Avianca’s LifeMiles program has just announced that they’ll be offering a 100% bonus on purchased miles through December 19, 2014.
Through this promotion you can purchase a maximum of 75,000 LifeMiles (plus the 100% bonus), at a cost of 1.65 cents per mile all-in. Up until recently the cost to purchase LifeMiles with a 100% bonus was 1.5 cents per mile, though as of September 30, 2014, LifeMiles raised the cost per purchased mile by 10%. So this is the first promotion under the new pricing scheme.
The promotion is only valid for those that were members of the LifeMiles program prior to November 19, 2014. You can purchase a maximum of 150,000 LifeMiles per calendar year.
To put this promotion into the context of past promotions, LifeMiles has alternated between 100% bonuses on purchased and shared miles every couple of months for a long time:
- This September there was a 100% bonus on purchased LifeMiles
- This July there was a 100% bonus on shared LifeMiles
- This May there was a 100% bonus on purchased miles
- This March there was a 100% bonus on shared LifeMiles
- Last December there was a 100% bonus on purchased LifeMiles
- Last October there was a 100% bonus on shared LifeMiles
In other words, they’ve offered a 100% bonus on purchased miles three times per year, and a 100% bonus on shared miles three times per year. The terms have always been more or less identical, though this time around the cost has gone up by 10%.
Unfortunately not only have they raised the cost of purchased miles, but LifeMiles also devalued their award chart for bookings made as of October 15, 2014. The increases are substantial, though could have been worse, in my opinion.
For more information on the LifeMiles program, check out my recent post about Avianca LifeMiles Award Chart And Redemption Basics. That post isn’t updated to reflect the new award chart, though.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, LifeMiles are simultaneously my favorite and least favorite mileage 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), even after having devalued their award chart
- 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
Still, given United’s award chart devaluation and US Airways no longer in the Star Alliance, there aren’t many ways to economically book premium cabin Star Alliance awards anymore. LifeMiles is one of the best programs for those awards, even with the higher cost to purchase miles and devalued award chart.
So while I certainly wouldn’t speculatively purchase LifeMiles, with a specific use in mind they can be a great value.
For example, LifeMiles charges 90,000 miles for first class between the US and much of Asia, so at 1.65 cents per mile, that’s like paying ~$1,500 for a one-way first class ticket between the US and Asia on ANA or Asiana.
Asiana A380 first class
ANA 777-300ER first class
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.
Are you still a buyer of LifeMiles given their increased cost of purchased miles and devalued award chart?
(Tip of the hat to @jooliang1982)