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.
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:
- The Avianca Vida Visa Card offers a welcome bonus of 20,000 bonus miles after first use within 90 days
- The Avianca Vuela Visa Card offers a welcome bonus of 40,000 bonus miles after first use within 90 days
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.
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:
- The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (review) earns unlimited 2x Venture miles per dollar spent; the card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year
- The Citi Premier℠ Card offers 3x points on travel and gas, and 2x points on dining and entertainment; the card has a $95 annual fee
- The Citi Prestige® Card offers 5x points on air travel and restaurants, and 3x points on hotels and cruise lines; the card has a $495 annual, though offers a $250 travel credit every calendar year that helps offset it
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) has a $550 annual fee (Rates & Fees) and offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines
- The American Express® Gold Card (review) has a $250 annual fee (Rates & Fees) and offers 4x points at restaurants globally, 4x points at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spend per calendar year), 3x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines, a $100 annual airline fee credit, and an annual dining credit of up to $120
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.
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).