American Airlines (AA) has become pretty famous in the world of points and miles for its epic mileage sales, but we’re surprised to see AA kick off 2020 with a best-ever 80% bonus on purchased miles.
While this is the best bonus we’ve ever seen, percentage wise, we actually saw a slightly deeper discount on AAdvantage miles in summer 2018, and again in summer 2019. Then, AA offered bonuses up to 67% but also took 10% off the final price. Meaning, with this current promotion you can get miles as cheap as 1.78 cents per mile, though the cheapest they’ve ever gone is 1.72 cents per mile in summer 2018 and 1.73 cents per mile in summer 2019.
For some travelers, 1.78 cents per mile translates to one of those times when it is actually a good idea to buy miles. However, it should be noted that AA moved to a dynamic pricing system late in 2019, removing fixed pricing for its own routes (and basically giving itself carte blanche to charge what it wants for award travel based on “demand”). Sadly, this has eliminated nearly all cost-effective options for buying miles and using them directly on AA. In addition, with LATAM Airlines leaving the oneworld alliance in October 2020, those looking to travel to Latin America on miles should look elsewhere.
That said, Royal Air Maroc will be joining oneworld in March 2020, opening up plenty of new, lucrative mileage redemption opportunities for travel between the United States and Africa. Moreover, AA still has fixed mileage award rates for its partner airlines. So if you’re looking to fly long-haul in first- or business-class on one of AA’s many premium partners like Air Tahiti Nui, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, Fiji Airways, Japan Airlines, or Qatar Airways (and soon Royal Air Maroc), purchasing AAdvantage miles and redeeming them can often get you that business- or first-class seat for far less than retail price.
Through this current promotion, AAdvantage members can buy AAdvantage miles for a fraction of the regular price directly from its “Buy, gift and share miles” page on aa.com.
There is a total of five tiers of bonuses for this promotion, ranging from 30% to 80%. Here’s the bonus chart with the math for you to gauge the total cost per mile:
- Buy 15,000–49,000 miles, get a 30% bonus, equating to 2.58 cents to 2.50 cents per mile.
- Buy 50,000 miles, get a 40% bonus, equating to 2.32 cents per mile.
- Buy 51,000–99,000 miles, get a 50% bonus, equating to 2.16 cents to 2.14 cents per mile.
- Buy 100,000–149,000 miles, get a 70% bonus, equating to 1.89 cents to 1.87 cents per mile.
- Buy 150,000 points, get an 80% bonus, equating to 1.78 cents per mile.
To truly make this promotion worthwhile, you’ll want to go for the max: Buy 150,000 miles and get an 80% bonus of 120,000 bonus miles, although it’ll cost you $4,794.50. That may sound like a lot, but 270,000 miles can get you across the world—in first- or business-class—if used correctly. Case in point: It costs 280,000 for two round-trip tickets in business-class between the United States and the Middle East on Qatar Airways or Etihad Airways. Try finding those tickets using cash and you’ll likely be paying around 5K a piece!
It sounds tedious, but if you have a trip and dates in mind, first check the mileage price of that ticket on AA.com. Then do the math to see if buying miles works for you. This bit of homework could save you hundreds, even thousands. But we’d recommend acting now, as American has not placed a timeline on this promotion and it could disappear at any time.