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AMEX is currently running a transfer bonus to various Avios loyalty programs (ending today), it’s running a transfer to Marriott Bonvoy and now the card issuer has launched a 15% bonus on points transfers between Membership Rewards and Avianca’s LifeMiles.
The 15% transfer bonus runs through 31 October 2019 and will see AMEX Membership Rewards Points convert to LifeMiles ina ratio of 1,000:1,150…but is this any good?
Should You Be Transferring Points To LifeMiles
I value American Express Membership Rewards Points at 1.5 cents each and LifeMiles often sells its currency at 1.35 cents each so if you plan on using math to decide if you should be transferring points across to LifeMiles you’ll find that it’s a close-run thing.
To me, 1,000 Membership Rewards Points are worth $15 while 1,150 LifeMiles are worth $15.53 (assuming a value of 1.35 cents each) so anyone transferring points to LifeMiles wouldn’t be making a mathematical error (based on my valuations)…but that doesn’t necessarily mean a transfer is a good idea.
LifeMiles certainly has its upsides…
- No surcharges on awards
- One way awards are allowed
- Business Class awards are well-priced
- There’s a good choice of Star Alliance partners to choose from
…but it also has its downsides:
- Buggy website
- Phantom award availability can show up online
- LifeMiles agents aren’t known for their friendliness or helpfulness
- Not all Star Alliance awards can be booked using LifeMiles
You really need to be sure of what you’re doing (and be sure that awards are available) before considering a transfer of Membership Rewards Points to LifeMiles.
I am inherently wary of any loyalty programs that print their currency like there’s no tomorrow and that’s very much what LifeMiles likes to do.
LifeMiles is ripe for a devaluation (yes, I know I’ve been saying this for a while but that doesn’t make it any less true) so it’s entirely possible that someone transferring over points without a plan will find their balance is worth considerably less when they finally come up with a use for their LifeMiles…and that’s no way to curate a good miles & points strategy.
Yes, you can book some very nice Star Alliance premium cabin awards with LifeMiles and they can be very useful for short-haul Economy Class awards too…but unless you can actually see that an award you’d like to book is currently available (and you have checked this with the call center) no one should be transferring points over to LifeMiles – there’s simply too much risk.
Personally, I’ll be giving this offer a wide berth and saving my AMEX points for the next 50% Avios transfer that appears or perhaps another nice Singapore Airlines premium cabin award.
If I find myself in need of LifeMiles I’m more than capable of buying them in one of the many sales they offer.