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Avianca’s LifeMiles program has just announced that they’re offering a 100% bonus on transferred miles between February 9 and February 23, 2016. Obviously this is only useful if you have an existing LifeMiles mileage balance, since you can’t transfer miles you don’t have.
LifeMiles charges 1.5 cents per transferred mile, and you can transfer up to 75,000 miles per year (before the 100% bonus). In other words, transferring 75,000 miles would cost $1,125, and you’d receive a total of 150,000 miles in the account you transfer to. At a cost of 1.5 cents per generated mile, that’s not a half bad deal.
This used to be the best method to generate LifeMiles, given that with a 100% bonus the cost to transfer miles is 1.5 cents each, while the cost to purchase miles is 1.65 cents each (the costs used to be the same, but in 2014 LifeMiles raised the cost to purchase miles by 10%). However, lately we’ve seen LifeMiles offer several bonuses on purchased miles of more than 100%, including the following:
- In December LifeMiles offered up to a 150% bonus on purchased miles, which was an opportunity to generate miles for ~1.32 cents each
- In November LifeMiles offered up to a 140% bonus on purchased miles, which was an opportunity to generate miles for ~1.375 cents each
In other words, based on the promotions we’ve seen the past months, the better option for generating LifeMiles is to outright purchase them with a bonus of more than 100%, rather than to transfer miles.
The good news is that the value of LifeMiles has been increasing lately, given that they’ve fixed what I consider to be the two biggest downsides of the LifeMiles program:
- LifeMiles can be redeemed for Lufthansa first class again (for over a year LifeMiles was blocking virtually all Lufthansa first class award space)
- LifeMiles can be redeemed for mixed cabin awards, meaning you can fly one segment in first class and another segment on the same award in business class, for example (for a long time that wasn’t possible, ridiculous as it seems)
If you do end up paying to trasfer miles, keep in mind that LifeMiles processes mileage transfers directly, meaning it would qualify as an airfare purchase. Therefore you’ll want to use a credit card like the American Express Premier Rewards Gold, Citi Prestige® Card, or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card for the purchase, since you’d earn triple points.
The value of LifeMiles has recently gone up given that they now allow redemptions for Lufthansa first class and for mixed cabin awards, which is great news. If you want to generate more LifeMiles for a specific redemption, this is a great option, though I wouldn’t take advantage of it for the purpose of speculatively buying miles, since I suspect we’ll see a better bonus on purchased miles in the future.
Do you plan on transferring LifeMiles with a 100% bonus?