I Just Bought $3,333 Worth Of LifeMiles

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First of all, a quick reminder that four opportunities to purchase points at a discount are ending today:

Hilton-100-Bonus

Which offer did I end up taking advantage of?

I didn’t end up buying Hilton points, since I have a decent balance of them, and don’t find the currency to offer outsized value, given that it’s the closest thing to a revenue based hotel loyalty program on the redemption side.

I also didn’t purchase IHG points, since the extent of my stays at IHG properties are my annual free night certificate that I get through the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card (which is an incredible value, but I don’t love the brand beyond that).

I also didn’t purchase Starpoints since I have a balance of 500,000+ of them, or else I might have, as it’s a great way to pick up a variety of airline mileage currencies for ~1.8 cents each.

However, I did end up buying Avianca LifeMiles. I was on the fence about it with the 125% bonus, but when I saw the increased 135% bonus, I couldn’t help but take advantage of it.

LifeMiles-Bonus-1

This first required registering through this link, and then waiting for the email from LifeMiles inviting me to buy miles with an extra 10% bonus.

In order to achieve the best cent per mile cost you have to purchase at least 101,000 miles, so that’s exactly what I did. That meant I purchased 237,350 LifeMiles at a cost of $3,333.

LifeMiles-Purchase

That’s a cost of 1.4 cents per mile. However, I purchased the miles using my Citi Prestige® Card, which offers triple points on airfare (and with LifeMiles, mileage purchases qualify as airfare). I value that return at ~5%, bringing down the cost per purchased mile to ~1.33 cents.

Why did I buy LifeMiles?

Of course I don’t like spending that much cash, especially since I already have millions of miles. That being said, in this case it seemed like the best option. This is the first time LifeMiles offered a bonus on purchased miles this year (they offered a bonus on shared miles earlier in the year, but not on purchased miles).

While I don’t like buying miles speculatively, I don’t know when LifeMiles will next offer a bonus on purchased miles, and am also not sure it will be as high as 135%.

The value of LifeMiles did increase for me significantly a while back, now that LifeMiles can once again be redeemed for Lufthansa first class, and given that they can finally be used for mixed cabin awards, meaning you can combine first class and business class on one award.

Lufthansa-First-Class-747 - 1
Lufthansa first class on the 747-8

My balance of LifeMiles was getting low, and for the past couple of LifeMiles awards I’ve booked I’ve chosen to purchase ~50% of the miles needed at the time of booking at a cost of 1.5 cents per mile. Since my balance was getting low I figured I might as well buy the full amount needed to get the lowest cost, and I’ll simply pay for the tickets entirely with miles I already had, rather than using the Miles + Money option.

Buy-LifeMiles-Booking

I’m hoping to fly some more Star Alliance premium products in the coming months, and LifeMiles continues to offer among the best value, given their lack of fuel surcharges, reasonable redemption rates, and low cost of purchased miles.

Did you purchase LifeMiles through the current promotion?

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Comments

  1. Ben, I did exactly the same transaction as you to ticket an Airchina first class award that was available (and I’ve checked through multiple *A sources and Expertflyer). However I’ve been getting this error msg when I try to ticket it, even if it appears as available in their website. I called them and I was told that somehow they didn’t renew their partnership with Airchina even within Star Alliance and they couldn’t book any of those awards. Do you have any information on that? Thanks

  2. @ Carlon — why would he want to book through LM for 87K w/o YQ if he booked through AC for 70K w/o YQ?

    @ Lucky — why is that sad?

  3. @AJK bc that would save his Amex points which are far more valuable than avianca and are harder to attain

  4. 1. the mixed cabin award is ridiculous, they put you in coach for the 14hr long haul international, while give you F for 3hr domestic & charge F miles for it.

    2. trying to book CA F (tons of space….hmmm)& bombed out, LM rep got the same & suggested me to take screen shots of itinerary & email to support. their replies:
    “Dear Mr….We share our apologies for the experience you had when redeeming your booking in our website; we have verified the itinerary you are requesting and must advise you the flights operated by Air China are currently sold out, reason why, you are receiving an error message during the ticket redemption.
    Due to the aforementioned situation, we recommend you try once more the ticket redemption in our website by searching alternate routes, dates and different airlines, which must not include Air China.”

  5. Lucky — according to http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/value-miles-points/ you value AC at 1.3 and LM at 1.4. Perhaps that valuation is outdated?

    Either way, you preferring to book using 87K LM as opposed to 70K AC, inherently means you value AC ~25% higher than LM. That’s true even though one can (i) now book LH F and (ii) mixed-cabin awards? And given the devals of AC?

  6. @ AJK — You’re absolutely right, didn’t phrase that properly. To clarify, the issue that I have virtually no Amex Membership Rewards points at the moment (while I have hundreds of thousands of Chase and Citi points), so it’s more scarcity than actual value. That’s because I’ve made several recent bookings through Aeroplan. So if I had a million of each currency I wouldn’t value Aeroplan more, but in my current situation I just have a shortage of Membership Rewards points, and it’s not like those can be inexpensively purchased.

  7. 500,000 SPG points just sittin around? That’s the biggest sign I can never be more than a one big trip/year kind of guy even though I read the blogs religiously.

  8. If you can’t book the flight on LM website forget it. The customer service line is next to worthless. I kept getting an error message for a flight, took screenshots, wrote all the details and their reply was something along the lines of “Please take screenshots and send all details of the flight you are trying to book”.

    That said, I’ve loved having lifemiles, you can screw around and find some really great routes if you get creative and don’t mind flying to certain cities to get a flight here and there.

    You’ll find yourself getting a lot of value out based on the cost of the same revenue tickets.

  9. @ Jeff — Will cover that in a separate post, was talking specifically about offers ending tomorrow. 🙂

  10. @Lucky
    Hey Lucky, I just want to share with you that I made a Amazing booking with Lifemiles a month ago.
    TPE-BKK (EVA Business) BKK-FRA (Thai First) BKK-ORD (LH First)
    All for 90000 Lifemiles! In one trip I experienced 777, A380, 747, Thai First Class Lounge with Massage, and Lufthansa First Terminal.
    I and I got THREE different Color Rimowa Case!

    This is probably the best redemption EVER!!!

  11. @Eric

    Impressive. Did you have to screenshot it to work? Doesn’t TPE-BKK-FRA cost 115K in F though?

  12. do you have any thoughts on what will happen to life miles once avianca is bought out? what if the buyer is delta? sitting on a stash of life miles …

  13. @Lucky:

    So why aren’t you sending SPG->Aeroplan/SQ/KE/whoever instead of AMEX->Aeroplan/etc., given half a million SPG and the clock going tick tick tick on the SPG-Marriott merger?

    Also, Avianca is a LOT more likely to no notice screw you on a devaluation than SPG (though I suppose never say never as far as that goes). Given that you can buy Avianca at a mild premium to this price on a as-needed basis, it is hard for me to bank a lot of miles in a program that has a history of hosing people, which is why I sat this round out.

    I have a modest sum in AV that I can go “well, fool me twice, shame on me, but oh well, I don’t feel stupid losing THAT much money” on speculative, “I’m probably going to use this in a year or two for flying”, but no more than that. Because if even Alaska is willing to screw people on wild, no notice devaluations… trust nobody.

  14. @victor:

    No kidding. My AS balance will be a whopping 232 miles, once an SPG transfer gets through and a CX J-F upgrade gets done. And I’m an elite on AS. I think if you added all my FF+Hotel accounts TOGETHER it would be somewhere in the very low 6 digits.

    I hear about 7 digit point balances in a single program and I go “nope, never gonna be there”. EK F at 400k round trip? Fuggadaboudit.

    On the other hand, they can’t devalue anything I’ve already flown and hotels I’ve already stayed at…

  15. @Victor – agreed and I’m in the same boat. Enjoyed a LH F award last summer and just returned from a CX F award. That may be it for me this year. But don’t despair, there is still plenty of value and fun to be had for us, even if in less frequent volume. With that said, I do envy Lucky’s 500,000 Starpoint balance, but I will be burning my Starpoints later this year as the transfer partners and the 5,000 transfer bonus may be lost with Marriott.

  16. My Lifemiles account got blocked yesterday after I bought Lifemiles a day before. It says I did login too many times with a wrong password and have to reestablish the password. But doing so, the problem remains. Calling them they tell you to mail, what I did, hope they will get in touch with me.soon.

  17. Hi,
    I was a little surprised to hear that you do not like the IHG group.
    Why don’t you like then?
    What hotel chain do you prefer and why?

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