One Week Only – Buy LifeMiles For Just 1.35 Cents Each (Great For Star Alliance Awards)


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Avianca LifeMiles is celebrating Cyber Week with a huge discount on the cost of its miles and going some way to proving a point I made just last week (I’ll come back to this point a little later).

Between 20 and 27 November all purchases of over 5,000 LifeMiles will come with a 145% bonus and that’s the second biggest bonus I remember seeing in any LifeMiles promotion.

The Headline Terms & Conditions

  • The bonus for this promotion is 2×1 + 45% additional miles. The bonus is calculated based on the miles purchased per individual transaction without taking into account the 2×1 bonus.
  • The miles must be purchased in multiples of 1,000.
  • The minimum miles to purchase per transaction is 1,000 LifeMiles.
  • The maximum miles to purchase per transaction during this promotion to receive the bonus showed above is 200,000 LifeMiles if the Member has not purchased miles in 2017 or 200,000 LifeMiles minus the miles previously purchased by the Member in 2017.
  • The Member may purchase miles outside of the limits showed above but in such case the transactions will be processed but no bonuses will be granted.
  • The maximum amount of miles to receive by a member per calendar year outside of this promotion is 200,000 LifeMiles (including miles purchased and bonuses received).  If the member surpasses the limit, through purchases made during this promotion and other purchases in 2017, taking into account the bonuses received for those purchases, he or she will not be able to purchase any more miles until the next calendar year.
  • This promotion applies for miles purchases made between November 20th and November 27th, 2017 (between 00.00-23.59 GMT -6, El Salvador).

The full terms and conditions are on the offer page

The Math

The number of LifeMiles you buy has no bearing on the bonus you receive or the cost/mile you incur so that’s a big positive here.

It’s actually quite incredible how many miles you can buy through this promotion – 490,000 in total – so there’s no worry that you can’t purchase enough for an award.

Buying the full annual allowance of 200,000 LifeMiles would see you net 490,000 miles (after the bonus) at a cost of $6,600:

That works out to ~1.35 cents/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.

I’ve been waiting for LifeMiles to hit us with a sudden devaluation for well over a year now and I haven’t changed my opinion on the program – Avianca is printing LifeMiles like Germany printed Marks between the wars and it looks unsustainable.

This is not to say that everyone should stay away from this promotion (far from it) as there is definitely value to be had here….but you just need to be aware of the risks that you’re taking before you jump in.

Avianca is a member of the Star Alliance so LifeMiles can be used for travel on a host of useful airlines – that makes any LifeMiles sale interesting.

Star Alliance Airlines

Here’s a link to the Avianca Star Alliance award chart and even a quick glance should tell you that there are some nice redemptions on offer.

Example one-way costs:

  • USA to Europe in First Class costs 87,000 miles = $1,175 in this promotion
  • USA to North Asia (e.g. Japan) in First Class costs 90,000 miles = $1,215 in this promotion
  • Europe to Central Asia in Business Class costs 45,000 miles = $608 in this promotion
  • Europe to Australia/New Zealand in Business Class costs 85,000 miles = $1,148 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 Thai A350 product using LifeMiles.

ANA-business-classANA Business Class seat

The Issues

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 nothing short of 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.

More Info

  • As LifeMiles bonuses go this is almost as good as it gets. We had a 150% bonus almost 2 years ago but the current offer is the best deal I’ve seen since then.
  • 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 – the Amex Platinum which offers 5 points/dollar on spend with airlines would be a good choice.
  • 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 in the same booking.

LifeMiles As A Citi Transfer Partner

LifeMiles became a Citi ThankYou transfer partner last week and I mentioned at the time that I didn’t think this was a particularly useful option…and this sale reinforces my point.

I don’t know anyone who values Citi ThankYou points at under 1.5 cents each and yet we are now seeing LifeMiles sold for considerably less than that on a regular basis.

On the grounds that a currency cannot possibly be worth more than what it’s being sold for why would you transfer Citi ThankYou points to LifeMiles? That would be like selling a $10 note for $9 and makes little economic sense.

Bottom Line

If you’re tempted by this promotion I strongly advise that you work out exactly what you’re going to do with the miles before you buy.

Please don’t buy miles in the hope that you’ll figure out what to do with them some time down the road – we don’t know when LifeMiles will next devalue so stockpiling them is a recipe to get burned. You’ve been warned!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for the warning, if it weren’t for your strong warning I would have pulled the trigger. I don’t have an immediate need in mind, but am so tempted. Because the other thing is if you use the Amex Platinum and buy the maximum 200,000 miles, you are not only getting 490,000 miles for $6,600, but also another 33,000 Membership rewards points, which is easily worth at least $500. Very tempted, but it might be a year before I use these points and the devaluation risk is just too much for me.

    • To be fair, I have been warning of a LifeMiles devaluation for a while and it hasn’t come but still I think you’ve done the right thing.

      I can say with near certainty that we’ll see at least one more good promotion from LifeMiles within the next 12 months so, if that appears closer to when you’re ready to book flights, that should work better for you and reduce your risk considerably.

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