Score cheap United and Star Alliance awards by buying LifeMiles with up to a 145% bonus

Nov 7, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

LifeMiles is the mileage program of Colombia-based airline Avianca. But even if you aren’t interested in flying Avianca — or flying 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 offering regular sales of discounted miles.

And a new one of these sales just popped up. Now through Nov. 12, targeted LifeMiles members can get up to a 145% bonus when buying LifeMiles. You can see if you’re targeted by going to the LifeMiles buy miles page and clicking on the various offers. Note that you’ll need to log into your LifeMiles account first, or create one if you don’t have one already.

As with most programs, the standard rate for buying LifeMiles is pricey. However, this bonus drops the cost down to as little as 1.35 cents per mile, if your account is targeted for the 145% bonus. That’s a solid deal compared to TPG’s valuation of 1.7 cents per mile. Here’s how the promotion breaks down:

  • Buy 1,000 – 10,000 miles, get a 105% bonus (1.6 cents each)
  • Buy 11,000 – 50,000 miles, get a 115% bonus (1.53 cents each)
  • Buy 51,000 – 100,000 miles, get a 135% bonus (1.4 cents each)
  • Buy 101,000 – 200,000 miles, get a 145% bonus (1.35 cents each)

Now, not everyone will be targeted for the best bonus — and some people won’t be targeted for any bonus at all. Across various accounts of TPG employees, the best our staff was targeted for was a 135% bonus, which works out to 1.4 cents per mile, which still isn’t a bad deal.

Why buy LifeMiles?

Although TPG originally didn’t recommend bothering with LifeMiles, the program has made some notable improvements to its online booking process and recently added mixed-cabin ticketing. Now, 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 cobranded 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 Dec. 31, 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.

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 $101.25 at the maximized 1.35 cent rate

One-way transcontinental lie-flat United business-class flights for 25,000 miles from $337.50 at the maximized 1.35 cent rate

One-way to Europe in Lufthansa business class for 63,000 miles from $850.50 at the maximized 1.35 cent rate

Photo of Air China 747-8 business class by Zach Honig/TPG.
Air China 747-8 first class. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.)

One-way to Europe in Lufthansa first class for 87,000 miles from $1,174.50 at the maximized 1.35 cent rate

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:

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.

Avianca Vida Visa® Card
Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Standard 20,000 welcome bonus after first purchase, plus 20,000 bonus miles after at least $1,000 spend on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening (total of 40,000). Promo code SB4060 must be entered when completing application in order to receive the additional 20,000 welcome bonus miles after qualifying purchases.
  • Earn 2 LifeMiles per $1 spent on Avianca purchases
  • Earn 1 LifeMile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 15% discount on purchases of miles with Multiply Your Miles
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
14.74% to 27.74%, based on your creditworthiness
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.