American Airlines is offering up to a 50% bonus on the purchase of AAdvantage miles through January 29, 2016. You can now buy 100,000 American Airlines miles and get 50,000 bonus miles, for a total of 150,000 miles, for 2.13 cents each.

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The bonus miles are tiered, based on how many miles you purchase. The best deals are to buy 70k + 35k or 100k + 50k.

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American Airlines miles cost 2.95 cents each plus a 7.5% excise tax, and every purchase has a $30 processing fee. The cheapest per-mile price comes from purchasing 100,000 American Airlines miles + 50,000 bonus miles for $3,201.25.Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 10.28.54 PM

 

That works out to getting 150,000 miles for 2.13 cents each. Just last week a sale ended that offered American Airlines miles for 1.81 cents each.

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

Of course instead of spending any money to buy miles you could get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, which are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

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Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Math

The cheapest miles cost 2.13 cents each during this promotion, and that requires shelling out $3,200+. I value American Airlines miles around 1.8 cents each, so there is no way I would buy these miles speculatively for 2.13 cents. The only way it could possibly make sense to buy miles at these prices is if you had an immediate high value use for them.

Possible high value uses are off peak international awards like 20,000 miles one way to Europe and partner First Class awards like Cathay Pacific First Class to Southeast Asia for 67,500 miles.

To figure out if you have a high value use, use this simple expression:

(A – B) / (C + D)

  • A: Value of the award. Important: this is the lesser of the cash price and your subjective value.
  • B: Taxes on the award
  • C: Miles used on the award
  • D: Miles you would earn if you purchased the award ticket with cash

This will spit out the dollar value you are getting for your miles. If that number is greater than 0.0213, put your dream award on a free five day hold with American Airlines, then buy miles during this promotion, and book the held award. Otherwise, don’t buy.

Buy AAdvantage Miles with These Credit Cards

AAdvantage miles purchases are processed directly by American Airlines. That’s great news!

It means you can buy them with your Citi Prestige® Card, and its $250 Air Travel Credit will refund you the first $250 of the purchase price of the miles (plus you’ll earn 4x ThankYou Points on the first $250 of the miles purchase.)

It means that the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 3x ThankYou Points on the purchase of American Airlines miles.Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 3.26.59 PM

It means you can purchase American Airlines miles with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, then use your Arrival miles for an offsetting statement credit.

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Bottom Line

You can buy 150,000 American Airlines for $3,201 or 2.13 cents each. That’s too high to buy speculatively. Hopefully cheaper sales come along.

The American Airlines miles sales are now processed by American Airlines itself, so you can get category bonuses on cards that bonus airline or travel purchases like my latest card, the Citi Prestige® Card which offers 3x on purchases from airlines, or you can use your Arrival Plus to get American Airlines miles for zero cash.