Avianca LifeMiles Credit Card Review

Filed Under: AviancaTaca, Credit Cards
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Avianca LifeMiles is one of the most useful frequent flyer programs for Star Alliance award redemptions. LifeMiles often sells miles at a discount directly, which can be a great value, and they also have some transfer partners (including Amex, Capital One, and Citi), making their miles easy to come by.

However, many don’t realize that they also have two co-brand credit cards in the US — the Avianca Vida Visa® Card and Avianca Vuela Visa® Card.

In this post I wanted to look at those two cards more closely.

Avianca LifeMiles Card Welcome Bonus

Ordinarily, these two cards have the following welcome bonuses:

Avianca LifeMiles Card Annual Fee

The two Avianca credit cards have different annual fees:

  • The Avianca Vida Visa Card has an annual fee of $59
  • The Avianca Vuela Visa Card has an annual fee of $149

As you can see, that’s a significant difference in annual fees, though the cards also come with different benefits and welcome bonuses.

ANA First Class
Redeem LifeMiles for travel in ANA first class

Avianca LifeMiles Card Rewards Structure

The Avianca Vida Visa Card offers two miles per dollar spent on Avianca purchases, and one mile per dollar spent on everything else.

The Avianca Vuela Visa Card offers three miles per dollar spent on Avianca purchases, two miles per dollar spent on gas stations and grocery stores, and one mile per dollar spent on everything else.

Avianca LifeMiles Card Perks

The Avianca Vida Visa Card offers a 15% discount on purchases made with “Multiply Your Miles.” For those of you not familiar with this, it’s different than their typical promotions on purchased miles. Instead “Multiply Your Miles” allows you to earn bonus miles when flying with Avianca. So this can be useful if you fly Avianca frequently, but if not, it’s of limited use.

The Avianca Vuela Visa Card offers the following perks:

  • 15% discount on purchases made with “Multiply Your Miles”
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • A free additional piece of baggage for travel between the United States and Central America on Avianca
  • A 50% discount on an award ticket redeemed for travel to Central America or Colombia from the United States after $12,000 spent each year; this is exclusively valid for travel on Avianca, and can be in economy or business class
  • An additional 50% discount on an award ticket redeemed for travel to Central America or Colombia from the United States after $24,000 spent each year; this is exclusively valid for travel on Avianca, and can be in economy or business class

Avianca’s 787 business class

As you can see, on the premium version of the card there are some benefits that can be worthwhile if you do fly Avianca frequently to/from Latin America. Those perks are of limited use for those who are using LifeMiles as a program for earning Star Alliance miles, but they are useful for travel on Avianca.

Getting approved for Avianca LifeMiles Cards

These credit cards are issued by Puerto Rico-based Banco Popular, which seems to be a quirky card issuer. There are lots of reports of Banco Popular issuing big credit limits for their cards, often $25,000.

I’ve heard mixed reports regarding getting approved for their cards. Some get approved with no issue whatsoever, while I’ve also gotten data points of people getting denied with very high credit scores. So if you have any data points here, that would be useful.

Furthermore, note that Banco Popular only seems to let you apply for one of these cards. So if you have or have had one of these cards, don’t expect you’ll be approved for the other.

Which Version Of The LifeMiles Card Is Better?

If you’re trying to decide between these two cards, I think it’s almost a no brainer to get the Avianca Vuela Visa Card. The card’s annual fee is $90 higher, but:

  • It offers a welcome bonus that’s 20,000 miles better
  • It offers an extra mile per dollar on gas station and grocery store purchases
  • It has no foreign transaction fees
  • It offers useful perks for travel on Avianca, like an extra checked bag, and the potential to earn discounted award redemptions on Avianca in conjunction with spend

Redeem LifeMiles for travel in Lufthansa first class

Best Credit Card Alternatives

The good news is that if your goal is to earn Avianca LifeMiles, there are several cards that are worth considering. Avianca LifeMiles is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One.

In the case of Amex and Citi, points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, while in the case of Capital One, points transfer at a 2:1.5 ratio.

So there are several cards that you might want to consider in place of this that can also earn you LifeMiles at a faster rate:

So if you are looking to earn LifeMiles, it could make the most sense to get a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, where you earn the equivalent of 1.5 LifeMiles per dollar spent.

Bottom Line

The premium card can be worth it for the perks that it offers for travel on Avianca. However, that’s only useful for travel on Avianca, and not if you’re primarily using LifeMiles for the purposes of Star Alliance redemptions.

Long term if you want to earn LifeMiles for Star Alliance redemptions, it could make sense to earn Amex, Capital One, or Citi points, and then transfer them to LifeMiles.

I’d say the one exception is if you’d get value out of putting spend on the premium version of the card in order to earn 50% off redemption vouchers.

If you have either of the Avianca Cards, what has your experience been like?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
  1. I applied to the Vuela Visa card when you reported on the 60,000 bonus about 3 months ago and was instantly accepted. However, although Banco Popular claims that the 60,000 miles were credited on December 13, they haven’t shown up on my LifeMiles account, almost 9 weeks later.

  2. I have applied twice and twice rejected. The stated reason by Banco Popular is that they cannot verify who I am!!! In the meantime have applied and obtained credit cards from AMEX and Citibank without issue. Also, been a member of LifeMiles for years and have scored many business class seats using their purchased miles through InsideFlyer.

  3. Even after you get approved and receive the card, they have issues believing you are who you are. You’ll have to go through a tedious and very frustrating IDying process which involves sending photo copy of your DL. Then, they make you wait a few weeks until everything gets verified by their fraud department, which I honestly believe is staffed by 1 single personnel. It came pretty close to canceling my account even before my first purchase.

  4. Was anyone able to book any award flights recently using LifeMiles? I had no luck since the website was changed last week. I am able to search and select flights, but I get an error message when clicking enter traveler info.

  5. The actual credit card works as expected most of the time. The bank shuts down the card frequently due to “fraud detection”. I attempted to pay for the charges associated with the Vietnam visa on arrival and the charge was declined and the card was shut down, as an example. Annoying…

  6. @lucky Do you think they’ll ring back the extra 20k miles promo anytime this year? Thanks for writing this article! I am currently considering whether to get this card.

  7. They really ought to rename LifeMiles to “Fiasco”. Their old website was a disaster, their new website is even more of a disaster, and their credit card is issued by a bank that seems to make ample use of a random number generator in its credit decisions.

    What a joke.

  8. Same boat as everyone else. Don’t expect to receive your bonus anytime soon. I completed my minimum spend for the statement ending in November and still have yet to receive ANY miles, much less the bonus.

    The bank will not even investigate the issue until at least 8 weeks after the statement closing date. They can then kick off a claims process that takes between 60-90 days to investigate. Yes, that’s not a joke. At least the frontline reps have been very pleasant.

  9. Here is my experience – there was fraudulent activity on the card ($1000 western union)….. I was never alerted. As I wasn’t using the card I didn’t notice. 3 months later I try to use the card and it’s blocked. I call fraud, report situation. Drains did nothing, they did not drop the charge and did not initiate an investigation. Then I started getting calls from their collections department who don’t communicate with fraud…. interest continued to accumulate and I watched my credit score drop from 850 to 650. Finally someone with a functioning brain cell realized this was not right and 6 months in initiated a fraud investigation but not before claiming I was outside the window to claim fraudulent activity until I pitched a fit. Meanwhile a second card (replacement) had been issued which I never received and I start getting 2 state MRS every month, interest still accumulating, credit score getting worse – it took 9 months for these idiots to communicate department to department and don’t get me going about trying to get them to reverse the negative impact on my credit score. Banco Popular are a hot mess, the phone tree doesn’t work, nobody knows what they are doing and they could care less about any issues you have – 12 months in the assured me I have no active account and my credit score restored (it bumped up 20 points)….. my advice is to stay the heck away from this disasterous bank and their products or you can look forward to what I went through

  10. Have to agree with the above posters…this is an extremely poorly run bank, and their credit card department is incompetent at best. I got my card, but then they froze it because they “needed proof of my identity.” Completely stupid.

  11. Reading the comments here, BP is quite clearly a Dumpster Fire of a bank, and many people who apply for these cards are going to greatly regret it. I really think this post should have contained more of a warning about the potential perils of applying for them. The reason it didn’t should be obvious to all long time readers.

    Yes… I’ve finally become one of “those posters”, who carp about prospective profits over candor. First rule of a honest travel blogger should be “do no harm”. 😉

    Especially love the picture of the LH FC cabin, as I’m guessing that anyone who needs to book more than a week or so in advance has the same chance of getting that award as they have of winning their State lottery. But I do feel sorry for any nooby readers who see that photo, and naively think all they need to do is get one of these cards, and spend a bit on it, and soon they will be flying LH FC. 🙁

  12. @Tahsin. Same issue here but if you call in, they will book for you. Happened last week but after calling, flight was booked within 10 mins.

  13. I think that’s the biggest issue, LifeMiles new website simply does not work. And if you can’t book with them what good is the any of this?

  14. I got the card and the miles, and used it without any problem, about three years back, but then found “sold out” whenever I tried to book any awards, and that was on the old site which people are saying was bad, but better than now. I kept persisting, looking there first whenever I wanted to book any award, and after a couple of dozen failures, I finally was able to use up the miles. I won’t be going back until I see solid evidence the program has improved a lot. It think it mostly exists as a “buy miles” operation, doesn’t it?

  15. I was denied on one application and several months later I was approved. The 60K showed up quickly. I have used them mostly for cheaper United flights in the US. Their website did fail on me one time and when my son calls me saying his flight was never booked, I had to buy his seat outright to get him to meet up with my wife and I. Not sure what happened as I had record locators for the ticket. The old site was very buggy. I have not tried the new site.

  16. @JohnH: Thanks for that comment. I had idly considered applying for one of these cards a while back, and now I’m very glad I didn’t.

  17. BP is a mess of a bank. Asked for everything except my first born before they approved me. Circled the bowl for weeks with them requesting an absurd amount of information: bank statements, DL, W-2s, tax returns. It was all ridiculous. They probably sold it all on the black market for all I know. I ended up getting 60k miles after a single purchase because I had a code. I would say avoid it like the plague unless you get a 60k code. Just not worth all the trouble except for a monster bonus with little effort.

  18. It seems like it is not longer possible to apply for these cards at all? The link does not work for me nor does googling the card name. Is this because I am in the UK or is it totally inaccessible?

  19. It’s not working there application process, says can’t Varify my identity, tried for several ppl and all the same results. Any suggestions?

  20. I’ve had this card for a couple of years and have gotten my annual fee waived each time when I say I’m going to cancel. But, it seems like maybe only one person can do the cancelling. Took me two weeks to finally get ahold of someone. They were either always gone for the day no matter when I called. And they never call you back.

  21. Echo “hot mess”.., also had fraud, not alerted, monthly scheduled payments didn’t work, noticed my credit score tanking – phone tree disaster, departments don’t communicate – (fraud/collections)….9 months of b.s. with multiple attempts to close card! I still get statements one year on, although they claim card closed. “Buyer beware”, AYOR….don’t get me going on Lifemiles now. Why bother???

  22. I had this card previously and would not recommend it. I had the hardest time cancelling this card. I don’t remember the details, but I was caught in a circle in their phone system where I was unable to get it cancelled. Major headache!

  23. I personally do not see what the draw is to Lifemiles. We have searched high and low and never ever ever EVER see any reward space to Europe. I actually more space available from AA (and that’s saying a lot!!). I’ve seen a few spaces for short flights to/from Bogota, but it’s very minimal. I see zilch available within the US either. I simply do not see what the draw is to this program.

  24. So, I tried the application but no mention of the 60,000 miles with that code. I didn’t complete it as I like to see and take a screenshot of the actual offer.

  25. I have written about this before — but for the sake of the all the newer readers to the blog — I will write again.

    (1) I purchased nearly 400,000 LifeMiles at a similar promotion in 2015. The awards chart had just devalued and at the time miles did not expire (they do now), so I figured I had several years to figure out what to do with them. At the time, their redemption website was *very hard* to use. I consider it significantly better today (I redeemed two business class tickets between New York and Athens — outbound on LH and coming back on Swiss in May.) The bottom line is that — unless you get lucky — and you can — you have to be prepared to wait for a business or first class seat to open up within two weeks of departure. If, for example, you need two seats (as I did because I was escorting my 81 year old mother), and you’re given a choice of one seat at two different times — pick the most inconvenient time (i.e. 6:30 am departure) to increase the likelihood that within two weeks before departure another seat on that same flight will open up (because there are fees for changing flights even on the same day). ALSO, keep in mind that the routing can be sub-optimal. I flew New York-Frankfurt-Munich-Athens with my mother — but at least it was in business class. Imagine taking your 81 year old mother on 4 airplane flights (the 4th flight was to Crete) in one 24 hour period! (They also couldn’t get me to Crete — so I went to Athens and paid for the final ticket with cash on Aegean.) I also want to put in a good word for the LifeMiles staff available on their number through extension 3. Their English is solid and they are very friendly and helpful — a far cry from the circumstances that used to exist in 205, 2016, 2017 and perhaps even part of 2018.

    (2) Banco Popular: NEVER AGAIN! They caused me so much grief. Do NOT be seduced by the 60,000 mile bonus. It is not worth the pain and torture. We are so *spoiled* by the call center staffs of continental American (48 states) banks. They do not speak English. They make promises they do not keep. They do not know what they are doing. They won’t hesitate to ding your credit rating if they can. Very unprofessional. An exercise in frustration. And in my case, it was over something silly like $35. I dropped the card just before the first anniversary (something I am actually not in the habit of doing) because of all the problems. And today, 15 months later, my credit score has gotten better but has still not recovered to over 800.

  26. Can’t get the application or bonus code to work. Based upon some of the comments above, perhaps its for the best.


  28. “WE ARE SORRY. Unfortunately, you are not able to apply at this time, we were not able to validate the information you provided.” 850 credit score. Screw em!

  29. FYI
    I opened the Vuela last year and it took the second statement period to get my 60k bonus. I opened the Vida recently with the current promotion, and it posted the 40k bonus after 1st statement closing (a few days after receiving my card).

  30. Applied 9.2018. Denied and can’t recall reason.

    Applied 9.2019. Instant approval ~$13k. Think top 5ish limit.

    At the end of app, received temp# to use right away. 0-1 on this.

    Pulled Eq in NY. Eq FICO ~800.

    Waiting for physical card to arrive. Been warming up my legs in anticipation of the hoops banco will throw my way.

  31. Did the full 60,000 miles post in two separate statement periods for anyone (like 40K then the bonus 20K in a subsequent statement)? I wrote the LifeMiles and they replied very promptly asking me from which specific Avianca or LifeMiles website or correspondence did i get the bonus code, and I couldn’t find one. Only from this and other blog websites.

  32. I was hesitant to apply because of all the negative feedback, but I find Lifemiles very useful for short United flights. So I crossed my fingers, applied and was instantly approved. I hit the $1,000 spend before the 2nd statement closed and the 60k points showed up in my account a few days after the 2nd statement closed. Their website isn’t great but I use the Spanish version – not sure if that one is better but I have not had issues – I get using the Spanish version is not an option for everyone.

  33. I was approved, then had the account closed by someone in the fraud department and received a letter that said they had the right to “unilaterally” close my account with no reason. I’ve had numerous cards paid off every month and no issues. They had the audacity to charge me the annual fee and force me to wait on hold to get it taken off.

  34. My experience with the Vuela 50% off on a Avianca ticket was just horrible. Every time I called, Life Miles was looking for an excuse not to redeem the offer. The communication between LifeMiles and Banco Popular was the issue. Even though the Banco Popular had all my Bank statements and could of easily sent them to Life miles, they did not or Life Miles would not accept them from the bank. Life Miles made me scan all my bank statements, including my passport, and email them to Life Miles. This entire process of calling, emails, and scanning took three months to resolve. What an operation!



  35. Pretty hilarious experience applying for this card!!
    Hadn’t made any applications in over a year, unfroze my TU file which had 599 score which was higher than the others. Around Thanksgiving applied – they pulled the TU and approved me instantly with $10500 limit, which is near the top end of my 10 or so other cards – felt pretty good!! Received a virtual card and number I “could use right away.” Tried that on a few sites and it never worked, figured it could be since I am outside the US and decided to wait for the physical card to arrive. Family in the US received the card and forwarded the number to me on 8 Dec and I activated the physical card successfully over the phone that day. Tried to use that card number on some non-suspicious websites (ie. Amazon) and still always declined. I figured I would just try using the physical card next time I am in the US. Well today my family received a letter from Fraud Risk Control Dept dated 5th (!!) December that says my card and account will “be closed without cause” as of that date. I am not very creditworthy but it seems like Popular is just approving anyone and asking questions/actually reviewing the applicant later – at least reject me outright like BofA did for the VS card today!

  36. I was previously denied approval for this card under a similar bonus offer after jumping through multiple hoops. This time I was approved immediately online, but now I’m reading the last few comments and I wonder if it’ll just get pulled later? Oh well, only time will tell. Happy New Year

  37. Worst card I’ve had. Cancelling it was a nightmare and customer service was terrible. There are plenty of other good cards out there.

  38. I had a horrible experience with this card. Banco Popular is a completely incompetent institution, and I had all sorts of trouble getting bills, getting online to view and pay my bills, speaking to people to get the problems sorted away, etc. I got my miles, but they were not worth the major hassle of dealing with this bank. I cancelled the card after 4 months. Unless you are desperate for the miles and value your own time at near zero, the Avianca Card is simply not worth it.

  39. I had a horrible experience with this card. Banco Popular is a completely incompetent institution, and I had all sorts of trouble getting bills, getting online to view and pay my bills, speaking to people to get the problems sorted away, etc. I got my miles, but they were not worth the major hassle of dealing with this bank. I cancelled the card after 4 months. Unless you are desperate for the miles and value your own time at near zero, the Avianca Card is simply not worth it.

  40. You’ll ignore this like you always do but instead of telling us to apply for a credit card to pad your pocket would you mind telling us how to actually use these miles? Their website is useless. Do you call them?

  41. @allie – don’t expect a response. All he wants is applications to get useless miles. He has no intention of actually answering people’s questions.

    My take – cancel it.

  42. I’ve tried applying through your link several times today and each time I get this message “Unfortunately, you are not able to apply at this time, we were not able to validate the information you provided.”.
    Any idea what’s going on?

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