American Airlines

Up to 115,000 American Airlines bonus miles when you buy miles – is it worth it??

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American Airlines just sent an email about their latest offer to get bonus miles when buy buy miles. Only through April 28, 2016.

Here’s the offer:

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Miles purchased Bonus miles
6,000 – 9,000 1,500
10,000 – 19,000 3,500
20,000 – 29,000 7,500
30,000 – 39,000 15,000
40,000 – 54,000 22,500
55,000 – 69,000 30,000
70,000 – 84,000 40,000
85,000 – 99,000 50,000
100,000 – 124,000 60,000
125,000 – 149,000 75,000
150,000 115,000

So is it worth it?

First off – if you are even CONSIDERING it, make sure you are buying the minimum you need in a tier to get the bonus miles.  Example: Buy 70,000 miles and get 40,000 bonus miles. If you buy 84,000 you still get 40,000 bonus increasing your price per mile greatly. At 85,000 miles you get a whole extra 10,000 miles.

Secondly, I value miles “stored in the bank” at 1 cent per mile. So if I have nowhere to spend the miles right now, I’m not going to pay to bank them at 2 cents per mile – or roughly where this deal lands when you maximize it.

So when is this a good deal? Just like my post on the Hilton HHonors offer to buy those points at half a cent each, the answer is when you can calculate that it’s a good deal for a flight you want now.

Here’s an example:

If I want to fly business class to London from New York on August 3rd and come back August 17th – two days I can find saver availability on American Airlines metal, I can do the trip with miles for 115,000 miles +$291.16 USD (taxes fees).  If I use “Buy Miles” during this current sale, I’ll pay $2,212.50 for the miles + the taxes/fees = $2503.66

If I went to to book this same business class ticket in cash, the all-in price is $3954,

So IF I’m happy to fly those days, and IF I think $2,500 RT to London in business class is reasonable, then it’s a logical thing to buy. You’re saving almost $1,500.

But the thing is that I did have to hunt a bit to find award ticket availability that was on AA metal. Why not use British Airways given they are a OneWorld and AAdvantage partner? Because the taxes and fees on a BA round trip are more than $900 more!  (And the reason why, if you don’t know, is just because they add a random surcharge to award tickets. It’s under the guise of a fuel surcharge but, if you have been underground for the last year, fuel has been at record recent low prices).

I could do this analysis a hundred ways and the bottom line is that if you find award space on a ticket without a massive surcharge, on dates you are happy to fly, it’s not a bad deal.  Depending on your route it can save you thousands.  This may include other partners like Finnair via Helsinki or Cathay Pacific.  But you need to find the award space before you buy this and put those flights on HOLD so you don’t lose them while buying the miles.

Transatlantic service in business class for around $2k is a solid deal. But also remember that since you are using an award ticket, you won’t earn any AAdvantage miles for the trip. So that’s a minimum of 6,000 miles unearned if in coach or 9,000 in business. for this route.  Probably only a huge deal if you are trying to qualify or re-qualify for AAdvantage elite status – but worth bearing in mind when you run the numbers.