American Airlines is offering up to 115,000 bonus miles on the purchase of miles through April 8, 2016. You can now buy 265,000 American Airlines miles including bonus for $4,787 or 1.81 cents each.

The bonus miles are tiered, based on how many miles you purchase. The best deal is to buy 150,000.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 3.38.18 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 150,000 American Airlines miles + 115,000 bonus miles for $4,787.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 3.39.07 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-30 at 3.39.12 PM

That works out to getting 265,000 miles for 1.81 cents each. The most recent pre-devaluation sale was for 2.02 cents each, but last year we saw a sale that offered American Airlines miles for 1.81 cents each.

Math

The cheapest miles cost 1.81 cents each during this promotion, and that requires shelling out $4,700+. I value American Airlines miles around 1.5 cents each, so there is no way I would buy these miles speculatively for 1.81 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 22,500 miles one way to Europe and partner Business Class awards like Japan Airlines Business Class to Japan or Korea for 60,000 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 0.0181, 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 you can purchase American Airlines miles with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, then use your Arrival miles for an offsetting statement credit.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 5.54.18 PM

Bottom Line

You can buy 265,000 American Airlines for $4,787 or 1.81 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.

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.