Buy Miles for Just 1.39 Cents Each Through the New LifeMiles Subscription Program

Feb 19, 2018

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One of the most overlooked mileage programs is Avianca LifeMiles. With opportunities to book domestic United awards starting at just 7,500 miles and business class flights to Europe from 63,000 miles, LifeMiles certainly earns its place on TPG‘s list of undervalued mileage programs.

In addition to cheap redemptions, LifeMiles also provides opportunities to buy miles for cheap and was recently added as a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Rewards. But now, LifeMiles is offering a unique way of buying miles: via an installment plan.

Avianca just launched a new “Club LifeMiles” buy miles subscription program. You can find this new offering in the Avianca “Buy LifeMiles” section of the LifeMiles website:

There are six different plan options: three are grouped under “Travel the Americas” (Plan 500; Plan 1,000; Plan 2,000):

… and three under “Travel the World” (Plan 3,000; Plan 6,000; Plan 8,000):

But, the important part isn’t the plan names — rather, it’s the number of miles you’re buying and the rate you’re getting for those miles. Each plan allows you to buy a set number of monthly miles for the installment price:

  • Plan 500: Buy 500 miles each month for $10.99 (2.2 cents per mile)
  • Plan 1,000: Buy 1,000 miles each month for $19.99 (2.0 cents per mile)
  • Plan 2,000: Buy 2,000 miles each month for $32.99 (1.65 cents per mile)
  • Plan 3,000: Buy 3,000 miles each month for $49.99 (1.67 cents per mile)
  • Plan 6,000: Buy 6,000 miles each month for $92.99 (1.55 cents per mile)
  • Plan 8,000: Buy 8,000 miles each month for $129.99 (1.62 cents per mile)

However, the longer you subscribe, the more bonus miles you’ll earn. From the date of signing up, you’ll get pro-rated bonuses every three months, so the longer you keep your subscription, the lower your net cost per mile. If you subscribe for a full year on either Plan 6,000 or Plan 8,000, you’ll end up with 80,000 or 112,000 total miles respectively at a cost of 1.39 cents per mile:

Plan Total Miles with bonus Total Cost Net Cost Per Mile
Plan 500 8,000 $131.88 1.65
Plan 1,000 15,000 $239.88 1.60
Plan 2,000 28,000 $395.88 1.41
Plan 3,000 42,500 $599.88 1.41
Plan 6,000 80,000 $1,115.88 1.39
Plan 8,000 112,000 $1,559.88 1.39

Is It Worth Participating in Club LifeMiles?

First, let’s consider the pros: This plan is useful in picking up miles for cheap. In his latest buy miles promotion, TPG values LifeMiles at 1.7 cents per mile. So, the opportunity to buy miles at 1.39 cents per mile is certainly tempting if you’re going to take advantage of the sweet spots in the LifeMiles program.

At the purchase rate of 1.39 cents per mile, here are some examples of what you can book:

  • United domestic intra-region: $104 one-way (7,500 miles)
  • United transcontinental economy: $174 one-way (12,500 miles)
  • United transcontinental business: $348 one-way (25,000 miles)
  • North America to Europe business: $876 one-way (63,000 miles)
  • North America to North Asia business: $1,043 one-way (75,000 miles)
  • North American to Europe in Lufthansa first with no fuel surcharges: $1,209 one-way (87,000 miles)

However, the downside is that you’re only going to be racking up miles little by little. If you’re hoping to redeem LifeMiles for Lufthansa first class, it’s going to be a while before you accumulate enough miles to make that redemption, and you’re in danger of potentially seeing a devaluation in the meantime.

Also, the program has made some recent negative changes. In addition to blocking some Lufthansa award space, LifeMiles is shortening and restricting its expiration policy. Effective April 15, 2018, instead of just needing to have activity every 24 months, you need to “earn miles with Avianca or via any other commercial partner” in order to extend the expiration date by 12 months. Avianca elite members and credit card holders will get 24 month extensions with each earning activity. Of course, if your miles are about to expire under the new expiration policy, subscribing to a Club LifeMiles plan for just a month would be an easy way of extending your miles.

If you’re planning to be a long-term subscriber, this program pairs especially well with a Citi ThankYou earning credit card such as the Citi Premier® Card. With standard buy miles promotions, you buy a large chunk of miles that you generally apply to redemptions over time. However, with this Club LifeMiles program, members will be accumulating miles little by little. So, it’ll be useful to have a stash of ThankYou points to transfer in whenever you need to top off your account for a redemption.

H/T: Flyertalk via Point Me to the Plane

Featured image courtesy of Star Alliance.

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