American Airlines is now offering up to 85,000 bonus miles and an additional 10% discount when buying AAdvantage miles before August 31 – this equates to around 1.83 US cents per mile.
This is worth taking a look for those who have an upcoming redemption in mind and need to top up their account – but only if you know you’ll get the most from a large purchase.
So, how does this work for cheaper Business and First Class flights?
The current AAdvantage purchase miles promotion
- Bonus: 3,500 to 85,000 miles (tiered)
- Discount: 10% starting from 15,000 miles
- Valid until: 31 August 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, 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
- You can buy miles in this promotion through this link
This promotion yields the cheapest per mile price of 1.83 USD cents per mile when buying at the maximum 150,000 miles (235,000 miles total including the bonus) with a 10% discount.
Why 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 all those who fly direct from New Zealand – Qantas, Cathay Pacific, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways
- For other partner redemptions: American Airlines have other partner airlines that fly to New Zealand that you can redeem AAdvantage miles for, including Fiji Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui
- 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 easy to make risk-free redemption holds while you re-confirm total costs of making your booking and buying the points
- More generous point promotions than Qantas and Air New Zealand: AAdvantage offers the option of purchasing miles outright at a fixed value, unlike Qantas Frequent Flyer and Air New Zealand Airpoints, where points purchases are both expensive and limited in the amount and circumstances in which you can buy
The best value AAdvantage redemptions for NZ travellers
Here are some of the better-priced and more readily-available awards for travellers from NZ:
|Example Redemption||AAdvantage Miles required||Cost (USD) with latest promotion at highest purchase tier (150,000 miles)*|
|* All redemption prices are in USD, one way and do not included booking fees, taxes and other charges|
|Australia to/from New Zealand in Business Class with Qantas or LAN||25000||$457.5|
|New Zealand to Fiji in Fiji Airways Business Class||30000||$549|
|New Zealand to Tahiti or Air Tahiti Nui Business Class||30000||$549|
|New Zealand Business Class to Asia Zone 1 (Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam)||40000||$732|
|New Zealand Business Class to Asia Zone 2 (Japan and Korea)||40000||$732|
|New Zealand Business Class to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines||65000||$1189.5|
|New Zealand Business Class to Contiguous 48 U.S. states||80000||$1464|
|New Zealand Business Class to Europe||85000||$1555.5|
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:NZD 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
The simplest way to track historical AAdvantage offers is with the US cents per mile cost for the best offer tier for that period:
- 1.83c per mile in August 2017
- 1.72c per mile in July 2017
- 1.72c per mile in June 2017
- 1.77c per mile in May 2017
- 1.80c per mile in March 2017
- 2.24c per mile in February 2017
- 2.13c per mile in January 2017
- 1.77c per mile in December 2016
- 1.90c per mile in November 2016
- 2.02c per mile in September 2016
- 2.00c per mile in August 2016
- 1.72c per mile in June 2016
- 1.89c per mile in May 2016
- 1.81c per mile in March 2016
- 2.02c per mile in February 2016
- 2.13c per mile in January 2016
- 1.81c per mile in December 2015
- 2.00c per mile in November 2015
- 2.10c per mile in October 2015
- 2.09c per mile in August 2015
- 2.00c per mile in July 2015
- 2.06c per mile in May/June 2015
- 2.09c per mile in May 2015
- 2.00c per mile in April 2015
- 2.07c per mile in February 2015
- 2.14c per mile in January 2015
Why purchasing AAdvantage miles is easier than earning them
The most common way to acquire AAdvantage miles for New Zealand 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, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas or and 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 New Zealand, you can contact them on (09) 308 4014, selecting option 3 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.
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.
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.