The Avianca LifeMiles program has just launched its latest promotion on purchased miles, and it potentially represents a great deal.
Through Tuesday, November 16, 2021, the Avianca LifeMiles program is offering up to a 155% bonus on purchased miles. There’s a tiered bonus, and you get a bigger bonus the more miles you buy, as follows:
- Buy 1,000-20,000 miles, get a 140% bonus
- Buy 21,000-50,000 miles, get a 150% bonus
- Buy 51,000-200,000 miles, get a 155% bonus
How much does it cost to buy LifeMiles?
Ordinarily you can buy Avianca LifeMiles for 3.3 cents each, before any discounts or bonuses. That means that if you purchased 200,000 LifeMiles with this offer pre-bonus, you’d receive a total of 510,000 LifeMiles at a cost of $6,600, which is a rate of 1.29 cents per mile.
How many LifeMiles can you buy?
LifeMiles lets members purchase up to 200,000 miles per account per calendar year, before factoring in any bonuses.
Which credit card should you buy LifeMiles with?
LifeMiles processes mileage purchases directly, meaning that buying miles with the program qualifies as airfare spending. Therefore you’ll want to consider using one of the following cards for your purchase, since they offer the following bonus points for airline spending:
If you pay with The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) then you earn 5x points. I value those points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, that’s the equivalent of a further 8.5% return. That means that the real cost of each mile goes down from 1.29 cents to 1.18 cents, which is an even better value (this isn’t cash in your pocket, but rather points in your “pocket” based on my valuation).
Is buying LifeMiles worth it?
For context, Avianca is in the Star Alliance, which means you can redeem LifeMiles on all Star Alliance airlines without any fuel surcharges. Really this is the core value proposition of buying LifeMiles, since this is a great way to book Star Alliance premium cabin seats at a huge discount. To give some examples of one-way award redemption rates with LifeMiles:
- US to Europe in business class costs 63,000 miles
- US to Europe in first class costs 87,000 miles
- US to Southeast Asia in business class costs 78,000 miles
- US to North Asia in first class costs 90,000 miles
Sometimes LifeMiles has promotions where redemption rates are even better than that. Check out my guide on how to redeem LifeMiles for more ideas.
With a specific use in mind, this LifeMiles promotion can be a great value, whether you’re looking at traveling first class on All Nippon Airways or Lufthansa, or are looking at traveling in business class on a countless number of airlines.
Everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves and decide whether this makes sense or not.
Do note that in some cases LifeMiles doesn’t have access to the same award availability as Star Alliance partners, for better or worse. Sometimes LifeMiles doesn’t have access to partner awards that other programs do have access to, and other times the inverse is true.
That’s why I always recommend doing some “dummy” award searches before buying miles, so you can get a sense of how award availability lines up with your needs.
How much are LifeMiles worth?
Everyone will value mileage currencies differently, but personally I value LifeMiles at ~1.4 cents each. That’s based on the redemption values on Star Alliance partners, as there’s tons of value to be had. I tend to value miles very conservatively, so if you’re maximizing miles you should be able to get way more value than that.
Do LifeMiles expire?
LifeMiles don’t expire as long as you accrue some miles at least once every 12 months. Any mileage earning activity, including buying miles, will extend the expiration of your miles. However, redeeming miles as such doesn’t extend the expiration of your miles.
How else can you earn LifeMiles?
If you’re looking to earn LifeMiles, the good news is that there are lots of options beyond outright buying them. Specifically, Avianca LifeMiles is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Citi ThankYou, so there are lots of ways to pick up these miles.
Isn’t Avianca in Chapter 11?
In May 2020, Avianca filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, so what does that mean for LifeMiles? It’s worth noting that the LifeMiles frequent flyer program is a separate company (even though the program is majority owned by the airline), and LifeMiles isn’t part of the bankruptcy proceedings.
I’ve written in the past about what happens to airline miles if an airline goes bankrupt, so as it applies here:
- For now it should be business as usual for earning and redeeming LifeMiles
- In the event that Avianca didn’t emerge from bankruptcy, it’s possible that the LifeMiles program would still live on in Latin America, given how popular it is, and given that it’s spun off
- However, if that were to happen, don’t expect that LifeMiles would still have access to Star Alliance award space, since the program would no longer be associated with a Star Alliance airline
More specific to Avianca’s situation, the airline has received a loan worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and is in the process of exiting bankruptcy protection. So personally I don’t see there being much risk here, especially when you consider that global travel is recovering rapidly, and I hope the darkest days are behind us. Of course things can always change, but that’s where things stand as of now.
Obviously there’s some risk here with buying miles, as there always is, especially with no immediate use in mind.
LifeMiles has just launched its latest promotion on purchased miles. With this, the program is offering up to a 155% bonus, which is an opportunity to buy miles for as little as 1.29 cents each. Acquiring LifeMiles for 1.29 cents each is potentially a great deal, especially when you factor in the credit card rewards, which could lower the real cost even further.
My general take is that I wouldn’t buy miles unless you have a use for them in the next several months. That being said, if you do have a use for them, this is a great deal. Travel is making a comeback, and opportunities like these are worth considering. Everyone will have to decide for themselves. There’s risk, miles can always devalue, etc., but this is a solid deal.
Do you plan on buying LifeMiles with a 155% bonus?