Citi Has Added Avianca LifeMiles As A Transfer Partner – Please Be Careful

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Citibank will be losing Hilton Honors as a transfer partner in just a few weeks time but, while that will leave the ThankYou Points program without any hotel partners at all, at least Citi is still working on the airline side of things.

So far, in 2017, Citi has added Turkish Airlines and Jet Airways as ThankYou transfer partners and now, with immediate effect, it has added the Avianca LifeMiles program too.

a list of flights with red text

While it’s always good news to see a transferable currency like ThankYou Points get another transfer partner I can’t get excited about this.

The Good News

Avianca is a member of the Star Alliance so its LifeMiles can be used on a lot of airlines….including the likes of United, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and SWISS.

On top of that the Avianca award chart is fair (there are some good redemptions to be had) and customers don’t get penalised with fuel surcharges (but there is a $25 booking fee on all awards).

That’s all very positive…but there are negatives too.

The Not So Good News

You may read that you’ll be able to use LifeMiles for some highly sought after awards like Lufthansa First Class….but you won’t – LifeMiles blocks some (most?) of the more aspirational awards.

The LifeMiles Website is phenomenally glitchy and I’ve lost count of the number of times it has crashed or returned an error message when I’ve been trying to book an award – irritating doesn’t begin to describe it.

The LifeMiles call center staff can be difficult to deal with….and you will have to call at some point as the website is unstable. Let’s just say I’ve had a few sub-optimal experiences with them.

Having said all of that, and because there are some good redemptions to be had courtesy of the LifeMiles award chart, that’s not enough for me to completely rule out a transfer of ThankYou points.

This is…..


I value Citi ThankYou points at around 1.5 cents each and, although I’ve had redemptions that offered far better value than that, I think that’s a fair valuation.

Avianca LifeMiles are regularly on sale for less than that and, as recently as 21 September, OMAAT posted about an offer of LifeMiles at just 1.375 cents each.

I’m not comfortable transferring points I value at 1.5 cents into a rewards program that sells its miles at less than that valuation.

If that wasn’t enough there’s also the fact that I can transfer ThankYou Points direct to Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program and actually book some of the aspirational awards that LifeMiles blocks….and I’ve done that quite successfully.

a room with a chair and deskSingapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Should I have a need for an ANA or Asiana award (both available with LifeMiles) I’d be a lot happier buying the points I need for the award than transferring over ThankYou Points that I value more highly.

Bottom Line

It’s nice to see Citi adding more transfer partners to the ThankYou program but I’ll be passing on this one.

With LifeMiles often sold very cheaply I’m half-waiting for Avianca to devalue the program when I’m not paying attention and, even if that doesn’t happen, I have better uses for my ThankYou Points balance anyway.


  1. Can you provide more details on blocked awards? I had no issue finding a Lufthansa F award (same availability showed) on LifeMiles.

    • Great to hear that you managed to book LH First Class…may I ask when this was so we have a data point.

      I’ve had instances when I could see LH First Class available on both United and Aeroplane but the lifemiles website and the call centre couldn’t see it.

      And I’m not the only one that’s faced this issue – anecdotal evidence from the comments sections across the miles and points blogosphere shows that travelers are regularly not able to book First Class awards through LifeMiles that are available to book through other Star Alliance channels.

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