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Avianca has announced a LifeMiles sale in which members can purchase miles with a bonus of up to 130%. In typical Avianca fashion nothing is simple so I needed a couple of seconds to figure out exactly what the airline was offering but, in a nutshell, the 130% bonus means that you can buy miles for 1.43 cents each.
Here’s what my email from Avianca looks like:
In short, Avianca is offering to sell me LifeMiles with a 100% bonus but, if I make the purchase before 10 September 2016, I can get a further bonus of up to 30%…..giving me the 130% bonus I mentioned.
The minimum number of LifeMiles you need to buy to get the highest bonus (and to therefore get the lowest unit cost) is 101,000:
101,000 LifeMiles with a 130% bonus comes to a total of 232,300 LifeMiles at a cost of $3,333 or around 1.43 cents per mile.
Should anyone wish to buy the full allowable number of LifeMiles (150,000)……
…that would cost $4,950 for a total of 345,000 LifeMiles (including the bonus) which is still 1.43 cents per mile.
Should You Buy LifeMiles
I consider LifeMiles to be one of the riskier loyalty systems right now so I would not advise someone starting out in the miles & points hobby to make a purchase. As far as I’m concerned this is a “buyer beware” situation.
I wrote a post last December explaining why I think LifeMiles are risky and, while nothing bad has happened in the last 8 months, I still think the LifeMiles award chart is ripe for a devaluation.
This is not to say that everyone should stay away from this promotion – far from it – there is definitely value to be had here but you just need to be acutely aware of the risks that you’re taking before you dive in.
Avianca is a member of the Star Alliance so LifeMiles can be used for travel on a host of interesting airlines – you can even use LifeMiles to book highly coveted Lufthansa First Class awards – so that makes any LifeMiles sale interesting.
Here’s what the Avianca Star Alliance award chart looks like right now (click to enlarge in a new window)…..
…and even a cursory glance should tell you that there are some nice redemptions on offer.
Example one-way costs:
- USA to Europe in First Class costs 83,000 miles = $1,187 in this promotion
- USA to North Asia (e.g. Japan) in First Class costs 90,000 miles = $1,287 in this promotion
- Europe to Central Asia in Business Class costs 45,000 miles = $644 in this promotion
- Europe to Australia/New Zealand in Business Class costs 85,000 miles = $1,216 in this promotion
When you consider that those prices are for travel on airlines like Lufthansa, Air New Zealand and ANA then the promotion becomes quite compelling. You could even try out the new Thai A350 product using LifeMiles.
The biggest issue is one I’ve already mentioned – possible devaluation – but there’s also the issue of the Avianca call centre which has a reputation for being absolutely abysmal. The agents appear to be incompetent beyond compare and I’ve yet to hear anyone have a good word to say about them.
All this means is that you’re pretty much reliant on finding bookable award space online or you have to be prepared for a seemingly never-ending phone call to an agent who doesn’t appear to know how to find award space on his/her computer.
- As LifeMiles bonuses go this isn’t a bad one. We had a 135% bonus not too long ago but it was as far back as last December that we saw LifeMiles on offer with a fantastic 150% bonus.
- LifeMiles purchases count as an airline purchase so, if you do buy any miles, make sure you use a credit card that offers a good travel/airline category bonus.
- LifeMiles now allows you to book mixed cabin awards (which it didn’t in the past) so you can mix Business and First Class awards, for example, on the same booking.
If you’re tempted by this promotion (and I know a lot of people will be) I strongly advise that you figure out exactly what you’re going to do with the miles before you buy. By “figure out” I mean that you should go online and make sure the award(s) you want to book are available and only buy LifeMiles with the intention of booking a trip (or trips) straight away.
Do not hoard LifeMiles as you’re just going to get caught out when the program devalues….and that’s about as inevitable as death and taxes.