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Avianca’s LifeMiles program is back with their latest bonus on purchased miles, which is valid through December 18, 2015.
LifeMiles is offering:
- 2x miles if you purchase 2,000-40,000 miles
- 2.15x miles if you purchase 41,000-100,000 miles (additional 15% bonus)
- 2.25x miles if you purchase 101,000-150,000 miles (additional 25% bonus)
Furthermore, for this promotion they’ve increased the purchase limit to 375,000 LifeMiles.
LifeMiles ordinarily cost 3.3 cents each to purchase, so if you purchase at least 101,000 miles during this promotion (pre-bonus) you can buy LifeMiles ~1.47 cents each, when factoring in the 125% bonus.
For a bit of context on how this compares to past promotions on the purchase of LifeMiles:
- In October, LifeMiles offered up to a 150% bonus when you purchase miles
- In September, LifeMiles offered up to a 145% bonus when you purchase miles
- In July, LifeMiles offered up to a 100% bonus when you share miles
- In May, LifeMiles offered up to a 120% bonus when you purchase miles
- In February, LifeMiles offered up to a 100% bonus when you share miles
It’s interesting, because for a couple of years LifeMiles almost exclusively “only” offered a 100% bonus on purchased and shared LifeMiles. Then in September 2014 they raised the cost of purchased LifeMiles by 10%, and ever since they’ve been consistently offering even bigger bonuses on the purchase of miles.
And I think with just about any devaluation that reflects the direction the industry is headed. Airlines devalue and increase the cost of rewards, but they also increase your purchasing power, so we’re not really much worse off. At least that’s true for areas in which the programs can monetize (in other words, not really when it comes to issuing miles for flying, for example).
As you can see above, this promotion is pretty “average” as far as recent LifeMiles bonuses go. I’d be deciding which promotion to take advantage of based on when you’ll actually be able to redeem the miles, as opposed to when they’re marginally less expensive to purchase.
Should you buy LifeMiles?
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)
- 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 block quite a bit of Star Alliance award space, including Lufthansa first class space
Still, given United’s early 2014 award chart devaluation and US Airways no longer being in the Star Alliance (or existing at all, for that matter) 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.
With a specific use in mind, this promotion can be an incredible value.
For example, LifeMiles charges 90,000 miles for first class between the US and much of Asia, so at 1.47 cents per mile, that’s like paying ~$1,320 for a one-way first class ticket between the US and Asia on ANA or Asiana.
Of course everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves and decide whether this makes sense or not.
Buying LifeMiles counts as an airfare purchase
It’s worth noting that LifeMiles processes mileage purchases directly, meaning that buying miles with them qualifies as airfare spend. Therefore you’ll want to consider using one of the following cards for your purchase, since they offer the following bonus miles for airfare spend:
- Citi ThankYou® Premier Card – 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent
- Citi Prestige® Card — 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent ($250 airline credit can also be used towards this purchase)
- American Express Premier Rewards Gold — 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
- Chase Sapphire Preferred — 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
Ultimately acquiring LifeMiles for ~1.47 cents each is quite a good deal. I suppose the catch is the quantity you have to buy to get that price, as $3,300+ isn’t an insignificant amount to spend on miles.
As I always say, everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves as to whether or not this makes sense. There are great values to be had, though I also wouldn’t be hoarding points.
Do you plan on buying LifeMiles with up to a 125% bonus?