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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.

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:

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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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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees