If you’ve put all your eggs in the Qantas and Velocity basket, you might be surprised to know that many overseas programs offer unbeatable value with miles. One shining example is American Airlines AAdvantage. This region-based loyalty scheme has many sweet spots. Plus, it’s easy to buy miles on sale and use them for travel on oneworld airlines.
How does flying Qantas Business Class from Sydney to Perth for around AU$500 sound? With what Qantas charges, that’s sometimes more than 75% off the cash rate! If you’re ready to step up your points hacking game, then we’re ready to help.
How do I buy AAdvantage miles?
If you’re an AAdvantage member with an account more than 30-days old, it’s very easy to buy miles. (If you don’t have an AAdvantage account, sign up now to take part in future offers).
- Head to the AAdvantage buy/gift/transfer miles landing page.
- Log in to your AAdvantage account when prompted.
- Choose the number of miles you wish to purchase.
- Enter your payment information to complete checkout.
- Your purchased AAdvantage miles should be ready for use almost instantly.
You’re allowed to buy up to 200,000 AAdvantage miles per calendar year, with no limits on the actual number of transactions you perform. The rack rates start at US$64.50 for 2,000 miles to US$6450 for 200,000 miles (3.225 US cents per mile). You’ll notice that it doesn’t normally get cheaper when you buy more miles.
But when there is a promotion on, you tend to get bigger discounts on higher purchase amounts. That’s when buying a big stash of miles could be advantageous.
We value AAdvantage miles at 1.50 cents (AUD) each. When purchasing and using AAdvantage miles, we’d suggest you try and exceed this value per point. It shouldn’t be too hard for Business and First Class redemptions.
Note that the transaction is run by points.com, which is based in the US. You’ll get charged an international transaction fee since the purchase amount is in USD.
Where can I go with AAdvantage miles?
Turns out, plenty of places! Here are some of the sweet spot awards for travellers from Australia and NZ:
|Example redemption||AAdvantage miles required||Base cost with a 45% discount|
|Any Qantas domestic Business Class flight||20,000||$352 USD|
|To New Zealand in Qantas Business Class||25,000||$440 USD|
|To Fiji in Qantas or Fiji Airways Business Class||30,000||$528 USD|
|To Asia in Qantas/Cathay Pacific/Japan Airlines Business Class||40,000||$704 USD|
|To Asia in Qantas/Japan Airlines First Class||60,000||$1056 USD|
|To the US in Qantas/AA Business Class||80,000||$1408 USD|
|To Europe in oneworld/Etihad Business Class||85,000||$1496 USD|
*All redemption prices are in USD, one-way, and don’t include booking fees, taxes, and other charges
Using AAdvantage miles for Qatar Airways
If you want to fly Qatar Airways Qsuites from Australia to Europe or the USA, then AAdvantage miles are a great option. This is because Qantas Frequent Flyer usually only offers one Business reward seat out of Australia, which is no good for couples or groups. But through AAdvantage, you can access up to four seats per flight!
Also consider that Sydney-Doha-London would cost 159,000 Qantas Points, or only 85,000 AAdvantage miles. You’ll also pay significantly less in carrier charges and taxes – we’re talking hundreds of dollars per passenger. It’s a true win-win.
Using AAdvantage miles for Qantas
Let’s loop back to our Qantas Sydney-Perth Business Class example.
- Say you’re planning two return trips, so you buy 80,000 miles for US$1,419 when there is a 45% discount.
- Since each flight requires 20,000 miles, the base cost is US$354.75 per one-way flight.
- Taxes are US$18.20 each way.
So in total, you’re only spending US$372.95 (~AU$521) for a flight worth AU$2,572. Taking taxes and currency exchanges into account, you’re getting an incredible 12.73 cents (AUD) per AAdvantage mile!
Why should I purchase AAdvantage miles?
- 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.
- Very helpful award hold policy: with AA, it’s possible to hold award bookings for up to five days (if booking more than two weeks from departure) or 24 hours (if booking closer). You can pencil in plans and then confirm the ticket once you’ve bought or transferred the miles into your account. This policy makes it super easy to make risk-free redemption holds while you re-confirm the total cost of making your booking and buying the points.
- More generous point promotions than Qantas and Velocity: AAdvantage offers the option of purchasing miles with frequent bonuses and discounts. With Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity, points purchases are expensive.
Buying AAdvantage miles vs earning miles
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.
Marriott Bonvoy is also a points transfer partner.
Purchasing miles directly from American Airlines is usually the most cost-effective method if you have a specific flight you’re targeting.
We 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!
Factors to consider when purchasing AAdvantage miles
Just like any miles purchase deal, you’ll need to consider the following factors:
- The cost of the miles required for your intended route.
- The US$30-40 phone booking fee for some partners.
- The AUD/USD exchange rate, which is always in flux.
- The taxes that accompany the booking.
- The time taken to research award availability and make the booking.
- AAdvantage accounts under 30 days old aren’t permitted to buy or gift miles, so register for an account now to take advantage of future promotions.
- AAdvantage usually lets you purchase or gift 200,000 miles (not including the bonus miles on offer) per year per account. Ensure you’re 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.
How do I book with AAdvantage miles?
You can book online using your miles if you’re looking to fly British Airways, Qantas, Qatar Airways and a few other airline partners. Otherwise, contact the (usually excellent) call centre for the region, which happens to be in Fiji.
From Australia, you can call them on (02) 9101 1948, selecting Option 2 for award travel.
AAdvantage miles are great to consider if you want an extra source of points in addition to a credit card (or if you can’t apply for one). Anyone with an account can simply buy the number of miles needed and use them for great-value flights. Better yet, AAdvantage awards are quite reasonably-priced.
With a Business Class flight from Australia to Europe pricing at a flat 85,000 miles – and an annual purchase limit of 200,000 miles per account – a couple can buy enough miles for a return trip. Happy days!