Great Deal: Buy Avianca LifeMiles With A 130% Bonus

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out my advertiser policy for further details about our partners, including American Express, Chase, and Citi, and thanks for your support!

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.

LifeMiles-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-Bonus-1

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:

LifeMiles-Bonus-2

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.

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

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)

With a specific use in mind, this promotion can be an incredible value, especially for first class travel on ANAAsiana, and Lufthansa.

Asiana-A380-First-Class-001
Asiana A380 first class

ANA-first-class-1
ANA 777-300ER first class

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:

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:

Bottom line

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?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »

Regarding Comments: Neither this post, nor the comments, are provided by the Issuing bank, or any other advertiser. The comments on this page are not endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not the bank or advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. @Lucky – I have a question unrelated to this article but related to your blog. I am a blogger on luxury private travel myself and while I see a readership increase of between 15-20% monthly, I want to find my true readership. In other words, how do you weed out individuals who may be using multiple pseudonyms and/or emails that could be affecting your readership values?

  2. You have mentioned before that the Avianca call center is bad — is it possible to change Avianca awards online, given how often *A award space improves close to departure? Or do you need to try to work with the call center at that point?

  3. @Bgriff

    Nope. Have to change it over the phone. The process is comically bad. I’ve done it twice. It’s taken hours both times.

  4. I remember the days when ~$1k each way in business class to Europe using miles was a good rate. Given how much J fares have come down in recent years, I no longer see that as a good value when you can regularly find paid rates to europe for less than $2k roundtrip and earn miles for those flights and not have to deal with finding non existent award availability.

  5. @Luis

    I mostly agree that it’s better to just wait for a sale on paid tickets in J to Europe. There are a few exceptions like J on Austrian (is seat availability still wide open?) or Swiss and of course, F on Lufthansa! Asia and South Pacific in J (or F) however, are still really good uses of points – ANA, Asiana and Thai all being generous with seat availability.

  6. @Ted – ANA recently had wide open availability for non stop LAX-NRT in J for ~$2200 rt. Not sure if that fare is still around. Much better deal than buying miles.

  7. Tiffany, between United and Avianca, which miles are more valuable? Is buying UA miles at 2 cents better than buying Avianca at 1.45 cents?

  8. i only booked once on avianca and had a pleasant experience. couldn’t book online, took a screen shot of the error message, called customer service, they asked me to email the screenshot, and then they called me back (overseas) with my confirmation number. all these comments about poor customer service are making me nervous about buying more miles, but the price is tempting for SE asia to US redemptions … very few deals to be had in J and F if you want to avoid chinese/malaysian airlines

  9. They were very useful in traveling around inside Europe for low miles. However I have never tried the trains. How do they compare for price, comfort and efficiency?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *