American Airlines is offering a 10% discount and 42,500 bonus miles  on the purchase of miles through February 8, 2016.Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 7.05.56 PMYou can now buy 142,500 American Airlines miles including bonus for $2,884 or 2.02 cents each.

The bonus miles are tiered, based on how many miles you purchase. The best deals are to buy 75k + 30k or 100k + 42.5k.Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 7.06.00 PM

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 + 42,500 bonus miles for $2,884.Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 7.07.20 PM

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That works out to getting 142,500 miles for 2.02 cents each. Last year we saw a sale that offered American Airlines miles for 1.81 cents each.

Math

The cheapest miles cost 2.02 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 2.02 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 0.0202, 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.

Devaluation

I really don’t see much need to add a special note about the upcoming hugely negative changes to American Airlines’ award chart on March 22. They shouldn’t affect mileage purchasers, since I just mentioned in the last paragraph to only buy miles for an award you have on hold and are ready to book.

But for the sake of thoroughness, definitely make sure you use any purchased miles by March 21. (“Use” means “book.” You can fly the booked award any time in 2016 or early 2017.)

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 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 142,500 American Airlines for $2,884 or 2.02 cents each. That’s too high to buy speculatively. Hopefully cheaper sales come along.

The American Airlines miles sales are 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.

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