Lifemiles 100% Bonus On Purchased Miles Returns

It’s quickly shaking up to be an exciting December on the mileage sale front. Yesterday US Airways announced a 100% bonus on shared miles through December 6, 2013, which is possibly the most lucrative promotion in the industry for generating miles.

AviancaTaca is getting in on the fun with their Lifemiles program, and offering a 100% bonus on purchased miles through December 30, 2013. Through this promotion you can purchase a maximum of 75,000 Lifemiles (plus the 100% bonus), at a cost of 1.5 cents per mile all-in. The promotion is also only valid for those that were members of the Lifemiles program prior to December 3, 2013.


As I’ve written about in the past, there are some things that are awesome about Lifemiles and some things that suck about them. The things I love about Lifemiles include:

  • They allow one-way awards at half the cost of a roundtrip
  • They don’t impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions
  • They have competitive redemption rates (you can find their Star Alliance award chart here)
  • They don’t block any partner award space, unlike US Airways
  • 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 1.56 cents per mile

And then there are things I hate with a passion about Lifemiles:

  • Their call center is HORRIBLE, so if your redemption requires servicing over the phone, you might as well forget about it
  • They don’t allow mixed cabin awards, meaning if you book a business class award all segments have to be in business class
  • They have a history of devaluing their program without notice, as I posted about here and here, so I’d only recommend buying miles with a short term use in mind

Also, for what it’s worth, Lifemiles processes points purchases directly, which means for the purposes of credit card spend this should qualify as airline spend.

Bottom line

There are many great redemption opportunities on the Lifemiles award chart, assuming you can deal with their ridiculous routing and mixed cabin rules. While I wouldn’t purchase miles entirely speculatively, this is a program that’s tough to beat for one-way premium cabin Star Alliance award redemptions.


  1. Seems the last time they had similar promo, they promptly devalued a short time later…deja vu all over again?

  2. their call center has been very good for many of us. this is overblown to say they are horrible. i’ve had shorter waits with them often than with UA or DL.

  3. Just a note–if you pay for an award flight with 50% miles you already have and 50% miles you buy on the spot, the cost is just 1.5 cpm. That’s the new sweet spot. The price per mile goes up to 1.56 cpm or so if you buy 60% at booking.

  4. Hi
    I am wondering if I am still qualified to be arawded with this promotion. I bought 33,000×2 this August under this promotion. Does it mean that I only have 90,000 to buy in quantity based on its 150,000 per calendar year? Than you!

  5. Their website search function for award tickets is also terrible. I have not tried calling them but I doubt I will be buying any of their miles.

  6. Can I book BKK to LAX via FRA? (all on LH First class) and on the way back LAX to BKK (routing BKK/FRA LH F, FRA/LHR LH C, and 1 night in London and LHR/BKK TG F)

    Many thanks!

  7. @ Royalfirst – AFAIK, Lifemiles is still in the same position as other *A partners with regards to LH F availability (i.e. you may get it but only within 14-15 days of departure). With regards to your routing, I don’t believe you are allowed to mix cabins even if there’s no F on a particular flight which is rather inconvenient to say the least.

    FWIW, LM award engine routes BKK-LAX directly (TPAC) for 135L miles RT in Business. A multi-city BKK-FRA-LAX search pulls up Business for 182.5K miles (looks like it prices it a 3 one-ways).

  8. I’m trying to book a trip from NYC->SCL in April. I see availability on Air Canada at the low level on, but when I search Lifemiles it says sold out, and only shows an option on Avianca that costs 108k miles. Am I doing something wrong?

  9. @ Paul — Well they do constantly run 100% bonuses on sharing or buying miles, so I think the devaluations are more a function of them having just joined the Star Alliance not too long ago and wanting to make the numbers work in their favor.

  10. @ Mark — You might have had shorter waits, but if you don’t mind me asking, what has the call center actually been able to do for you?

  11. @ royalfirst — Only way to know for sure is through the website. The Lufthansa itinerary might work, but the return wouldn’t due to mixed cabins.

  12. @ choi — Who really knows? My general rule with them is that if it can’t be booked online it can’t be booked. Website doesn’t allow stopovers.

  13. @ DA — If I’m not mistaken they charge a $150 to change an award and $50 to cancel an award (I know, the fee structure doesn’t make any sense).

  14. @ Matty — I was able to pull up that routing. For airline preference just make sure you choose “Air Canada” on the search page. Good luck!

  15. I don’t travel on USAir often but I have 19.5k USAir miles that expire at the end of May. In order to take full advantage of the 100% bonus, I’ll have to buy 11k miles. At $685 (buy + gift cost), and a trip to SFO in Jan/Feb, is it worth it?

  16. @ Julius — Which offer are you trying to take advantage of? You posted this in the Lifemiles post, but do you mean the 100% bonus on shared miles with US Airways? If so, do you have another US Airways account, and how many miles does it have?

  17. No worries! 🙂 I’m not doing a good job of explaining.

    The 100% bonus is only if you transfer 30-50k miles. Since I’m at 19k I’ll have to buy 11k in order to get the 100% bonus. Right?
    The cost of buying 11k points is $385.
    The fee for transferring 30k is $300.
    I’m not entirely convinced $685 is a good “investment”. (I say this because I just don’t have enough knowledge of how to determine mile valuation.)

    If you told me those 60k could pay for 2 roundtrip tickets from east coast to west coast it helps put it into perspective.

  18. Booked one-way LH Business LAX-JFK-FRA-BOM through the website…bought 18000 (x2) miles and paid cash for the rest…all in it was less than $1000…same date, I couldn’t get coach tickets for less than $900 on any airline 🙂

  19. Is there any issue with the credit card name not matching account name?

    And can you book award tickets for anyone with LM?


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