Fly with Star Alliance? You can now use fewer miles with latest Citi transfer bonus

Aug 17, 2020

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In recent years, Avianca LifeMiles has seen a huge rise in popularity.

With miles transferable from several major credit cards, LifeMiles is a now-lucrative program from which to redeem Star Alliance flights. And part of the reason why it has made it to the mainstream is just how valuable LifeMiles can be. In fact, the Bogota, Colombia-based program has some of the most attractive redemption rates for Star Alliance awards.

Currently, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points to Avianca LifeMiles and receive a 25% bonus on the transfer. Here are all the details.

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Citi ThankYou to Avianca bonus

Normally, Citi ThankYou points transfer to Avianca LifeMiles at a ratio of 1:1 (with transfers in increments of 1,000 points). TPG pegs the cost of a single ThankYou point at 1.7 cents each, equaling the valuation of one Avianca LifeMile.

From Aug. 17 to Sept. 18, 2020, you can now get a 25% bonus on that transfer from Citi. In other words, 1,000 ThankYou points will net 1,250 LifeMiles. There are several things to note about this bonus that may be slightly different from other transfer bonus promotions.

(Screen cap courtesy of Avianca)
(Screen cap courtesy of Avianca)

Related: The best Citi cards of 2020

The details

First, the bonus won’t be reflected on the Citi ThankYou website. Since this bonus is a promotion directly from LifeMiles, you’ll see the 25% bonus as a separate line item and transaction in your LifeMiles account.

Also, there is no limit to how many points you can transfer, and even better, there is no registration required.

Finally, LifeMiles often runs award sales that require mileage for select flights and destinations. That means you’ll have the opportunity to double-dip. However, it’s typically not advised to transfer miles speculatively without a specific redemption in mind.

Redeeming LifeMiles

There are many great ways to utilize the program and in fact, we have a full guide to LifeMiles. With no fuel surcharges and competitive mileage requirements, it’s no surprise that LifeMiles has become a popular program. Here are a few sweet spots to pique your interest:

Keep in mind that with this promotion, you won’t need to transfer those full amounts from Citi, since you’ll take home a 25% bonus. Instead, divide the price of your award by 1.25 to calculate the “effective” number of Citi points. Then, round to the nearest 1,000-point increment.

As an example, if you plan to book a Lufthansa first-class flight, you’ll need 87,500 miles. Here’s the calculation:

  • 87,000 ÷ 1.25 = 69,600 points

When you round up, you’ll get 70,000 Citi points. With the bonus, you’ll wind up with 87,500 miles — enough to book the flight and have 500 miles leftover.

I’ve been able to take advantage of the last two awards listed to fly Lufthansa and ANA first, both of which were incredibly memorable flights.

 Related: Review of ANA first class from Washington to Tokyo

Should I be concerned about Avianca’s bankruptcy?

You should be aware that Avianca filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. earlier this year. The airline can continue to operate during its bankruptcy, but the future of the company is still uncertain.

With that said, LifeMiles operates as a separate entity from Avianca, so there’s a high likelihood that your miles would be safe regardless. Your redemption options, however, could be limited if the airline goes insolvent.

For the short-term, it’s business as usual for earning and redeeming LifeMiles. However, this also shines a light on how you may want to reconsider a speculative transfer.

Related: What you can do when your airline goes belly up

Other ways to earn LifeMiles

LifeMiles is not only a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Rewards. Here’s a full list of transferable points/miles programs that partner with Avianca:

Also, LifeMiles often has sales to buy miles, so it is worth keeping an eye out for promotions. Be aware that LifeMiles usually expire 12 months after the most recent mileage accrual.

Other transactions, including redemption transactions, don’t extend the validity of the miles. However, earning miles from a cobranded LifeMiles credit card or having Avianca elite status will extend the validity of miles by 24 months.

There’s also the Avianca Vuela Visa® Card is currently offering a 40,000-mile bonus after your first purchase in the first 90 days of account opening and the Avianca Vida Visa® Card is currently offering a 20,000-mile bonus after your first purchase in the first 90 days of account opening.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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