Buy LifeMiles For Under 1.5 Cents Each

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Avianca’s LifeMiles program is back with their latest bonus on purchased miles, which is valid through December 18, 2015.


LifeMiles is offering:

  • 2x miles if you purchase 2,000-40,000 miles
  • 2.15x miles if you purchase 41,000-100,000 miles (additional 15% bonus)
  • 2.25x miles if you purchase 101,000-150,000 miles (additional 25% bonus)


Furthermore, for this promotion they’ve increased the purchase limit to 375,000 LifeMiles.

LifeMiles ordinarily cost 3.3 cents each to purchase, so if you purchase at least 101,000 miles during this promotion (pre-bonus) you can buy LifeMiles ~1.47 cents each, when factoring in the 125% bonus.


For a bit of context on how this compares to past promotions on the purchase of LifeMiles:

It’s interesting, because for a couple of years LifeMiles almost exclusively “only” offered a 100% bonus on purchased and shared LifeMiles. Then in September 2014 they raised the cost of purchased LifeMiles by 10%, and ever since they’ve been consistently offering even bigger bonuses on the purchase of miles.

And I think with just about any devaluation that reflects the direction the industry is headed. Airlines devalue and increase the cost of rewards, but they also increase your purchasing power, so we’re not really much worse off. At least that’s true for areas in which the programs can monetize (in other words, not really when it comes to issuing miles for flying, for example).

As you can see above, this promotion is pretty “average” as far as recent LifeMiles bonuses go. I’d be deciding which promotion to take advantage of based on when you’ll actually be able to redeem the miles, as opposed to when they’re marginally less expensive to purchase.

Should you buy LifeMiles?

LifeMiles are simultaneously my favorite and least favorite mileage currency. The things I love about LifeMiles include:

And then there are things I hate with a passion about LifeMiles:

  • Their call center is horrible, so if your redemption requires servicing over the phone, you might as well forget about it
  • They don’t allow mixed cabin awards, meaning if you book a business class award all segments have to be in business class
  • They block quite a bit of Star Alliance award space, including Lufthansa first class space

Still, given United’s early 2014 award chart devaluation and US Airways no longer being in the Star Alliance (or existing at all, for that matter) there aren’t many ways to economically book premium cabin Star Alliance awards anymore. LifeMiles is one of the best programs for those awards, even with the higher cost to purchase miles and devalued award chart.

With a specific use in mind, this promotion can be an incredible value.

For example, LifeMiles charges 90,000 miles for first class between the US and much of Asia, so at 1.47 cents per mile, that’s like paying ~$1,320 for a one-way first class ticket between the US and Asia on ANA or Asiana.


Asiana A380 first class

ANA 777-300ER first class

Of course everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves and decide whether this makes sense or not.

Buying LifeMiles counts as an airfare purchase

It’s worth noting that LifeMiles processes mileage purchases directly, meaning that buying miles with them qualifies as airfare spend. Therefore you’ll want to consider using one of the following cards for your purchase, since they offer the following bonus miles for airfare spend:

CardPoints earned on airfare spend
The Platinum Card® from American Express5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
Citi Prestige Card5x ThankYou points per dollar spent
American Express® Gold Card3x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
Chase Sapphire Reserve®3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent
Citi Premier℠ Card3x ThankYou points per dollar spent
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card2x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent

Bottom line

Ultimately acquiring LifeMiles for ~1.47 cents each is quite a good deal. I suppose the catch is the quantity you have to buy to get that price, as $3,300+ isn’t an insignificant amount to spend on miles.

As I always say, everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves as to whether or not this makes sense. There are great values to be had, though I also wouldn’t be hoarding points.

There are quite a few nice promos on the purchase of miles, as Alaska Mileage Plan and American AAdvantage are also running sales.

Do you plan on buying LifeMiles with up to a 125% bonus?

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  1. Potentially a better deal than yesterday’s Gilt promotion even.

    I’ve been sharing your blog with my parents as they’ve always been amazed with how we always seem to fly in J or F when we go int’l or why Delta puts me in first on half my domestic flights (sadly as a new parent I dont see any long haul int’l travel in the near future). I convinced them a few weeks back to open lifemiles accounts so i think they’ll be taking advantage of this. They’re hoping to go to Japan and Korea ‘sometime’ next year.

  2. It seems all the airlines are offering these “deals” to buy miles as they continue to claw back program benefits and award space availability. It begins to feel more like a scam than an offer.

  3. Just a point to note – if you have the US Bank LifeMiles credit card, they offer a monthly promo to triple your mileage earnings from credit card spend at only 1.4c/mile. That is consistently the best price offered (subject to you actually having and using the LifeMiles card, which tends to be pretty useless even to buy Avianca tickets since it charges a foreign transaction fee).

  4. Hi Lucky, I’ve been checking your blog and there’s so much information, thanks for sharing all you knowledge. I have been collecting Lifemiles and United miles so this offer seems wonderful for a trip to Japan I’ve been dreaming off.

    My first question is: should I redeem miles to fly there or should I actually buy the tickets instead? So far I have enough miles on each program for a one-way trip between Europe and Tokyo (I am currently based in France).

    Then my next question: if it is not profitable to spend those miles on a ticket, is it better to keep collecting them? Or maybe try to swap them to the same program and used them at a later time?

    I would love to suggest something, unfortunately I think I’m not the only one non-us citizen following your blog, so I was wondering if you have knowledge on how to earn miles with cards for Europeans.

    Thanks for your time!

  5. Lucky
    I just traveled ATL to ICN and then ICN to JFK via Korea Air using 80,000 miles each way, On the ICN to JFK the plane was the 777 with the new F class seats which are awesome

    With life miles I would need to use 90,000 miles which is not much higher than Korean Air


    1 Have you flown the new F seats on Korean if yes how do they compare to Ana or Asiana.
    2. Is Asiana and Ana as easiest to get F class as with Korean Air



  6. Hi Ben! Thanks for the info, in terms of redemption for this is there a minimum percentage of earned (not purchased) miles that needs to be used or can we redeem award flights purely off of buying miles?

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