posts about these promotions as a Public Service Announcement to warn flyers to stay away.
Let’s see what the gurus at American are trying to tempt us with this month….
Per American Airlines:
To be eligible for a the bonus miles and discount AAdvantage members must purchase 20,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction from the Buy or Gift Miles program beginning 7:00:00am CT on October 2, 2017 to 11:59:59pm CT on November 2, 2017.
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.
Note: the maximum purchase amount does not include bonus miles earned through promotions such as this one.
The way the promotion is tiered the cheapest cost/mile is achieved buy buying 80,000 miles and not the full 150,000.
Here’s how that works.
Buying 150,000 miles would net an AAdvantage member 185,000 miles…..
…..at a post tax & fees total cost of $4,311.19:
185,000 miles for $4,311.19 is approximately the same as 2.33 cents/mile
Buying 80,000 miles sees that cost/mile decrease:
110,000 miles at a cost of $2,313.30 comes to ~2.10 cents/mile
Here’s Why This Is Such A Poor Deal
You can forget about using the miles you buy for premium cabin saver awards on American Airlines – they’re so hard to find they may as well not exist nowadays.
That means that you really have to be looking at using any miles you purchase on partner airlines and it was the partner airline award costs that really skyrocketed when American devalued the AAdvantage program in 2016.
Business Class awards to Europe will cost 115,000 miles for roundtrip travel so, if you were to buy AAdvantage miles for an award like that, they would set you back approximately $2,415.
On top of this you would have the taxes and surcharges that partners like British Airways will charge you which will take the cost of the award to over $3,000.
$3,000 is not a good deal for a Business Class award across the Atlantic.
Yes, there may be times when it’s cheaper to book an award than pay for a cash fare but the fact that award availability and the cost of fares are both linked to demand means that it’s not all that likely circumstances like that will appear all that often.
JAL 787-9 Business Class
Business Class awards to Asia will cost between 120,000 and 140,000 for roundtrip travel and that equates to between $2,520 and $2,940 if you were to buy AAdvantage miles in this promotion….and please note that you cannot buy enough miles for a 140k award at the lowest cost per mile (you would need to already have miles in your account).
Those aren’t terrible prices to pay for premium cabins on the likes of JAL or Cathay Pacific but, once again there’s no guarantee you’ll find award availability on dates where cash fares are higher than that cost.
Don’t forget that because you’re booking award travel…..
- You’ll be very limited by dates you can fly
- You won’t be earning any redeemable miles (which have value)
- You won’t be earning any elite qualifying miles
- You won’t be earning any elite qualifying dollars
Quite simply, if you purchase American Airlines miles there is absolutely no guarantee that you’ll find award availability that suits your needs – either in coach or in a premium cabin, on domestic or international routes.
American Airlines has sold miles for under 1.8 cents this year on a number of different occasions…so why would you now pay the airline 2.10 cents for the same miles?
Buying miles to book SAAver awards for flights on American Airlines is a bad idea because you’ll find that availability is nearly impossible to find.
Buying miles to book Anytime Awards on American Airlines is highly uneconomical as you can buy cash fares for less than the miles will cost you (with very few exceptions)
Buying miles to book premium cabin travel on partner airlines is, at best, a 50:50 proposition – availability isn’t nearly as good as it once was and the number of miles needed (and therefore the cost) has increased significantly. You can often find Business Class fares to Asia and Europe for less than the miles & taxes for the awards would cost you.
Yes, if you get lucky you may be able to find an award that works for you and that will save you money if you buy miles in this promotion…..but for the overwhelming majority of those reading this blog that simply isn’t going happen.
If you need AAdvantage Miles but aren’t desperate for them then hold out for the next promotion…they normally get better towards the year end.