You Can Now Buy AAdvantage Miles For 1.77 Cents Each….Again


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Someone really needs to sit the AAdvantage team down and explain the concept of a “sale” to them because I’m not convinced they understand what a sale actually is – perhaps someone in the Dallas Fort Worth area could drop off a dictionary to help them out.

Here’s how ridiculous this is all getting.

On 24 November American Airlines launched its Black Friday promotion and told us that we only had through Cyber Monday (27 November) to buy AAdvantage Miles at a great rate. Yesterday, American Airlines came out with its new miles promotion which……surprise, surprise,…..is offering AAdvantage Miles at exactly the same rate as in the Black Friday sale – 1.77 Cents each.

What makes all of this even worse is that this still isn’t the best rate at which American has sold miles this year – that was 1.72 cents/mile back in July.

At some point American is going to have to stop calling these things promotion and sales and just admit that it values its miles at somewhere between 1.7 and 1.8 cents each…..which is the rate at which you can buy them for large parts of the year.

Anyway…..here’s the latest offering from the AAdvantage team:

The Headline T&Cs

  • AAdvantage members must purchase at least 10,000 AAdvantage miles or more in a single transaction to earn a bonus.
  • The promotion runs to 11:59:59pm CT January 4, 2018
  • If you’re gifting miles the applicable bonus miles are awarded to the recipient of the miles.
  • Each AAdvantage member is limited to purchasing or receiving in a calendar year, a combined total of no more than 150,000 AAdvantage miles.
  • Bonus miles earned do not count toward the annual purchase limits.
  • 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

Here’s a link to the promotion page where you’ll find the full terms and conditions

The Math

Here’s how the latest promotion is structured:

  • Buy 1,000 – 9,000 miles and get 0 miles bonus
  • Buy 10,000 – 24,000 miles and get 3,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 25,000 – 49,000 miles and get 9,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 50,000 – 74,000 miles and get 27,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 75,000 – 99,000 miles and get 48,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 100,000 – 149,000 miles and get 72,000 bonus miles
  • Buy 150,000 and get 120,000 bonus miles

This is exactly the same structure as the Black Friday promotion we saw a little over a week ago.

Just as in the Black Friday promotion you’ll get the best cost/mile by buying the lowest number of miles in each band.

i.e don’t buy 99,000 miles, buy 75,000 miles as that way you’ll be paying less per mile.

Getting the cheapest cost/mile

To make sure you get the cheapest cost/mile AAdvantage is offering you have to purchase the maximum number of miles permissible in this promotion – 150,000 miles

150,000 miles will cost you $4,786.88 and will net you 270,000 miles after the bonus is applied.

270,000 miles at a cost of $4,786.88 comes to ~ 1.77 cents per mile.

Is 1.77 Cents/Mile A Good Price?

I value AAdvantage miles at around 1.2 cents each and, considering how hard they are to use economically for premium cabin travel, I may even revise that number down soon.

I’m not a buyer of AAdvantage miles at this price…but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. I means you should consider your options carefully

 

American Airlines 777-300ER Business Class

If you manage to fins the unicorn that is an international long-haul  Business Class saver award on American Airlines this us what the costs look like:

  • USA – Europe: 115,000 miles roundtrip costing ~ $2,035 in this promotion
  • USA – Japan: 120,000 miles roundtrip costing ~ $2,124 in this promotion
  • USA – Hong Kong: 140,000 miles roundtrip costing ~ $2,478 in this promotion
  • USA – Australia/New Zealand: 160,000 miles roundtrip costing ~ $2,832 in this promotion

There will be taxes to add to those costs when booking the awards but as long as you avoid London they shouldn’t be too bad – American doesn’t add its own surcharges to award bookings.

If you’re looking around online right now and you can see that one of those awards is available to book then it may be a good idea to buy miles in this promotion.

$2,035 to Europe isn’t a great deal but Business Class fares across the Pacific are usually considerably higher than those across the Atlantic so a saver award to Japan or Hong Kong could be good value here.

Don’t forget American’s partners

One of the better value propositions is probably a roundtrip Qatar Airways Business Class award from the US to the Middle East for 140,000 miles.

In this promotion buying enough miles for that award would cost $2,478 and, considering you would be flying with a great Business Class carrier, that would be a very good deal indeed.

Other awards that could be considered worthwhile are JAL Business Class and First Class awards to Tokyo (120,000 and 180,000 miles respectively for a roundtrip). $2,124 isn’t bad for a Business Class roundtrip and $3,186 is pretty good for JAL’s First Class product too.

Use The Right Credit Card

American Airlines processes its own miles transactions so, if you have a credit card that offers you a bonus for spending in with an airline or on travel in general, you can earn a lot of bonus points when you buy miles through this promotion.

If I was buying miles in this promotion I would use my Amex Platinum personal card as 5 Membership Rewards points/$ improves the proposition nicely (and Membership Rewards points can be used both economically and easily).

Bottom Line

I know that this is close to being the cheapest rate we’ve seen American Airlines hawk its miles this year but I still wouldn’t buy AAdvantage miles speculatively.

There’s absolutely no guarantee that saver awards space will become easier to find and there’s no guarantee that American won’t devalue its award charts before you get a chance to use the miles.

If you can see that an award you want to book is actually available and if the math shows the price you’re paying for the miles makes it a good deal, then go ahead and buy all the miles you need….but don’t stockpile miles in the vain hope that American starts getting more liberal with its award space….that’s a great way to get burned.