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

Jan 27, 2021

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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 to redeem Star Alliance flights. And part of the reason why it has made it to the mainstream is how valuable LifeMiles can be. In fact, the Bogota, Colombia-based program has some of the most attractive redemption rates for Star Alliance awards.

You can currently 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.

Through Feb. 18, 2021, you can 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)
(Screenshot courtesy of

Related: The best Citi cards

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:

Remember 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.

For 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. in May 2020. The airline can continue to operate during its bankruptcy, but its future 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.

The information for the Avianca Vuela and Avianca Vida cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Benji Stawski contributed to this story.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy. 

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