Several frequent flyer programs allow you to purchase miles. In most cases, you can either purchase miles for yourself, or as a gift for someone else. Generally speaking, buying miles is a bad deal. For the cost of purchasing 25,000 miles, the number usually required for a domestic round-trip ticket in the U.S., you could often purchase the same ticket with cash for half that cost. Also, watch out for hidden “transaction fees” that some airlines charge in addition to the cost per mile.

Comparison of costs for purchased miles

Program Cost for 10,000 Miles Cost for 20,000 Miles Maximum Purchase
American Airlines AAdvantage $275 $550 40,000 max per year
Delta SkyMiles $350 $700 60,000 max per year
US Airways Dividend Miles $350 $700 50,000 max per transaction
United Mileage Plus $376.25 $752.50 100,000 max per year

Updated on 5/10/2012