Buy AA miles for 1.77 USD cents each: good for oneworld premium travel

Guide to buying AAdvantage miles for cheaper Business & First Class travel with oneworld partner airlines

GUIDE: Buying Points
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 4 minutes
POSTED: May 5, 2017
UPDATED: May 6, 2017
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines is offering a discount of 10-40% on buying miles in its latest promotion, which is cheaper than the average but not as generous as the last offer in March.

Buying AAdvantage miles makes the most sense when topping up your balance for a specific Business or First Class redemption on American Airlines, Etihad Airways or a oneworld partner like Qantas.

The current AAdvantage purchase miles promotion

  • Discount: 10-40% (tiered)
  • Valid until: 31 May 2017
  • Best value redemptions: domestic Qantas Business Class, Fiji Airways Business to Fiji, Qantas/Cathay Pacific/Japan Airlines Business or First to Asia, and oneworld Business to Europe
  • Book awards online: for AA, Qantas and British Airways (and some others – full list)
  • Book awards over the phone: for other partners, you can only book over the phone and are charged a $75 USD booking fee
  • Link: buy AAdvantage miles

This promotion yields the cheapest per mile price of 1.77 USD cents per mile when buying at the maximum 150,000 miles with a 40% discount.

Why purchase AAdvantage miles?

  1. For oneworld partner redemptions: American Airlines is a member of the oneworld alliance, so you can redeem AAdvantage miles across any oneworld airline, including Qantas, Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Qatar Airways
  2. Very helpful award hold policy: with AA, it is possible to hold award bookings for up to five days (if booking more than two weeks from departure) or 24 hours (if booking closer), allowing you to pencil in plans and then confirm the ticket once you’ve bought or transferred the miles into your account. This policy makes it really easy to make risk-free redemption holds while you re-confirm total costs of making your booking and buying the points
  3. More generous point promotions than Qantas and Velocity: AAdvantage offers the option of purchasing miles outright at a fixed value, unlike Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity, where points purchases are both expensive and limited in the amount you can buy

The best value AAdvantage redemptions for Australian and NZ travellers

Here are some of the better-priced and more readily-available awards for travellers from Australia and NZ:

Example RedemptionAAdvantage Miles requiredCost (USD) with latest promotion at highest bonus tier (150,000 miles)*
*All redemption prices are in USD, one-way, and do not include booking fees, taxes and other charges
Any Business Class domestic Australia flight with Qantas20000$354
Australia to/from New Zealand in Business Class with Qantas or LATAM 25000$442.5
Australia or New Zealand to Fiji on Fiji Airways Business Class30000$531
Australia / New Zealand Business Class to Asia Zone 1 (Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam)40000$708
Australia / New Zealand Business Class to Asia Zone 2 (Japan and Korea)40000$708
Australia / New Zealand First Class to Asia Zone 160000$1062
Australia / New Zealand Business Class to Europe on oneworld airlines (excludes Etihad)85000$1504.5

Factors to consider when purchasing AAdvantage miles

Just like any miles purchase deal, you’ll need to take into consideration the following factors:

  • The cost of the miles required for your intended route
  • The $75 USD phone booking fee for some partners
  • The USD:AUD exchange rate
  • The taxes that come along with the booking, which are most easily confirmed by American over the phone
  • The time taken to research award availability and make the booking
  • AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old are not permitted to buy or gift miles, so register for an account now so you can take advantage of future promotions
  • AAdvantage usually lets you purchase or gift 100,000-150,000 miles (not including the bonus miles on offer) per year per account receiving the miles, so ensure you are buying into a deal when you have a redemption in mind OR you think it’s a really good one
  • Be sure to get to the checkout page to see the full cost of your purchase including all USD fees and taxes

Previous offers

The simplest way to track historical AAdvantage offers is with the US cents per mile cost for the best offer tier for that period:

  • 1.77c May 2017
  • 1.80c March 2017
  • 2.24c February 2017
  • 2.13c January 2017
  • 1.77c December 2016
  • 1.90c November 2016
  • 2.02c September 2016
  • 2.00c August 2016
  • 1.72c June 2016
  • 1.89c May 2016
  • 1.81c March 2016
  • 2.02c February 2016
  • 2.13c January 2016
  • 1.81c December 2015
  • 1.98c November 2015
  • 2.10c October 2015
  • 2.09c August 2015
  • 2.00c July 2015
  • 2.06c May/June 2015
  • 2.09c May 2015
  • 2.00c April 2015
  • 2.07c February 2015
  • 2.14c January 2015

Why purchasing AAdvantage miles is easier than earning them

The most common way to acquire AAdvantage miles for Australian and NZ travellers outside of flights would be to either:

  • purchase them (the purpose of this guide)
  • earn them through hotel stays, car rental or the AAdvantage online shopping mall for purchases from US retailers

Starwood Preferred Guest is also a points transfer partner, and they also run promotions for discount or bonus points a couple of times per year, which may also be worth taking advantage of.

Purchasing miles directly from American Airlines is usually the most cost-effective method if you have a specific flight you are targeting.

With most of these promotions I am usually quite risk-averse, and would only recommend purchasing miles for topping up an account or buying the full chunk of miles if you have a specific redemption in mind, but not to purchase speculatively. Your preferences may differ though!

Making your booking

Bookings using your miles can be made online if looking to fly American, British Airways, Qantas or a few other airline partners.

If not, they’ll have to be made over the phone with the (usually excellent) call centre for the region, which happens to be in Fiji.

From Australia, you can contact them on (02) 9101 1948, selecting option 2 for award travel.

Be sure to check the taxes and fees that will be incurred with your booking as well. I find the easiest way to do this is simply to research availability online on the Qantas website and call AAdvantage to price up the booking.

Summing up

The appeal of AAdvantage has declined since their devaluation in March 2016, but Australia and New Zealand still do have some well-priced redemption opportunities available to use for cheaper premium cabin flights by buying miles and immediately redeeming them.

AAdvantage’s generous award hold policy makes the process much less risky, allowing you to hold an award, buy the miles and then call back to get it ticketed once they are added to your account.

Buying miles to redeem for flights in this way is still time-consuming, requiring you to research availability to death before you can book.

Whilst there aren’t many valuable deals for Economy travellers here, if you are keen for a Business or First Class bargain, you can still pick one up when buying AAdvantage miles.

You can purchase AAdvantage miles here.

Are you new to the purchasing points game?

If you’re new to the world of buying points/miles, I’ve written a full intro guide.

You can also access more comprehensive guides for buying points in each individual frequent flyer program below.