Score Lufthansa First Class for 16,000 Points and $991 by Combining Transfer Bonuses

Jul 2, 2019

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Avianca’s LifeMiles program may not be known by many travelers, but it’s a great way of scoring Star Alliance awards for cheap. Between reasonable redemption rates, easy ways to accumulate miles and no fuel surcharges, it’s the best way to score incredible rewards — like Lufthansa first class.

And if you’re interested in these amazing redemptions, now’s a great time to take action. Now through July 5, you’ll get 25% bonus miles when transferring Citi ThankYou Points to Avianca LifeMiles — through a promotion offered by LifeMiles rather than through Citi. That means that you can transfer 70,000 Citi ThankYou points to LifeMiles for enough miles to book a Lufthansa first class award to Europe. Right now through July 31 there’s also a 25% transfer bonus for transferring Capital One miles to Avianca LifeMiles, though that bonus originates from a 2:1.5 transfer ratio, so it’s not quite as lucrative but extremely useful if you’re looking to use Capital One miles.

But, if you don’t have enough Citi points or Capital One miles in your account to take advantage of this offer, there’s another way for those in “two-player mode” to score these awards for far fewer points and a reasonable amount of cash. Now through July 12, you’ll get 115% bonus miles when transferring Avianca LifeMiles to friends and family.

Transferring miles costs $15 per 1,000 miles transferred, so if you have existing LifeMiles — or have points you can transfer over — you’ll effectively be able to mint LifeMiles for just 1.3 cents per mile.

How does this work? Let’s step through the process to show how it can be an excellent opportunity to score some fantastic premium cabin redemptions, even if you’ve never heard of LifeMiles before now.

First, the basics. LifeMiles is a transfer partner of:

So, even if you don’t have LifeMiles, you can get some quickly just by transferring from one of these programs. In addition, LifeMiles has a miles+cash booking option that allows you to purchase as much as 57% of the miles you need during the process of booking at a rate as low as 1.5 cents per mile.

Combine these elements with this transfer promotion and LifeMiles’ reasonable redemption rates (plus low taxes and fees), and that means right now you can book:

  • Business Class one-way from US to Europe: 12,000 Citi ThankYou points + $721 total out-of-pocket
  • First Class One-Way to Europe: 16,000 Citi ThankYou points + $991 total out-of-pocket

Business Class to Europe

Here’s an example of how this can work in practice. Say you want to fly business class to Europe. LifeMiles charges 63,000 per person for the one-way business class flight.

Start by transferring 12,000 Citi ThankYou Points to one traveler’s LifeMiles account. After the 25% transfer bonus, that account will get 15,000 LifeMiles.

Transfers between accounts must be in increments of 1,000. Luckily, you’ll have exactly 15,000 miles to transfer to the other person’s account, paying $225 to get 17,250 bonus miles.

That gives you a total of 32,250 LifeMiles, which is still 31,000 miles short of the miles needed. However, you can book the award using the LifeMiles + Money option to buy the remaining 31,000 miles for $465 at a rate of 1.5 cents per mile:

In total, you’ll spend: 12,000 Citi ThankYou points plus a $225 transfer cost to produce another 17,250 miles plus $465 for 31,000 miles through LifeMiles+Money and $31 in taxes/fees, for a total of $721 out of pocket to purchase a one-way business class flights to Europe.

Let’s run through the same redemption starting with different numbers of Citi ThankYou points:

Business Class US-Europe Miles Cost Miles Cost Miles Cost
Citi ThankYou points 14,000 13,000 12,000
LifeMiles Transfer Bonus (25%) 3,500 3,250 3,000
Total LifeMiles account #1 17,500 16,250 15,000
Miles transferred from account #1 17,000 16,000 15,000
Transfer Bonus 19,550 $255 18,400 $240 17,250 $225
Total LifeMiles in account #2 36,550 34,400 32,250
LifeMiles + Cash purchase 27,000 $405 29,000 $435 31,000 $465
Redemption Amount 63,000 $31 63,000 $31 63,000 $31
Total Out-Of-Pocket $691 $706 $721
The upper deck of a Lufthansa 747-8, configured in a 2-2 business-class layout (Photo by JT Genter/TPG)
The upper deck of a Lufthansa 747-8, configured in a 2-2 business-class layout. (Photo by JT Genter/TPG)

Lufthansa First Class to Europe

Now let’s run through the same example, but in first class. Avianca LifeMiles are especially valuable to use for booking Lufthansa First Class, as the program doesn’t pass along the pricey Lufthansa carrier surcharges. LifeMiles charges 87,000 miles for one-way first class awards between the US and Europe, and taxes and fees only add around $31 per person.

To get started, you’ll want to transfer 16,000 Citi ThankYou points to one account, ending up with 20,000 LifeMiles. By then transferring these 20,000 LifeMiles to another account, you’ll effectively purchase 23,000 more miles for $300:

Next, head to LifeMiles and book a one-way Lufthansa first class ticket for $691 plus the 43,000 LifeMiles you’ve generated so far. All in, you’ll pay 16,000 ThankYou points plus $991 for a first class award ticket to Europe.

Other options include:

First Class US-Europe Miles Cost Miles Cost Miles Cost Miles Cost
Citi ThankYou points 18,000 17,000 16,000 15,000
Amex Transfer Bonus (15%) 4,500 4,250 4,000 3,750
Total LifeMiles in account #1 22,500 21,250 20,000 18,750
Miles transferred from account #1 22,000 21,000 20,000 18,000
Transfer Bonus 25,300 $330 24,150 $315 23,000 $300 20,700 $270
Total LifeMiles in account #2 47,300 45,150 43,000 38,700
LifeMiles + Cash purchase 40,000 $600 42,000 $630 44,000 $660 49,000 $735
Redemption Amount 87,000 $31 87,000 $31 87,000 $31 87,000 $31
Total Out-Of-Pocket $961 $976 $991 $1,067
(Photo by Zach Honig / TPG)

Bottom Line

LifeMiles is a program many beginner and immediate mileage collectors may have never heard of and/or are afraid to start using. Considering the complexities of the program in the past, that’s completely fair. However, LifeMiles’ online booking system has improved, and the program offers truly excellent redemption options, both for mileage cost and out-of-pocket cost. The system still definitely has its quirks and can be frustrating to use at times, but it’s certainly worth considering if you’re looking to book some excellent awards.

If buying LifeMiles at 1.3 cents per mile sounds good, don’t forget that you can also mine LifeMiles for as little as 1.35 cents per mile through “Club LifeMiles”.

Featured image of Lufthansa First Class by Julian Mark Kheel / The Points Guy.

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