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There are often hundreds of ways to earn airline miles or points. From lucrative credit card sign-up bonuses to airline shopping portals, these are just some of the ways you can earn miles. However, you might find yourself only a few thousand miles short of your dream award redemption. In addition to credit cards and shopping portals, many airlines also allow you to purchase miles or points outright.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler looking to top up your account for a dream trip or a novice eager to unlock the benefits of frequent flyer programs, buying airline miles or points can be a good move. In many cases though, buying miles is not a great idea.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about buying airline miles and points—from understanding the best times to buy to avoiding common pitfalls.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the various reasons you might consider buying miles, such as taking advantage of limited-time promotions or snagging that elusive award seat. We’ll also cover the critical factors to consider before making a purchase, like the cost per mile.

Here’s what you need to know before buying airline miles or points.

An image of an airplane wing on the left accompanied by text on the right that reads "What you should know about buying airline miles and points."

Here’s what you need to know before you buy airline miles.

Which Airlines Let You Buy Miles and Points?

When you consider that there are over 5,000 airlines registered with ICAO, the international governing body for air transportation, the number of airlines that allow you to buy miles is actually quite small.

Many of the airlines that don’t allow members to purchase miles are on the small side with loyalty programs that are quite limited in scope. There are some major players that don’t let members purchase points or miles. For example, neither Japan Airlines nor ITA Airways allow members to buy miles or points.

Luckily, Japan Airlines and ITA are outliers with most major carriers allowing members to top off their frequent flyer accounts. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of the airlines that let you buy miles and points.

AirlineProgramConditionsLink to Portal
Aegean AirlinesMiles+BonusPurchase Award Miles or Tier Miles. Award miles purchased in increments of 1,000 up to 30,000 miles a year. Tier miles purchased in increments of 500.Buy Aegean Award Miles or Tier Miles
Aer LingusAerClub (Avios)Purchase Avios in increments of 1,000. Minimum 2,000 Avios. Maximum 200,000 Avios a year.Buy Aer Lingus Avios
Air CanadaAeroplanPurchase Aeroplan points in increments of 1,000. Up to 500,000 points can be purchased in a calendar year.Buy Air Canada Aeroplan Points
Air EuropaSUMAPurchase Suma miles in increments of 1,000. Purchase up to 100,000 miles in a calendar year.Buy Air Europa Miles
Air FranceFlying BlueBuy Air France Flying Blue miles in increments of 2,000. Purchase up to 100,000 miles in a calendar year not including any promotional bonus.Buy Air France Flying Blue Miles
Air IndiaFlying ReturnsPurchase Flying Returns points in increments of 100.Buy Air India Points
Air New ZealandAirpointsAvailable to Air New Zealand Airpoints credit card holders in New Zealand
Air SerbiaEtihad GuestBuy Etihad Guest Miles in increments of 1,000. Purchase up to 100,000 miles in a calendar year or 150,000 miles if you are a Platinum member.Buy Etihad Guest Miles
Alaska AirlinesMileage PlanBuy Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles in increments of 1,000. Purchase up to 1,000 miles per transaction. Members without status can purchase up to 150,000 miles in a calendar year. Members with elite status have no limit on the number of miles that can be purchased.Buy Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles
American AirlinesAAdvantageBuy AAdvantage miles starting at 2,000 miles. Miles can be purchased in 1,000 mile increments. Up to 150,000 miles can be purchased in a calendar year not including promotional bonuses.Buy American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
Austrian Miles & MoreMiles can be purchased through Bundle&Go program.Buy Miles & More Miles
Azul Brazilian AirlinesTudoAzulBuy TudoAzul points in increments of 1,000. Purchase up to 100,000 points in a 12 month period.Buy Azul TudoAzul Points
British AirwaysExecutive Club (Avios)Buy British Airways Avios starting at 2,000 Avios. Must have at least 1 Avios in your account to purchase Avios. Buy up to 200,000 Avios in a calendar year.Buy British Airways Avios
Brussels AirlinesMiles & MoreMiles can be purchased through Bundle&Go program.Buy Miles & More Miles
Cathay PacificAsia MilesMembers must have 70% of the miles they wish to purchase. Miles can be purchased in increments of 2,000.Buy Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Copa AirlinesConnectMilesBuy ConnectMiles in increments of 1,000 miles. Purchase up 2,000,000 miles in a calendar year.Buy Copa Airlines Miles
Croatia AirlinesMiles & MoreMiles can be purchased through Bundle&Go program.Buy Miles & More Miles
Czech AirlinesFlying BlueBuy Flying Blue miles in increments of 2,000. Purchase up to 100,000 miles in a calendar year not including any promotional bonus.Buy Flying Blue Miles
Delta Air LinesSkyMilesBuy Delta SkyMiles starting at 2,000 miles. Buy SkyMiles in increments of 2,000 up to 60,000 miles in a calendar year.Buy Delta SkyMiles
EgyptairEgyptair PlusBuy Egyptair Plus miles in increments of 1,000. Up to 20,000 miles can be purchased in a calendar year.Learn More
EmiratesSkywardsBuy Emirates Skywards miles in increments of 1,000. Maximum miles that can be purchased in a calendar year varies depending on status tier.Buy Emirates Skywards Miles
Ethiopian AirlinesShebaMilesBuy ShebaMiles or Status Miles. Portal currently unavailable
Etihad AirwaysEtihad GuestBuy Etihad Guest Miles in increments of 1,000. Purchase up to 100,000 miles in a calendar year or 150,000 miles if you are a Platinum member.Buy Etihad Guest Miles
EVA AirInfinity MileageLandsBuy EVA Air miles in increments of 1,000. Purchase up to 150,000 miles in a calendar year.Buy EVA Air Miles
FinnairFinnair Plus (Avios)Buy Avios in increments of 1,000 points. Purchase up to 200,000 Avios in a calendar year.Buy Finnair Avios
flydubaiSkywardsBuy Emirates Skywards miles in increments of 1,000. Maximum miles that can be purchased in a calendar year varies depending on status tier.Buy Emirates Skywards Miles
FrontierFrontier MilesBuy Frontier Miles in increments of 1,000. Up to 30,000 miles can be purchased in a single transaction.Buy Frontier Miles
Garuda IndonesiaGaruda MilesBuy Garuda Miles in increments of 1,000. Purchase up to 100,000 miles in a calendar year.Open Purchase Form to Buy Miles
GOLSmilesBuy Smiles Miles in increments of 1,000. Purchase up to 100,000 miles in a calendar year.Buy GOL Smiles Miles
Hawaiian AirlinesHawaiianMilesBuy HawaiianMiles in increments of 500 up to 30,000 miles per transaction. Maximum 3 transactions per week.View Details, Must Call Service Center
IberiaIberiaPlus (Avios)Buy Iberia Avios starting at 2,000 Avios. Must have at least 1 Avios in your account to purchase Avios. Buy up to 200,000 Avios in a calendar year.Buy Iberia Avios
JetBlueTrueBlueBuy JetBlue TrueBlue points in increments of 1,000 points up to 150,000 points per transaction. Up to 200,000 points can be purchased in a calendar year.Buy JetBlue TrueBlue Points
KLMFlying BlueBuy KLM Flying Blue miles in increments of 2,000. Purchase up to 100,000 miles in a calendar year not including any promotional bonus.Buy KLM Flying Blue Miles
LATAMLATAM PassBuy LATAM Pass Miles increments of 1,000 up to 250,000 miles.Buy LATAM Pass Miles
LOT Polish AirlinesMiles & MoreMiles can be purchased through Bundle&Go program.Buy Miles & More Miles
LufthansaMiles & MoreMiles can be purchased through Bundle&Go program.Buy Miles & More Miles
QantasQantas Frequent FlyerBuy Qantas Frequent Flyer points in increments of 1,000 up to 150,000 in a single transaction. Purchase points up to 4 times in a 12 month period.Buy Qantas Frequent Flyer Points
Qatar AirwaysPrivilege Club (Avios)Buy Qatar Avios starting at 1,000 Avios. Must have at least 1,000 Avios in your account to purchase Avios. Buy up to 250,000 Avios in a calendar year.Buy Qatar Airways Avios
SASEuroBonusPurchase EuroBonus Points in increments of 1,000.Buy SAS EuroBonus Points
Southwest AirlinesRapid RewardsBuy Southwest Rapid Rewards points in 1,000 point increments with a minimum of 2,000 points. Up to 60,0000 points a day can be purchased with no annual maximum.Buy Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Points
SpiritFree SpiritBuy Free Spirit points in increments of 1,000.Buy Free Spirit Points
SWISSMiles & MoreMiles can be purchased through Bundle&Go program.Buy Miles & More Miles
TAP PortugalMiles & GoBuy TAP Portugal Miles & Go Miles in increments of 2,000 up to 20,000 miles per transaction not including promotional bonuses. Members can purchase up to 200,000 miles in a calendar year.Buy TAP Portugal Miles
Turkish AirlinesMiles & SmilesBuy Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles miles in increments of 1,000. Purchase up to 99,999 miles in a single transaction and calendar year.Buy Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
United AirlinesMileagePlusBuy United MileagePlus Miles starting at 2,000 miles. Purchase miles in increments of 1,000 up to 200,000 per transaction and calendar year.Buy United Airlines MileagePlus Miles
Virgin AtlanticFlying ClubBuy Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Points in increments of 1,000. Purchase up to 200,000 points not including promotional bonuses per transaction and calendar year.Buy Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Points
Virgin AustraliaVelocityBuy Velocity points in increments of 1,000 up to 250,000 points.Buy Virgin Australia Velocity Points

In addition to buying points or miles outright, some airlines allow members to buy miles when booking an award ticket. These airlines are not included in this list as you aren’t really buying points. You’re buying the difference between the cost of an award ticket and the number of miles in your account.

Related: Which Hotels Let You Buy Points?

Why Would You Buy Airlines Miles or Points?

There are a number of reasons why you might buy miles or points. One of the most common reasons a frequent flyer might decide to buy miles is to top off their account to book an award ticket that requires slightly more miles than they have in their account.

In some cases, an award might yield enough value to a traveler that buying miles outright makes more sense than accumulating them from flights or credit cards but this is rarely the case.

More seasoned frequent flyers often wait for promotions to load up on points or miles. Occasionally, airlines offer bonuses that allow members to buy points or miles with a 50, 75, 100, or even 200% bonus.

That leads us to the question of when you should buy airline miles or points.

When Should You Buy Airline Miles?

The short answer is, it depends on the specific situation. If you’re only a few thousand miles away from your dream award flight, it might make sense to top off your account. On the other hand, if you’re still 50% of the way from a rather pricey award flight, it probably doesn’t make sense to spend hundreds if not thousands to buy points or miles.

Ultimately, the best time to buy airline miles or points is during promotional periods. As mentioned, during these promos, you might be able to purchase miles with a 100% bonus. A more common promotion offers members bonuses of around 50 to 75%. Below is a list of some of the current promotions with bonuses on miles or points purchases:

Current Promotions on Buying Miles or Points

ProgramPromotionEnd DateLink to Promotion
Air France/KLM Flying BlueEarn up to 70% Bonus Flying Blue MilesJune 10, 2024Buy Air France/KLM Flying Blue Miles
Air Canada AeroplanEarn up to 85% Bonus Aeroplan PointsJune 21, 2024Buy Aeroplan Points
American Airlines AAdvantageUp to 35% Off Regular Purchase PriceNot SpecifiedBuy AAdvantage Miles
Copa ConnectMilesUp to 40% Off Regular Purchase PriceJune 26, 2024Buy Copa Miles
JetBlue TrueBlueEarn up to 75% Bonus TrueBlue PointsJune 28, 2024Buy JetBlue TrueBlue Points
A seat in Lufthansa First Class

Buy both Avianca LifeMiles and United MileagePlus miles with a bonus. Both LifeMiles and MileagePlus miles can be redeemed for Lufthansa First Class. (Image by Max Prosperi / TravelUpdate)

How Do I Know If Buying Miles Is a Good Deal?

Generally speaking, it’s not usually a good idea to buy airline miles or points. In some cases, like during promotions, you might be able to get significant value when buying miles. However, when an airline is not offering a bonus or promotion, buying miles or points usually comes at a cost. That is, airlines usually sell their frequent flyer miles at a mark-up.

The easiest way to determine whether or not buying miles makes sense is to look at the cost per mile or point.

For example, LifeMiles recently ran a promotion in which miles were available to purchase with a 150% bonus (or even a 160% bonus). To get the 150% bonus, you needed to purchase a minimum of 21,000 LifeMiles.

Let’s say I decided to purchase 200,000 LifeMiles. I will earn 200,000 plus an additional 300,000 bonus miles. The total cost for all 500,000 miles would be $6,600.

To find the cost per mile, simply divide 6,600 by 500,000. You will get 0.0132 which translates to 1.32 cents per mile. So, what does this mean?

The second step in determining whether or not this would be a smart purchase is to find the average value travelers get through the LifeMiles program. For this step, I recommend checking out AwardWallet’s latest valuations. AwardWallet’s points and miles valuations are based on actual award travel bookings from AwardWallet members.

According to AwardWallet, the current value of LifeMiles is 2.91 cents per mile. In this case, it might not be a bad idea to take advantage of this promotion as the average value is more than what you’d be paying on a per-mile basis.

Now, let’s take a look at a situation in which you would not want to buy miles.

In this example, let’s say you want to buy 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Currently, American Airlines is running a promotion on the purchase of AAdvantage miles. Buying 25,000 miles will get you 15% of the typical cost. In this case, 25,000 AAdvantage miles cost $799.54 (usually $899.47).

This means that each mile purchased costs 3.11 cents per mile. Now, compare that to the estimated value of an AAdvantage mile which is currently around 1.7 cents. In this example, you would be paying 1.41 cents more per mile. So, it’s not a good idea to buy AAdvantage miles despite getting 15% off.

American Airlines A321T First Class seat

Just because you can buy AAdvantage miles doesn’t mean you should. (Image by Max Prosperi / TravelUpdate)

Double Dipping on Points and Miles Purchases

In some cases, you can double dip when you buy airline miles or points. Some credit cards, especially co-branded credit cards issued by airlines, allow you to earn bonus miles when making purchases with an airline. Even if you don’t have a co-branded card issued by an airline, you can still earn some additional points or miles just by using your everyday credit card.

Here is an example of how you can double dip when buying AAdvantage miles:

Earn 4x AAdvantage Miles When You Buy Miles:

  • Use your Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® and earn 4x AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Buy 100,000 AAdvantage miles for $3,010 and earn 12,040 AAdvantage miles

Examples in Which Double Dipping Doesn’t Work

Unfortunately, many airlines sell their miles or points through a third-party platform. This is the case for Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. So, even if you were to use a co-branded credit card issued by one of those airlines, the purchase of points or miles wouldn’t register as a purchase made with the airline.

Instead, this purchase would register as a purchase made with Points.com. Therefore, you would earn the standard 1x point or mile per dollar spent.

It’s important to consult the fine print of your travel rewards credit card before assuming you’ll earn bonus points when you buy airline miles. Travel rewards credit cards including the Chase Sapphire Reserve don’t consider buying points or miles to be eligible for travel-related transactions.

The Bottom Line

Buying miles or points can be quite enticing. If you’re only a few miles shy of your dream award redemption, purchasing miles may be a quick way to get you there. It’s important to keep in mind that buying miles is usually not cost-effective unless you’re taking advantage of a lucrative bonus.

Knowing whether or not it’s a good idea to buy miles or points comes down to understanding the value of the miles you’re buying. In many cases when buying miles, you will find that the cost per mile is extremely inflated compared to the actual value.

While buying airline miles or points can occasionally offer solid value, it’s crucial to do your homework before making any big purchases.

Do you buy miles or points? What’s the most value you have received when buying miles?


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