Buy Frequent Flyer Miles & Points
Guide to Purchasing Travel Rewards Points & Miles
You don’t actually have to fly to earn frequent flyer miles. While, it’s one of the better ways to earn miles and many airlines will require you to take a flight to start using your account, you don’t need to take a single flight to rack up points and miles. There are numerous ways in which you can earn frequent flyer miles or points without having to take to the sky. One of these ways is simply purchasing frequent flyer miles directly from the airline.
Though some view this as cheating, it’s completely legal and doesn’t violate a frequent flyer program’s terms and conditions. Additionally, you may be able to purchase points or miles without breaking the bank and still have enough to book first or business class flights. Here’s what you need to know about buying frequent flyer miles and points.
How to Buy Frequent Flyer Miles
Most major airlines allow members of their frequent flyer programs to purchase miles or points. Smaller airlines, even though they may have a frequent flyer program, typically won’t allow members to buy points or miles. Additionally, some major airlines impose restrictions on which of their members can buy miles. These restrictions may include elite status, age of an account, or minimum requirement of miles earned from flights. Still, the overwhelming majority of major airlines allow anyone to buy frequent flyer miles. Here’s a breakdown of the airlines that allow members to buy frequent flyer miles or points.
Buy Frequent Flyer Points & Miles
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Airlines That Allow Anyone to Buy Frequent Flyer Miles & Points
The following airlines allow any registered member of the airline’s loyalty program to purchase frequent flyer miles or points. All registered members are able to purchase points or miles without restrictions. However, as is the case with all airlines and travel loyalty programs, there are restrictions as to how many miles or points can be purchased in a calendar year. Be mindful when purchasing miles of an airline’s policy on the number of miles that can be purchased daily, monthly, and in a calendar year.
Airlines That Allow Members to Purchase Frequent Flyer Miles with Restrictions
The following airlines allow select registered members of the airline’s frequent flyer program to purchase frequent flyer miles. These airlines have implemented account restrictions that require members of each airline’s loyalty program to meet certain requirements. These requirements vary from account age or minimum number of points or miles in an account.
Air Canada Aeroplan
Must be ready to book a flight to purchase miles.
Airlines That Do Not Allow Members to Purchase Frequent Flyer Miles or Points
The following airlines do not allow anyone, including registered members or members with elite status, to purchase frequent flyer miles or points. The reason an airline does not offer its loyalty program members the option to buy frequent flyer miles or points varies. Some airlines wish to preserve the integrity of their frequent flyer program or simply, have not implemented the functionality allowing members to buy miles.
JAL Mileage Bank
Korean Air SKYPASS
Miles & More
South African Airways
How To Buy Frequent Flyer Points & Miles
Airlines that allow members to buy frequent flyer miles almost always have a dedicated page on their website from which you can buy, gift, or transfer frequent flyer miles. We’ve included links to those pages in the list of airlines above. When you’re ready to buy miles, simply click the link above and you’ll be redirected to the airline’s website.
Many airlines require you to login before you can view the price to purchase miles or points. If this is the case, login and you’ll be redirected back to that page after logging in. Once you’re able to see the price to purchase miles, you’ll also be able to select how many miles or points you’d like to purchase. This is also when you’ll be able to see if an airline is running a promotion that would allow you to earn additional miles. Upon selecting how many miles you’d like to purchase, you can then navigate to the payment page.
Upon providing payment information, all that’s left is for you to click “pay now”, “buy miles”, or “submit.” Once your payment and purchase request has gone through, you will receive a confirmation of your purchase on the airline’s website and/or via email.
When Can I Use The Frequent Flyer Miles or Points That I Purchased
The time it takes for miles or points purchases to be reflected in your account balance varies from one airline to the other. Some airlines process purchases instantly in which case you can use your miles or points immediately. However, some airlines won’t process purchases for up to a week.
Typically, miles that were purchased on the airline’s website will be available within 24 to 48 hours. Many airlines process miles and points purchases within an hour or so. Below, you’ll find a list of popular airlines and how long it takes for miles and points purchases to be processed.
- Air France – Flying Blue – 24 to 48 Hours Buy Flying Blue Miles
- Alaska Airlines – Mileage Plan – Instantly to 24 Hours Buy Alaska Airlines Miles
- American Airlines – AAdvantage – Instantly to 24 Hours Buy AAdvantage Miles
- Avianca – LifeMiles – Within 24 Hours Buy Avianca LifeMiles
- British Airways – Avios – Instantly to 24 Hours – Buy British Airways Avios
- Delta Air Lines – SkyMiles – Instantly to 24 Hours Buy Delta SkyMiles
- JetBlue – TrueBlue – Instantly to 24 Hours Buy TrueBlue Points
- Southwest Airlines – Rapid Rewards – Instantly to 24 Hours Buy Rapid Rewards Points
- Spirit – Free Spirit – 24 to 48 Hours Buy Free Spirit Miles
- United Airlines – MileagePlus – Instantly to 24 Hours Buy United MileagePlus Miles
- Virgin Atlantic – FlyingClub – 24 to 48 Hours Buy Flying Club Miles
Other Important Things to Remember When Buying Frequent Flyer Miles or Points
Unfortunately, you can’t buy an unlimited number of miles or points. Each airline has a cap on how many miles a member can purchase, transfer, or gift in a calendar year. Again, this is completely dependent on the airline.
Additionally, some airlines cap how many miles you can purchase in a single transaction or in a 24-hours period. However, most airlines are fairly generous when it comes to the number of points or miles a member is able to purchase in a 12-month period.
Finally, you can’t buy a single mile. Airlines require you to purchase miles or points in certain increments. These increments are typically in 1,000 mile increments. This also means you can’t purchase the exact number of miles you need for a certain flight. However, this is a fairly minor and insignificant restriction.
When Is It A Good Idea to Buy Frequent Flyer Miles or Points
Buying points or miles can be a quick and easy way to top off your frequent flyer account. However, it’s not always a great idea to buy miles or points. Just like any major currency, the value of an airline’s frequent flyer program’s currency fluctuates. These fluctuations are a result of an airline increasing or decreasing the number of miles or points required for an award flight. A second factor that results in the value of a frequent flyer program’s currency to fluctuate is the current price per mile/point when purchasing the currency outright. Here’s a quick way to estimate the true cost of purchasing frequent flyer miles or points.
When purchasing miles or points, use the following formula to find the cost per mile or point. Simply divide the total cost of the transaction by the number of points or miles you’d receive for that transaction.
For example, if I were to purchase 25,000 AAdvantage miles, those miles would cost a total of $664.35. This means that each mile costs $0.02.
The second step in determining whether or not to purchase frequent flyer miles or points is to establish the historical per-mile value of the frequent flyer program currency you are purchasing.
To do this, simply get on Google and type in “value of [insert airline or loyalty program] miles, points.” You’ll receive thousands of results from a number of blogs and publications. Next, choose five results from the first 5 pages of search results and note what each blog, publication, or website estimates the value of that frequent flyer currency to be. If you need some help selecting sources, check out The College Points’ list of top blogs in 2020. Once you have that data, average the five values you’ve found on these sites. That number is a rough approximation of the historical per-mile value of a frequent flyer’s currency. Finally, compare that value to the per-mile cost of your desired purchase. Note: When searching Google, filter results so that only results in the past year are displayed. This will allow you to filter out older results that are likely inaccurate.
This might sound like a very long and tedious process. Surprisingly, this should take about 5 minutes. The 5 minutes it takes to complete this process could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Ultimately, the question of when you should buy miles or points depends on the current per-mile cost when purchasing miles/points compared to the historical value of the airline’s frequent flyer program currency.
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