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 November 28, 2016. They’re marketing this as a Cyber Week bonus, and it is indeed one of the better offers they’ve had in a while.
Through this bonus you can receive a 140% bonus on purchased miles when you buy at least 5,000 miles. While we’ve seen some 140% bonuses in the past, what makes this one special is that you only need to buy 5,000 miles to take advantage of it. In the past there have been 100,000+ mile minimums to get miles at that rate, which translates to several thousand dollars out of pocket. This is the best LifeMiles promotion we’ve seen for those looking to purchase miles in smaller increments.
LifeMiles ordinarily cost 3.3 cents each to purchase, so if you take part in this promotion it’s an opportunity to buy LifeMiles ~1.375 cents each, when factoring in the 140% bonus. For example, you can buy a total of 240,000 miles for $3,300:
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 1.375 cents per mile):
- US to Europe in business class costs 63,000 miles (~$866)
- US to Europe in first class costs 87,000 miles (~$1,196)
- US to Southeast Asia in business class costs 78,000 miles (~$1,073)
- US to North Asia in first class costs 90,000 miles (~$1,238)
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 September, LifeMiles offered up to a 140% bonus when you buy miles
- 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, this is among the best offers we’ve seen on the purchase of LifeMiles, and on top of that it’s the lowest minimum I’ve ever seen needed to maximize the promotion. Often you need to buy 100,000+ miles to get the highest possible bonus, while in this case you just need to buy 5,000 miles pre-bonus to get the best rate.
So if you have a short term use in mind I’d certainly consider taking advantage of this offer.
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:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express — 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express — 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
- Citi Prestige® Card — 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent
- Citi ThankYou® Premier Card — 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — 2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
- Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card — 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
Acquiring LifeMiles for ~1.375 cents each can represent a great deal, and is among the best prices we’ve seen on the purchase of LifeMiles. On top of that, this promotion has among the lowest out of pockets.
However, I might consider holding off briefly, as in the past we’ve seen them sometimes raise the offer during the promotion period, at least on a targeted basis. If that happens I’ll certainly post about it, as it’s something to be on the lookout for.
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 140% bonus?