Extended: Buy LifeMiles With A 165% Bonus (1.25 Cents Each)

Filed Under: AviancaTaca, Great Deals
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A couple of weeks ago LifeMiles launched its first promotion of 2021 on purchased miles. This promotion was supposed to expire yesterday, but I’ve just been informed that this promotion has been extended by several more days.

OMAAT LifeMiles promotion details

LifeMiles’ current promotion on purchased miles is now valid through Tuesday, March 2, 2021::

  • The publicly available promo is for up to a 150% bonus
  • The special OMAAT promo is for up to a 165% bonus

OMAAT readers can register with their LifeMiles number here, and will then be eligible to purchase miles with the additional bonus. Members can purchase anywhere from 1,000 to 200,000 miles (pre-bonus) with a 165% bonus.

One of the things that makes this promotion special is that you can receive the 165% bonus even if you purchase just 1,000 miles, while in the past many promotions required purchasing larger quantities of miles to unlock the biggest bonus.

LifeMiles ordinarily sells miles for ~3.3 cents each, so if you buy miles with a 165% bonus you’ll be paying just 1.25 cents per purchased mile, which is a solid value. With this promotion you could buy a maximum of 530,000 LifeMiles for $6,600.

Buying LifeMiles counts as an airfare purchase

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

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
American Express® Green 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

If you pay with The Platinum Card® from American Express then you earn 5x points. I value those points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, that’s the equivalent of a further 8.5% return. That means that the real cost of each mile goes down from 1.25 cents to 1.14 cents, which is an even better value (this isn’t cash in your pocket, but rather points in your “pocket” based on my valuation).

Should you buy LifeMiles?

First let me address this topic more generally. Avianca is in the Star Alliance, which means you can redeem LifeMiles on all Star Alliance airlines (which is what makes the program so great). To give a few examples of one-way premium cabin redemption rates (there are no fuel surcharges on any awards):

  • US to Europe in business class costs 63,000 miles
  • US to Europe in first class costs 87,000 miles
  • US to Southeast Asia in business class costs 78,000 miles
  • US to North Asia in first class costs 90,000 miles

Sometimes LifeMiles has promotions where redemption rates are even better than that.

With a specific use in mind, this LifeMiles promotion can be a great value, whether you’re looking at traveling first class on All Nippon Airways or Lufthansa, or are looking at traveling in business class on a countless number of airlines.

I recently redeemed LifeMiles for ANA first class

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

Do note that in some cases LifeMiles doesn’t have access to the same award availability as Star Alliance partners, for better or worse. In some cases LifeMiles doesn’t have access to partner awards that other airlines do have access to, and in other cases the inverse is true.

That’s why I always recommend doing some “dummy” award searches before buying miles, so you can get a sense of how award availability lines up with your needs.

I recently redeemed LifeMiles for Lufthansa business class

But isn’t Avianca in Chapter 11?

In May 2020, Avianca filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, so what does that mean for LifeMiles? It’s worth noting that the LifeMiles frequent flyer program is a separate company (even though the program is majority owned by the airline), and LifeMiles isn’t part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

I’ve written in the past about what happens to airline miles if an airline goes bankrupt, so as it applies here:

  • For now it should be business as usual for earning and redeeming LifeMiles
  • In the event that Avianca didn’t emerge from bankruptcy, it’s possible that the LifeMiles program would still live on in Latin America, given how popular it is, and given that it’s spun off
  • However, if that were to happen, don’t expect that LifeMiles would still have access to Star Alliance award space, since the program would no longer be associated with a Star Alliance airline

More specific to Avianca’s situation, the airline has received a loan worth hundreds of millions of dollars, so the way I view it, the airline isn’t in serious risk of going out of business anytime in the next few months. Of course things can always change, but that’s where things stand as of now.

Obviously there’s some risk here with buying miles, as there always is, especially with no immediate use in mind.

Bottom line

LifeMiles is offering a 165% bonus on purchased miles exclusively for OMAAT readers (registration required here), compared to the publicly available bonus of 150%. Best of all, the 165% bonus applies regardless of the quantity of miles you buy, so there’s no need to buy a huge quantity to get that bonus.

It’s important to note that we did see a couple of 200% bonuses over the past few months, which were the best bonuses we’ve ever seen from LifeMiles. Other than that, this is just about as good as bonuses on purchased LifeMiles get, and it’s my understanding that the program doesn’t have plans to offer any more of the 200% bonuses in the near future.

Acquiring LifeMiles for 1.25 cents each is potentially a great deal, especially when you factor in the credit card rewards, which could lower the real cost even further.

My general take is that I wouldn’t buy miles unless you have a use for them in the next few months. That being said, if you do have a use for them, this is a great deal.

Everyone will have to decide for themselves. There’s risk, miles can always devalue, etc., but this is a solid deal. And for the record, I don’t get any sort of a kickback if you buy miles here.

If you’ve been considering this promotion but haven’t yet made a purchase, you have until next Tuesday to do so.

Do you plan on buying LifeMiles with a 165% bonus?

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  1. @Lucky – does acquiring and buying LifeMiles still extend the expiration of them by another year? Asking for a friend 🙂

  2. @Lucky – how many LM can you purchase per year? I have good use cases for them but unfortunately when the 200% bonus came along I could not use it because I had exceeded my annual purchase limit. Secondly – would you see any way around this (similarly to Hilton) – buying on another account and then consolidating? Do you have experience with this? I know the article mentions no plan for 200% in near future but I’d hope to see at least one of these this year.

  3. I’m highly considering to buy this and combining with transferring some citi thank you points thats offering 25% transfer bonus to lifemiles until 2/18 to book several business class tickets to India at 78k lifemiles each way. This decision is compared to instead transfering the thankyou points to Turkish miles and smiles program that charges 52.5k miles for the same business class ticket but only way to avoid any fuel surcharges is on the United nonstop flights of which there are just 5 from the US (EWR-DEL, EWR-BOM, ORD-DEL, SFO-DEL, and SFO-BLR)

  4. @Lucky Curious if there was any more information on why you think they do not have plans to offer the 200% bonus in the near future

  5. Without 200% bonus I don’t see myself buying them in foreseeable future either. I’ll transfer from TYP.

  6. Searched yesterday for about an hour, literally couldn’t find a single award redemption from US to Europe in December

  7. Done with LM and Avianca. I have been with them for 12 years. Their customer service has totally collapsed. They cancelled my nonstop to Mia from El Sal to a stopover in Managua. Since I purchased my flight as a RT and not 2 separate bookings they refused to credit the miles back to my LM account. In the past 2 years they have inconvenienced me too often. Time to cut my losses.

  8. Before buying points try calling Avianca on the phone.
    The odds of reaching an agent in less than two hours are just about zero.
    Then the agent will be incompetent.
    Lower redemption rates and discounts points do not justify finding yourself stranded at the airport if an issue surfaces at check in on Star Alliance partner ticket.

    Been There , Done That

    Never again

  9. Do not buy. Even after two hours or three and several emails to support lifelines in order to redeem miles could be a surprise that they reserve your ticket with a partner airlines send the pdf confirmation to you showing ticketed but never actually ticketed. Google more and your find out .
    Booked business class tickets and Turkish airlines did not let me fly because Avianca never confirmed the ticket . They took my money for the miles and the taxes and fees for the ticket and did not returned . Please be careful

  10. @Alex
    The scenario you outline, and similar, is a glitch for the unwary peculiar to LifeMiles.
    I ALWAYS request LM to email me the Electronic Ticket for the booked flight if they haven’t sent it within a reasonable time. They always oblige, usually within 48 hours.
    As an extra layer of diligence I always log in and confirm the reservation on the partner airlines site (and choose a seat at the same time). This also has the effect of placing your email address in that airlines booking system for direct notification of time/date/ seating changes which inevitably occur if you flight is a long way out.
    LM is good value, but when things go wrong one’s frustration levels go through the roof dealing with their Support people by phone and email. You may be lucky and get a ‘can-do’ person, or get a dunce who knows nothing and gives wrong information. That’s when you HUCA!

  11. Thanks! Always love this deal. Bought half, transferred half from Amex and got LH J LA to Europe for ~300$ + 32k miles.

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