Up to 33% bonus when you buy American Airlines miles (and AA's ‘sweet spots’)

American Airlines is again offering a bonus of up to 33% when you buy miles. The deal is valid until 31st January

It is worth saying up front that this deal is nowhere near as good as the 50% bonus offer that we saw in 2013, but we have also seen poorer AA deals as well.

You can buy via this page, click on the AA logo.

AA buy miles

The best value comes when you buy 45,000 miles to receive 15,000 for free. That is 60,000 miles for $1,237 including the fee, or 1.25p each.

It probably isn’t worth buying all the miles you need for a redemption at this price – although some of the Etihad deals are tempting. It is an OK price if you need to top-off an account, though.

(That said, you could get 26,000 AA miles for almost nothing – currently selling for $605 – by getting the Starwood Amex credit card before 31st January.)

The ‘sweet spots’ for AA redemptions for a UK resident are the Middle East and India, where business class (flying on a BA plane) is 60,000 miles return vs 80,000 using Avios. First Class is 80,000 AA miles versus 120,000 Avios. You still pay the same taxes as BA would charge, though.

AA is also partners with Etihad which offers you an alternative route to the region via Abu Dhabi. You will pay under £200 in taxes for Heathrow to Abu Dhabi in Business or First (about £250 less than BA) and the onboard product is meant to be excellent. It is only a short drive from Abu Dhabi airport to Dubai as well (70 minutes) and you get a free transfer included in your Business or First Class ticket. (You will also get a free chauffeur to Heathrow.)

Australia is also an amazing bargain.  You need 300,000 Avios to fly First Class to Australia via British Airways Executive Club.  Using American Airlines miles, you only need 160,000 return for First or 120,000 return for Business.

There are also great deals to Hawaii.  AA treats this as part of America (which of course it is!) and so London to Hawaii in Business Class is only 100,000 AA miles.

Other decent deals are UK-US if you fly on an American plane, as you won’t pay any fuel surcharges. (Unlike using Avios, where booking onto transatlantic AA flights requires the same taxes as an identical BA flight.)

Cape Town is also interesting since AA does not charge by segment, unlike BA. Flying to Cape Town on BA using Avios usually means flying to Johannesburg and using more Avios for a Jo’burg – Cape Town connection (30,000 return in Club Europe). Using AA miles, the Jo’burg – Cape Town connection is included for free.

Hyatt 'cash and points' awards now available to book
Need a gift? 1000 Clubcard points (2400 Avios) on £40 hi-fi and fitness equipment
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. Frankie says:

    Although not really a comment on the above post I hope its ok to ask here. Has anyone ever succeeded in using a BA Amex companion voucher to get to Sydney (Sydney is BA’s only BA plane route so the only OZ option) club world or First? Been trying every day since my voucher kicked in a month ago to fly next Boxing Day. Been also trying SIN and BKK to at least get two thirds if the way there. Is my search futile and I should bite the bullet and pay for economy seats and just suffer it? I was on the computer at 00:01 on the day Boxing Day outbound became an available date but no BAEC avios seats were shown. I thought there was always a couple of redemption seats available in each cabin.

  2. james67 says:

    Despite this not being the best deal AA offers I think your assertion that it is probably not worth buying all the miles you need for a trip should be considered more seriously, especially for people who are miles-poor and other options such as SPG card are not available to them at present. For example, in this deal we are getting 60k miles for about £760 so for £800-900 it is possible to get a return business class trip to the sweetest spots from departure points such as DUB or AMS. Ignoring the sweet spots, for example, a one way business class from south east Asia to Europe could be otained for under £850 with 7500 miles left over towards the next trip. It is true that during exception promotional with the likes of AY or MH you might achieve something close as a revenue fare and obtain a few thousand miles too but such opportunities do not come along often. For those who want or require complex itineraries then the argument for buying all the miles required becomes even more compelling. In my experience a good AA agent can be very amenable to helping customers piece together complex routings which would, for example. enable them to fly from BKK to EDI allowing almost full 24hr stopovers in say HKG/KUL and/or LON. For somebody who wants to do something like this then they could still obtain amazing value from buying all the miles required.

  3. I was about to book Dubai with BA in first but this has made me reconsider and look at etihad…. How do you get started with checking availability, transferring points etc. large chuck sitting in Amex MR if that helps?

    • apoorva says:

      You can go to Etihad website>Etihad guest login>Your miles>How to redeem to check reward seats availablity( dont need an etihad guest logic to check reward availablility). The seats marked as Guest Business and Guess First are the one’s available for redemption using AA miles. Once you check availablity on Etihad website, you call AA to book the seats. LHR to Abu Dhabi is 60K AA miles return in business and 80K return in First ( approx £210 in tax and charges). I recently booked Abu Dhabhi to LHR on Business class for 30K miles, £8 tax and £5 telelphone booking fee !

      • I have just looked at availability for one-way (LHR – AUH) in First following your info above. Very hard to find, but seat in Guest First on 16 August on Etihad website showing as 55,109 miles not 40k as given above. Is the 40k what you are charged when you call AA reservations or has cost in miles risen?

    • Amex MR to AA is not great – you need to go via Starwood Preferred Guest, so only 0.625 AA miles for every 1 Amex point.

      Etihad is an Amex partner directly, remember, so you can go 1:1 into them. However, Etihads mileage chart is pretty expensive – I think F is 110k Etihad miles, return, so minimal difference compared to going into AA at 1 to 0.625.

      Why not use Avios to try Qatar First? That would let you use the Avios you have whilst also trying a very snazzy F product.

      • James67 says:

        I have done exactly this for a trip next November. Opted for F on QR1/2 hoping that eill be the launch schedule for QR a380. Also hoping QR will want to outdo EK on their a380 F product.

  4. I’m with James67. Work often takes me to Pakistan and a return in business class (either on Etihad or Qatar, unless I’m mistaken) will cost 60k. Buying these for £760 is a great bargain – cash tickets would be nearer £2k, possibly more.

    Obviously there are the usual caveats – availability may be limited, taxes still have to be paid – but this sweet spot is particularly sweet!

    • apoorva says:

      Buying 60K AA miles would cost around £760, taxes and charges for a LHR-Abu Dhabi business class return would be around £220 ( plus 60K AA miles) . Total cost is around £880 for a business return. You might have to be flexible with seat availability, also Etihad releases only 2 business class and 2 first class tickets as reward seats ! No ideal for a family of 3/4. They release 5 economy seats per flight ( tax and charges £135 pounds plus 40K AA miles for LHR Abu Dhabi return)

      • I heard that Etihad tend to release 2 more J seats when the first two are booked, but I have no idea if this is true or not…anyone? Qatar availability seems pretty good, usually at least 1 or 2 seats per flight and sometimes up to 4.

  5. I second both Raffle’s comments about AA’s Australia sweet spot and james67’s comment about good AA agents. I ‘commute’ to NZ most years for vintage (wine) and, this year, what with Raffle’s excellent posts about AA and Starwood credit cards, I’ve got Auckland to Manchester (with overnight in Melbourne) on Qantas First for 80,000 miles and £58 taxes! AND that includes ‘chaufferdrive’ (which will also take me into Melbourne, where I’m dropping in on friends, and back to the airport).

    Admittedly, availability was very limited – I was just lucky that pretty-much exactly the date I wanted was available (although there was plenty in Business, with a choice of routes, for 60,000 I think). And when I called AA to book, the excellent agent advised me to book the basic route online and then call back to make the time changes to the exact flights I wanted, thus avoiding the phone booking fee (schedule changes are free). [Unfortunately, I got a useless agent the next time I called, so I tried again and then got another good one.]

    So headforpoints is totally paying off for me! Now I’ve just got to decide where I’m going for my $100 Shangri-La meal ;D

  6. “Flying to Cape Town on BA using Avios usually means flying to Johannesburg and using more Avios for a Jo’burg – Cape Town connection (30,000 return in Club Europe).”

    I take it the latter is a Comair flight? Is their Business Class product really called “Club Europe”? (It probably was while Imperial Airways still served that route…)

    While my comment might sound a bit cheeky, I am genuinely interested.

    • It’s not called Club Europe, but if I don’t say that people don’t know what I mean. The Comair set-up is a bit odd, though – normal BA planes, BA livery on the crew etc etc even though you are in Africa.

  7. Pat Bucher says:

    Might be worth pointing out you can only buy 60k miles a year so if you go for this one and a 50% bonus comes along later you will miss out.

    • James67 says:

      Annoyingly a 50% bonus has appeared in the past only a week or so after the ususl 33% ended. Not alwayscthough so I guess it depends whether they achieve some target with the less generous promotion.

  8. Lostlamb says:

    Have to say Etihad availability in business from Heathrow is not great , at least in February and March could only see about 2 flights , also tax quotes vary but £250 the ballpark figure I got from the AA agent .

  9. darrenf says:

    I bought the full allowance in the last 33% sale, topped up with the SPG Amex signup bonus and immediately redeemed for SYD-LHR in QF F. Cash component only £45.

    Note also that because AA are zonal rather than sector based, you can play the APD game – LHR-SYD in F requires £241, but JER-LHR-SYD only asks for £75!. (JER works with Avios redemptions too because it’s a free domestic leg, but with AA you could also start ex-EU)

  10. RussellR says:

    Hi, could someone explain how to book QR or AA as above
    My miles are in BAEC, sorry new to this.

    • You can book with Avios via the BA website for most partner airlines, though you’ll need quite a few more Avios to fly to Australia/New Zealand than the AA miles quoted above.

      • Yes, Avios is 300,000 in F – and that assumes you can get on a direct service. It may be higher if you end up taking multiple connections, as each is priced separately. AA doesn’t care how many connections you take.

  11. RussellR says:

    Can you then move points to AA from BAEC
    Thanks for the info.

    • No.

      You would end up, for example, booking yourself a one-way on BA using your American miles and then using Avios to book your return flight.

      • RussellR says:

        Thank you, so how do you book QR, as if you book via BA you would have to pay
        Hi fuel surcharge etc? So much to learn on the miles game.

        • American Airlines only adds fuel surcharges to BA flights. BA adds them to all airlines, when that airline would charge one for a cash ticket.

          That is why BA adds a surcharge to a Qatar redemption but AA does not.

        • RussellR says:

          With you now, thanks..

  12. Worth pointing out that US miles can be bought cheaper and they will turn into AA miles