Avianca LifeMiles 100% Bonus On Miles Transfers

Avianca’s LifeMiles program has just announced that they’ll be offering a 100% bonus on transferred miles through March 17, 2014.

Lifemiles-Bonus-2014

Through this promotion you can transfer between 1,000 and 50,000 miles at a cost of 1.5 cents each. You can transfer no more than 50,000 miles between accounts per year, so keep that in mind if taking advantage of this promotion.

That means, for example, if you transfer 25,000 miles it will cost you $375, and you’ll receive 50,000 miles in the recipient’s LifeMiles account.

Lifemiles-Bonus-2014-1

Avianca also occasionally offers a 100% bonus on purchased miles, and when they do it’s at the same rate of 1.5 cents per mile. So this is about as cheap as “generating” Avianca miles gets. To put this offer into perspective, the last time LifeMiles offered a 100% bonus on purchased miles was December, and the last time LifeMiles offered a 100% bonus on transferred miles was October.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, LifeMiles are simultaneously my favorite and least favorite points currency. The things I love about LifeMiles include:

  • They allow one-way awards at half the cost of a roundtrip
  • They don’t impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions
  • They have competitive redemption rates (you can find their Star Alliance award chart here)
  • They don’t block any partner award space, unlike US Airways
  • As long as you have 40% of the miles needed for a redemption, you can purchase the remaining miles at the time you issue your ticket for as little as 1.56 cents per mile

And then there are things I hate with a passion about LifeMiles:

  • Their call center is horrible, so if your redemption requires servicing over the phone, you might as well forget about it
  • They don’t allow mixed cabin awards, meaning if you book a business class award all segments have to be in business class
  • They have a history of devaluing their program without notice, as I posted about here and here, so I’d only recommend buying miles with a short term use in mind

Anyway, there’s no bonus on the purchase of miles this month, so in order to take advantage of this promotion you need to have an existing mileage balance, for all practical purposes (buying LifeMiles at their normal rate of three cents each for the purposes of transferring them kind of negates the value of this offer).

Lastly, it’s worth noting that Avianca processes the purchase of LifeMiles directly, so it does count as airline spend for the purposes of your credit card. Keep in mind it’s a foreign carrier, though, so you’ll want to use a card without foreign transaction fees. I plan on taking advantage of this promotion and will be using my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (affiliate link), since I earn 2.14 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent with no foreign transaction fees.

Now I do have one question for the LifeMiles experts — anyone have experience transferring 25,000 LifeMiles from one account to another (meaning you receive 50,000 LifeMiles in the recipient’s account), and then transferring 50,000 LifeMiles back to the original account, for a total of 100,000 LifeMiles?

Comments

  1. Hi Lucky,

    An off topic question, does OS release more J seats after the one that was available was booked?

  2. Can I open a new account for my wife and do a transfer from my existing lifemiles account? Or is there a rule about a new account having to be open for a minimum amount of time first?

  3. @ Tom — Avianca sucks at publishing T&Cs for their promotions, but historically accounts open after the promotion begins don’t qualify, so I’d count on that being the case.

  4. @tom @lucky actually i just did that – opened an account, transferred 1000 miles to see if the bonus applied (it did!) and then Playing ping pong all the way 🙂

  5. I can also confirm that you can do account transfer back and forth. (A)25–>50(b), (b)50-100(a) B can transfer back to person A.

    A couple of other things I dislike about Lifemiles.

    a) Credit card – certain browsers and certain credit cards sometimes make the website error out. When this happens, the award inventory is taken away (temporarily) and you don’t have a ticket. Often this requires waiting 24 hours and the award inventory is returned or a call to the call center. I believe when I book with my Visa credit card, and use Internet Explorer it works perfectly. Amex and I think Firefox is a different story. (Maybe this has been fixed, but I haven’t risked it for a while now)

    Second negative issue is that awards cannot have a connection greater then 12 hours. I also think it might have problems where a connection is after midnight the day you land too, but not sure.

  6. I did this transferring 25k to my husband, who transferred them back to me for a total of 100k miles. When I went to book my award (total pricek 105k miles) they wanted to charged me $150 for the remaining 5k miles, did they get rid of the perk of being able to buy the remaining miles for 1.5 cents each?

  7. @ Larry — There’s a sliding scale for the cost of “topping up” accounts. The more miles you buy at the time you book your ticket, the lower your cent per mile ratio. For just a few thousand miles it’s rather expensive, as you note.

  8. Thanks Lucky! Didn’t realize it. I was able to avoid the hefty miles purchases by doing another small transfer back and forth. Total cost $1425 inc taxes and fees for 2 LH biz tickets CPH-FRA-IAD.

  9. Ben, quick help. I’m trying to look for flights from lax/sfo-gum. It keeps saying it’s ‘sold out’ just using the normal search function. Do you use multi city? Or do you even get to find any searches with this routing?

  10. @ wayne — LifeMiles has gotten more restrictive with routings to Guam, so it might be that what you’re looking at is no longer available. If it is possible it should automatically show up. Only other option is to call.

  11. I’m so bummed I missed this transfer thing and I REALLY appreciate the “ping-pong” tip. Smarty pants, y’all :-). FYI, Avianca currently has the 100% bonus May 5-30, 2014. AND know that the 100% bonus in either transferred and/or purchased miles caps at 75,000 miles for a calendar year.

    By the way, I need to correct you in that booking flights in different cabins, is possible. I have booked flights a couple times with 1 segment in Economy and one in Business! Really worth it especially if you must fly on one specific day and only Business class is available (and also if you feel like treating yourself)

    One thing I must mention about the life miles is that it is super bizarre. I have had this experience two times. When booking for a specific day, Day 1 I login and search for the date I wanna fly and there are not seats available at all. So I end up booking the day after the one I originally wanted. I login Day 2 to make a 2nd reservation for another person and it turns out that there ARE seats available the day I originally wanted! That was frustrating to say the least. As I said that happened twice. First time, they told me to make a whole new reservation for the “original date” (which meant take once again miles for yet another 3rd reservation) and they said they would refund the miles taken from the first reservation. I did because A) I had extra miles and B) cos I REALLY needed to flight on the original date. I had to call 4 times to get the miles from reservation 1. Finally got them. A second time I had the same the problem: Day 1 had not seats for the flying date needed and Day 2 did. This time they said they couldn’t do anything. So yes, be ready for complicated procedure.

  12. Lifemiler,

    What exact route or routes did you fly when you were able to combine eco and business? Do you think it is possible that the leg you flew eco on actually had no business seats on the plane period? That just may work differently than cases in which business seats exist, but are no longer available for award bookings. I have done countless searches all over the globe and have never seen one single instance of Lifemiles showing availability for a mixed itinerary that was available on United at the same time, in cases in which the mixed itinerary was due to the business seats for awards merely being booked up.

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