Pros & Cons: Should You Ever Buy American Airlines Miles?

By Ivan PetrenkoJun 16, 2024 18:00 PMNews
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American Airlines A319 blasting off on a gorgeous spring day.
American Airlines A319 blasting off on a gorgeous spring day. Source: unsplash

Buying American Airlines miles can be a strategic move in certain scenarios, offering great incentives through the AAdvantage program for frequent flyers and customers of the airline's partners worldwide. Here's a closer look at when it makes sense to buy miles and when it might not be the best option.

When It Makes Sense to Buy American Airlines Miles

You Have Nearly Enough Miles for a Dream Trip

Imagine you're planning a vacation from New York (JFK) to Mexico (CUN) on American Airlines, requiring approximately 10,000 miles for an award ticket. If you've accumulated 8,000 miles, purchasing the remaining 2,000 miles for around $60 can be advantageous. This approach allows you to secure an award ticket, often at a significant saving compared to a regular ticket purchase, ensuring your dream trip without delay.

Almost Enough Miles for a Cabin Upgrade

If you have a business class flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (NRT) and need 15,000 miles to upgrade to a higher class but currently have 13,000 miles, buying the additional 2,000 miles is a smart investment. This enhances your flight experience, making an 11-hour journey more comfortable. The cost of purchasing miles for an upgrade is often less than the price of a full-fare ticket, providing better value and a superior in-flight experience.

Most Times, There’s No Need to Buy American Airlines Miles

Discounted Miles May Be More Costly Than Tickets

American Airlines occasionally offers promotions for purchasing miles at reduced rates, such as 35% off the regular price. However, these deals might not always offer the best value. For instance, buying enough miles for a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Chicago O'Hare (ORD) under such a promotion could cost around $221, while the same ticket purchased directly in cash might cost only $204. It's crucial to evaluate whether buying miles under these promotions genuinely offers savings compared to paying directly for tickets.

Instead, Earn Miles Through a Citi / AAdvantage Credit Card

AAdvantage members can earn miles through flying and everyday purchases without needing to buy miles directly. The Citi / AAdvantage partnership offers a range of credit cards tailored to different travelers' needs. Whether you prioritize lounge access, frequent business travel perks, or avoiding annual fees, there's an AAdvantage card to suit your preferences. These cards allow you to earn miles on various expenses, such as dining, hotel bookings, shopping, and events, making it a practical alternative to purchasing miles.

AAdvantage History

In 1981, American Airlines introduced the AAdvantage® loyalty program, one of the first frequent flyer programs designed to reward members for their travel loyalty. Over the past 40 years, AAdvantage has remained at the forefront of customer loyalty programs, continuously innovating and expanding partnerships to offer diverse options to its members. The program's commitment to personalization and convenience ensures that members can easily enjoy its benefits.

In Conclusion

Buying American Airlines miles can be strategic in specific scenarios, such as when you're just shy of the miles needed for a dream trip or an upgrade. However, it's essential to compare the cost of purchasing miles against the price of a regular ticket, especially during promotions. Additionally, the Citi / AAdvantage credit card offers a practical alternative, allowing members to earn miles through everyday purchases. The AAdvantage program's rich history and innovative partnerships highlight American Airlines' dedication to rewarding travel loyalty.

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