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LifeMiles just launched their latest promotion on purchased miles, valid through September 30, 2016. However, they’re offering an “early bird bonus,” valid through September 10, 2016, which is the one you should take advantage of if you’re considering buying miles. This allows you to earn up to a 130% bonus on purchased miles, rather than just a 100% bonus.
For the “early bird bonus,” LifeMiles is offering:
- 2.05x miles if you purchase 2,000-50,000 miles (additional 5% bonus)
- 2.15x miles if you purchase 51,000-100,000 miles (additional 15% bonus)
- 2.3x miles if you purchase 101,000-150,000 miles (additional 30% bonus)
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 ~1.43 cents each, when factoring in the 130% bonus. For example, you can buy a total of 345,000 miles for $4,950:
Should you buy LifeMiles?
LifeMiles is a unique currency, and nowadays is a lot better than it used to be. You can redeem the miles for one-way awards, they don’t impose fuel surcharges on any award redemptions, they have competitive redemption rates, and 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 1.5 cents per mile.
There are some things to be aware of as well, though. For example, their call center is horrible, so if something isn’t bookable on their website, don’t expect it to be bookable by phone either.
Fortunately they recently improved my two other biggest gripes with the program recently. For a long time LifeMiles was blocking Lufthansa first class award availability, which is no longer the case. However, they don’t always have access to the same space as other Star Alliance programs. Furthermore, LifeMiles didn’t used to allow you to mix cabins on an award ticket, which isn’t the case anymore either.
As far as redeeming LifeMiles go, Avianca is in the Star Alliance, so check out the Star Alliance award chart for redemption rates. To give a few examples of one way premium cabin redemption rates (along with how much it would cost you at a rate of 1.43 cents per mile):
- US to Europe in business class costs 63,000 miles (~$900)
- US to Europe in first class costs 87,000 miles (~$1,240)
- US to Southeast Asia in business class costs 78,000 miles (~$1,115)
- US to North Asia in first class costs 90,000 miles (~$1,290)
Of course everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves and decide whether this makes sense or not.
How does this compare to past promotions?
For a bit of context on how this compares to past promotions on the purchase of LifeMiles:
- This July, LifeMiles offered up to a 100% bonus when you share miles
- This May, LifeMiles offered up to a 135% bonus when you purchase miles
- This February, LifeMiles offered up to a 100% bonus when you share miles
- Last December, LifeMiles offered up to a 150% bonus when you purchase miles
- Last October, LifeMiles offered up to a 150% bonus when you purchase miles
- Last September, LifeMiles offered up to a 145% bonus when you purchase miles
- Last July, LifeMiles offered up to a 100% bonus when you share miles
- Last May, LifeMiles offered up to a 120% bonus when you purchase miles
- Last February, LifeMiles offered up to a 100% bonus when you share miles
As you can see, we’ve seen some slightly better offers in the past, though personally I’d decide on when to buy miles based on when you need them, rather than the minor difference in the cent per mile cost between some of these promotions, given the risk of hoarding miles.
Buying LifeMiles counts as an airfare purchase
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 Prestige® Card — 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent ($250 airline credit can also be used towards this purchase)
- Citi ThankYou Premier Card – 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent
- American Express Premier Rewards Gold — 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
- Chase Sapphire Preferred — 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent (or the new Sapphire Reserve offers 3x points)
Acquiring LifeMiles for ~1.43 cents each is 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 miles.
Do you plan on buying LifeMiles with up to a 130% bonus?