American Airlines and sneaky processing charge

While I generally like American Airlines (@AmericanAir) and have been using them for years for my overseas trips, I thought this was on the sneaky side.

I needed an extra 11,000 miles to top off my balance for a trip next month to the U.S., so I don’t want to cancel the transaction or request a refund. In other words, they have me exactly where they want me.

But I do think American Airline’s mile purchase page is rather sneaky.

First they coax me with emails about a time-limited sale. On the sale page, the price quoted for the extra miles I needed was $275.82. And when I select 11,000 miles I got a “You just saved $48!” message and feel good about that and I proceed to purchase.

Then – wham – I am slammed with two charges – a tax for $20.69 and a $30 “processing charge.” Taxes are taxes. But why the $30 processing charge? Who charges $30 to process a credit card and buy something? I think that is pretty sneaky.

I wrote to American Airlines to complain and got this non-answer answer in reply:

“Thank you for contacting Customer Relations.

I’m sorry you were disappointed to learn you were still charged the processing fee. The fee is required in order to process the transaction, meaning regardless the price to obtain those additional miles, it will still be charged.

I’m glad we could save you the $48 on the extra miles and we look forward to welcoming you aboard again soon.”
I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family, but I can’t describe how much I loathe international travel. And I wish some agency or consumer group would look into this kind of practice.