Avianca’s LifeMiles program has just announced that they’ll be offering a 100% bonus on transferred miles between February 2 and February 16, 2015.
LifeMiles 100% transfer bonus cost & rules
The rules of the promotion are kind of confusing because LifeMiles doesn’t actually publish them, but:
- The terms state you can transfer at most 75,000 miles during the promotion (not including the 100% bonus), but I can’t seem to actually get the system to accept that; I’ve had no issue getting to the purchase page with a 50,000 mile transfer, though
- The cost to transfer miles is 1.5 cents per mile, which is cheaper than buying LifeMiles
Putting the promotion into context
A few more general thoughts:
- In the past, outright purchasing LifeMiles and transferring LifeMiles cost the same (1.5 cents each), but last year LifeMiles increased the cost of purchased miles, so transferring is now a better deal as a means of generating miles
- LifeMiles devalued their Star Alliance award chart last year, but despite that they still have some of the most lucrative Star Alliance redemption rates
For a bit of context on LifeMiles promotions, every couple of months they seem to alternate between a 100% bonus on purchasing miles and a 100% bonus on transferring miles:
- In December 2014 there was a 100% bonus on purchased LifeMiles
- In September 2014 there was a 100% bonus on purchased LifeMiles
- In July 2014 there was a 100% bonus on shared LifeMiles
- In May 2014 there was a 100% bonus on purchased miles
- In March 2014 there was a 100% bonus on shared LifeMiles
- In December 2013 there was a 100% bonus on purchased LifeMiles
- In October 2013 there was a 100% bonus on shared LifeMiles
Pros & cons of LifeMiles
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
- 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
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 do block some partner award space, including Lufthansa first class
Keep in mind, however, that you can purchase LifeMiles at the time of ticketing for as little as 1.5 cents each. That’s a great way to sort of hedge your bets with buying LifeMiles, since you really only need to purchase 40% of the miles you really think you’ll need.
It’s also worth noting that Avianca processes the purchase of LifeMiles directly, so it does count as airline spend for the purposes of your credit card.
Is it worth it?
I’m almost always against speculatively purchasing miles, but in this case I’m sort of for it, assuming you have an existing mileage balance to work with (obviously you can’t transfer any LifeMiles if you don’t have any to begin with).
Why do I think it’s sort of worthwhile?
- Because nowadays the cost of transferring LifeMiles (~1.5 cents each) is cheaper than the cost of purchasing LifeMiles (~1.65 cents each)
- For the airlines they can book, LifeMiles really offers among the most compelling premium cabin Star Alliance redemption rates, despite their devaluation last year
- I think LifeMiles learned from back in the day when they’d devalue their award chart without notice; they provided advance notice with the last round of changes, so I trust them more than in the past
If you’re into Star Alliance premium cabin award redemptions and have an existing LifeMiles balance, I do think this promotion is seriously worth considering.