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LifeMiles is the mileage program of Colombia-based airline Avianca. But even if you aren’t interested in flying Avianca — or to Colombia — it’s worth getting to know LifeMiles. That’s because the program has made itself known as the wholesaler of cheap Star Alliance miles and award tickets, as well as regular sales on discounted miles.
It also just launched a new targeted mileage sale on Tuesday. Offers differ from member to member, but some members can buy LifeMiles with up to a 145% bonus. As with most programs, the standard rate for buying LifeMiles is pricey. However, this 145% bonus drops the cost down to just 1.35 cents per mile. That’s a solid deal compared to TPG’s valuation of 1.7 cents per mile.
The most generous offer we’ve seen breaks down as follows:
- Buy 1,000 – 12,000 miles, get a 115% bonus (1.53 cents apiece)
- Buy 13,000 – 40,000 miles, get a 135% bonus (1.40 cents apiece)
- Buy 41,000 – 200,000 miles, get a 145% bonus (1.35 cents apiece)
Other members are seeing an offer of up to 130% bonus. Here’s how the bonus chart breaks down for that offer:
- Buy 1,000 – 10,000 miles, get a 100% bonus (1.65 cents apiece)
- Buy 11,000 – 50,000 miles, get a 105% bonus (1.61 cents apiece)
- Buy 51,000 – 100,000 miles, get a 120% bonus (1.5 cents apiece)
- Buy 101,000 – 200,000 miles, get a 130% bonus (1.43 cents apiece)
Why buy LifeMiles?
LifeMiles lands at number one on our list of most undervalued airline loyalty programs due to the number of hidden gems in the program and low taxes and fees. One of the best benefits of LifeMiles is that it doesn’t pass along carrier surcharges, making it an excellent way of booking Lufthansa first class for cheap. Taxes and fees on LifeMiles awards from the U.S. to Germany only cost $25 out of pocket. Other programs can charge more than $500 one-way in taxes and fees.
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 co-branded LifeMiles credit card or as an Avianca elite status holder will extend the validity of miles by 24 months.
Speaking of Avianca credit cards, both the Avianca Vida Visa Card and the Avianca Vuela Visa Card are offering an extra 20,000 bonus miles when you apply by Sept. 30, 2019 using promo code “SB4060” and spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. The Vuela Visa card normally offers 40,000 bonus miles after your first card use, so this promo code brings the total bonus up to 60,000 miles. And the Vida Visa card usually offers 20,000 bonus miles after your first purchase, so this promo code brings the total offer up to 40,000 miles.
Although TPG didn’t recommend bothering with LifeMiles for a while, the program has made some notable improvements to its online booking process and recently added mixed-cabin ticketing.
Points and miles are a poor long-term investment, and devaluations can be announced at any time. So, it’s never a good idea to buy miles without having a planned use for them. If possible, it’s best to search and confirm award availability before buying miles and then redeeming the purchased miles as soon as they hit your account.
With all of that said, here are some great sweet spots in the LifeMiles program and how cheap you can score these awards with the targeted 145% bonus:
One-way domestic United flights for just 7,500 miles from $101 at the maximized 1.35 cent rate
One-way transcontinental lie-flat United business-class flights for 25,000 miles from $337 at the maximized 1.35 cent rate
One-way to Europe in Lufthansa business class for 63,000 miles from $849 at the maximized 1.35 cent rate
One-way to Europe in Lufthansa first class for 87,000 miles from $1,172 at the maximized 1.35 cent rate
- Taxes and fees starting at just $25
While TPG hasn’t completed testing on which card to use for buying Avianca LifeMiles (see our United and IHG testing), my purchase of LifeMiles through last fall’s 100% transfer bonus promotion coded as 3x points on my Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Other ways to pick up more LifeMiles include Avianca’s “Club LifeMiles” monthly subscription plan. And if you need to top off your account, remember that LifeMiles is also a transfer partner of four major transferable currencies:
- American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 ratio, instant transfer time)
- Capital One (2:1.5 ratio, instant transfer time)
- Citi ThankYou Rewards (1:1 ratio, instant transfer time)
- Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 with a 5,000-mile bonus for transferring 60,000 points, under 24-hour transfer time)
Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about Avianca’s “buy miles” promotions, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for the latest offer. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older deals below.
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NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
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.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees