Should You Buy Miles Directly From American?

If you don’t have enough miles for your next great trip, the airlines are always happy to sell you the difference. Usually, the amount that they charge you per mile is punitive. In other words, the cost of the miles greatly exceeds their value. Sometimes, though, they’ll offer a discount. And while I don’t normally advise buying miles, there are times when it works.

American Airlines Mileage Sale


Buy American miles for 1.9 cents each. But there are a few conditions…

American is currently offering a pretty good discount if you buy miles in bulk. Buy 150,000 miles, and they’ll give you a bonus of 100,000. That brings the cost of miles down to 1.9 cents per mile. It’s not the best deal that they’ve ever offered, but it’s decent. So should you be a buyer?

When You Should Buy

  • You should only buy miles if you buy the maximum amount available. In this case, the maximum amount is 150,000 miles. If you drop your purchase by even 1,000 miles, the bonus drops precipitously (in this case, to 75,000 miles). That pushes your cost up to 2.1 cents per mile, an increase of over 10%.
  • Only buy if you already know when you want to use them. If you were planning a trip with cash, but the cost to buy miles and immediately redeem them for the same trip is less, consider doing so. You won’t earn miles on the flight if you redeem for a trip, so be sure to add that into the cost of what you’re giving up.

When You Shouldn’t Buy

Anytime else. Don’t buy just to build up your “bank” of miles. You never know when an airline will choose to devalue, meaning that the miles you paid thousands of dollars for aren’t worth as much.

Normally, I’m not a fan of buying miles. They’re often expensive and can be difficult to use. But if you have an opportunity to buy a ticket immediately, it’s worth a look.


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