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Why now's the time to consider Avianca's Subscribe-and-Save Club LifeMiles program

Feb. 05, 2020
7 min read
Why now's the time to consider Avianca's Subscribe-and-Save Club LifeMiles program
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest promotion. It was most recently published on Aug. 28, 2019.

In February 2018, Avianca LifeMiles launched a unique buy-miles program called Club LifeMiles. Through a subscribe-and-save type of promotion, members can rack up LifeMiles for as little as 1.35 cents per mile.

Between this low price and LifeMiles' sweet spots, this program allows members to score one-way United awards for as little as $101 all the way up to a first-class flight to Europe with Lufthansa (with no fuel surcharges) for $1,175 in purchased miles. The catch is that you have to subscribe for a full year to get all of the quarterly bonuses necessary to lower the per-mile cost to 1.35 cents each. For reference, that's significantly cheaper than TPG's valuation of LifeMiles at 1.7 cents per mile.

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If that wasn't a good enough deal, LifeMiles is running an offer to targeted members to get another 15% mileage bonus for subscribing to Club LifeMiles. If you've been targeted by email you have a deadline of Feb. 10, 2020, to sign up.

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The details can be a bit confusing with this offer, so let's break down how it works. In addition to the standard quarterly bonus, targeted members who take advantage of this offer will get an additional bonus after the second month of subscription. This bonus is calculated as 15% of the annual bonus for that plan.

Let's say that you subscribe to the $126 per month plan to buy 7,000 miles per month. The quarterly bonuses add up to 28,000 miles for a year. And 15% of that annual bonus amount is 4,200 miles, which is the "extra bonus" paid after the second month.

After one year of subscribing to Club LifeMiles at this 7,000 per month rate, you'd collect 84,000 miles from the monthly purchases plus 28,000 from the quarterly bonuses plus 4,200 from this "extra bonus." That's a total of 116,200 LifeMiles for a total cost of $1,512. That computes to 1.3 cents per mile.

The bonuses aren't paid out linearly. The quarterly bonuses are meant to keep members subscribing for the full year. When factoring in both the quarterly bonuses and this special one-time 15% bonus, here's how the accumulated cost and accumulated miles by month add up for the 7,000 LifeMiles per month package option:

MonthTotal paymentsTotal milesCost per mile
1$1267,0001.80
2$25218,2001.38
3$37828,0001.35
4$50435,0001.44
5$63042,0001.50
6$75653,2001.42
7$88260,2001.47
8$1,00867,2001.50
9$1,13481,2001.40
10$1,26088,2001.43
11$1,38695,2001.46
12$1,512116,2001.30

And for the 5,000 LifeMiles per month option:

MonthTotal paymentsTotal milesCost per mile
1$925,0001.84
2$18413,0001.42
3$27620,0001.38
4$36825,0001.47
5$46030,0001.53
6$55238,0001.45
7$64443,0001.50
8$73648,0001.53
9$82858,0001.43
10$92063,0001.46
11$1,01268,0001.49
12$1,10483,0001.33

And here's how the 3,000 miles per month subscription breaks down:

MonthTotal paymentsTotal milesCost per mile
1$573,0001.90
2$1147,8001.46
3$17112,0001.42
4$22815,0001.52
5$28518,0001.58
6$34222,8001.50
7$39925,8001.55
8$45628,8001.58
9$51334,8001.47
10$57037,8001.51
11$62740,8001.54
12$68449,8001.37

Is it a good deal? Well, TPG values LifeMiles at 1.7 cents per mile, so buying miles at 1.3 cents is a solid discount to this valuation.

However, LifeMiles aren't for everyone. You're going to need to know how to use the miles and have a high-value redemption in mind for which you're planning to use the miles. Still, you could get far more than 1.3 cents per mile in value when redeeming for premium cabins like Lufthansa First Class — plus, LifeMiles doesn't pass along fuel surcharges.

Related: Everything you need to know about Avianca LifeMiles

Also, with program devaluations prevalent, points and miles are a bad investment long-term. Subscribing to a plan that takes a full year to pay off is a bit risky. However, LifeMiles has signaled through award sales of up to 31% off that it doesn't seem to think its award chart is currently too cheap.

The other catch with LifeMiles is its spotty IT and customer support. This was bad enough that TPG couldn't recommend LifeMiles for a few years. But, Avianca has made some notable improvements to its online booking system, making it much more usable than before. While there are still periodic issues or missing award availability, it's about as good as you'll find on any other airline reservation system nowadays.

Looking for other ways to top off your LifeMiles account? There are now plenty of options. LifeMiles is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points (1:1), American Express Membership Rewards (1:1) Capital One Miles (2:1.5) and Marriott points.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

Featured image by Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy

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  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees