How to buy American Airlines miles at the best value

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With American Airlines being one of the largest airlines in the world, it’s easy to understand why  American Airlines miles are among the most useful airline currencies out there. Whether you’re trying to get to Europe or just across the U.S. using travel rewards, there may come a time when you consider buying American Airlines miles. 

We’ll show you how to buy American Airlines miles. Plus, show you how to determine if purchasing miles makes sense for your particular situation.

Steps on how to buy American Airline miles 

Buying American Airlines miles is an easy four-step process. 

Step 1. Log in to your American Airlines account

Head to AA’s homepage and login to your account. If you don’t log on first, you’ll be asked to do so after you’ve navigated to the “Buy miles” page.

Step 2. Go to the “Buy miles” page

Click on the “AAdvantage” tab at the upper right-hand corner of AA’s homepage. From there you’ll see a dropdown. Select “Buy, gift, or transfer miles.”

This is the point at which, if you hadn’t already logged in to your American Airlines frequent flyer account, you’ll be asked to do so.

Step 3. Choose the number of miles you want to purchase

On this page, you’ll see your account info along with the information regarding the number of miles you can buy, gift or transfer. You’ll also be able to select the number of miles you want to purchase and the total cost for those miles.

After selecting the number of miles you want to purchase, click the “Continue” button.

Step 4. Complete your purchase

The final step requires you to enter your payment information in order to complete your purchase. Once you’ve accepted the terms and conditions, click the “Pay now” button. 

That’s it! Your miles (along with any bonus miles you may have received) will be in your account. 

At what value do we recommend buying American Airlines miles?

According to our valuations, American Airlines miles are worth an average of 1.4 cents apiece. So you should try to buy American Airlines miles when the price you’re paying for them is somewhat close to that value. 

That said, if you have a particular trip in mind, have found the award tickets you want, and just need a few extra miles to top off your account, buying miles may make sense regardless of the price you’re paying. But you should always consider if earning American Airlines miles another way (for free) is a feasible option. 

Is purchasing points during a promotion a good deal?

It depends. It all comes down to the math. 

At the time of writing, American Airlines was offering up to a 50% bonus on purchased miles. So you could purchase 100,000 miles for $3,500 and get a 50,000-mile bonus, for a total of 150,000 miles. At that price, you’d be paying 2.3 cents per mile — more than the average value you’ll get from American miles. 

In this case, this particular promotion won’t make sense for most. And this certainly isn’t the best deal we’ve seen on American miles. For example, over the last few months, we’ve seen American miles for sale for anywhere between 1.6 and 1.8 cents apiece. 

Does purchasing American Airlines points with a co-branded credit card earn you double points?

Yes! If you purchase American miles with a co-branded American Airlines card, like the ones mentioned below, the purchase will code as airfare and you’ll earn 2x American Airlines miles on the purchase.

You could also consider using a top travel rewards card that earns bonus points on airfare purchases, like The Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the American Express® Gold Card.

Best credit card to earn American Airline miles 

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

The Citi American Airlines Platinum Select card is currently offering 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. The $99 annual fee is waived the first 12 months.

The Citi American Airlines Platinum Select is worth it if you’ll use perks like a free first checked bag and preferred boarding. Be sure to read our Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select review.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

With this card, you can earn 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. The card has a $450 annual fee, but being a cardholder is the easiest way to get American Airlines Admirals Club lounge access. And the card offers other valuable perks, too.

Read our Citi AAdvantage Executive review for all the details.

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®

With the bonus from this business credit card, you can earn 65,000 American Airlines miles after after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening. That’s enough for a one-way, business-class award flight to Paris or eight short-haul flights within the U.S. — a great deal for a card with a $99 annual fee that’s waived the first 12 months.

read our CitiBusiness AAdvantage review more for details.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

For more ideas on ways to earn miles, check out our in-depth guide to earning American Airlines miles.

(Photo by NextNewMedia/Shutterstock)

FAQ about buying American Airline miles

Where is the best place to buy American Airline miles?

There’s only one spot from where you can buy American Airlines miles. And that’s through American’s website using the steps outlined above. 

Can American Airlines miles be purchased as a gift?

Yes! You can gift American Airlines miles. The process is pretty much the same as it is for buying miles with the only difference being you’ll need to enter the recipient’s information, including name, AAdvantage number and email.

Do American Airline miles expire?

Yes, American Airlines miles expire after 18 months of inactivity. That said, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the airline has suspended mileage expiration through Dec. 31, 2020.

In order to help you, our readers, we’ve compiled a list of multiple ways to keep your American Airlines miles from expiring. Many methods, like shopping through the American Airlines shopping portal, are free and easy to do!

Bottom line

Buying American Airlines miles, whether there’s a current promotion or not, is never a great idea unless you have a particular trip in mind. You’re going to get a better deal on purchased points when there’s a bonus on points purchases, so it’s best to buy then. But a majority of the time we recommend earning American Airlines miles through activities like shopping portals, hotel stays, flights, etc. 

Deborah Atchison is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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