Buy LifeMiles With A 175% Bonus (1.2 Cents Each)

Filed Under: AviancaTaca, Great Deals
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LifeMiles has just launched its latest promotion on purchased miles, which potentially represents an excellent deal if you’re planning any Star Alliance travel in the coming months. There’s even an exclusive offer for OMAAT readers, which is significantly better than the publicly available bonus.

OMAAT LifeMiles promotion details

Through Tuesday, June 1, 2021, LifeMiles is offering a bonus on purchased miles. While the promotion for most members offers a bonus of up to 160%, OMAAT readers exclusively have access to a bonus of up to 175%. (others are of course welcome to use/promote this offer as well). The OMAAT bonus is tiered, as follows:

  • Buy 1,000-15,000 miles, get a 160% bonus
  • Buy 16,000-50,000 miles, get a 170% bonus
  • Buy 51,000-200,000 miles, get a 175% bonus

OMAAT readers can register with their LifeMiles number here, and will then be eligible to purchase miles with the additional bonus. Miles typically post to your account instantly.

LifeMiles ordinarily sells miles for ~3.3 cents each, so if you max out this bonus and purchase miles with a 175% bonus you’ll be paying just 1.2 cents per purchased mile, which is an excellent value. With this promotion you could buy a maximum of 550,000 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 1.2 cents to 1.1 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 (this is a large part of 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’ve 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. Sometimes LifeMiles doesn’t have access to partner awards that other airlines do have access to, and other times 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’ve 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 OMAAT readers up to a 175% bonus on purchased miles (registration required here), compared to the publicly available bonus of up to 160%.

Acquiring LifeMiles for 1.2 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 an exceptionally good deal. As many people start to plan travel again, opportunities like these are worth considering.

Everyone will have to decide for themselves. There’s risk, miles can always devalue, etc., but this is a solid deal. Personally I plan on buying some miles with this offer, since my LifeMiles balance is low at the moment. And for the record, I don’t get any sort of a kickback if you buy miles here.

Do you plan on buying LifeMiles with up to a 175% bonus?

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  1. Thinking to buy some lifemiles and combine with transferring some Amex points with the 15% bonus to book business class seats to India for later this year if it can proceed by then. But with the current situation there only concern is if we end up having to cancel getting stuck with paying high cancellation fees if imposed by Avianca.

  2. A coincidence that this was announced just a day after the 15% AMEX transfer bonus? A bit glad that I didn’t do a transfer yesterday.

    But I will say that the award availability for Lifemiles is VERY inconsistent and oftentimes it is for LESS availability especially for premium cabins. Am trying to book tickets back from Europe and while I found availability on UA and LH, Lifemiles did not show this availability. (At least I found an alternative that works but this is still frustrating) The only reason to use this program is if one already has existing points in the program and needs to “top off” to get rid of the points with a booking or if by luck/coincidence, Lifemiles has an itinerary that works for you.

  3. Lucky, can you purchase tickets for other with Lifemiles, even if you are not traveling?

  4. @Gabe Yes you can book for anyone. I’ve booked for my family members and friends multiple times.

  5. I believe that LifeMiles are reinstating their miles expiration clock on 6/31. If so, I need some activity to reset the expiration date on my miles.

    Have you heard anything about them extending the expiration dates automatically as a pandemic courtesy?

  6. Be careful buying Lifemiles, they blocked my account with 300000 miles because of a new bank card. I called the support that was 1.5 waiting on the line. They requested photos of documents, bank statement and so on. I sent everything and waited for 3 weeks with no results.

  7. Double check the bonus amount before purchasing. I had to play with the link before I saw the extra OMAAT bonus in the cart. This was a good deal for me. I bought the minimum to reset the expiration date.

  8. I’ve used Ben’s link a couple of times when the bonuses were available. Thanks Ben! I have had some great success booking with LifeMiles, including TG F. But I’ve had frustrations also. Do your research to manage your expectations. I am headed to Europe next week from the eastern US. While KVS showed C/J award availability from several *A airlines, LifeMiles did not have access to those awards. But once in Europe (and S. America) also, LifeMiles has been very useful. Do not expect great customer service – e-mails take days to return; phone calls and WhatsApp has mixed results. Finally, there is no flexibility re: changes – fairly expensive, so you need to be certain of your travel plans.

  9. Does buying LifeMiles reset your expiration date? I had some LifeMiles re-deposited post COVID, and are set to expire next month.

    Any other ways (other than buying new LifeMiles) to extend expiration?

  10. @Quincy
    Buy as few as 1000 new miles to reset your expiry a further 12 months from purchase date. Don’t faff around looking for “other ways” to extend; purchased miles credit immediately, as does your new date.
    Other readers should note that re-deposited miles have no positive effect on your expiry date; that is, they alone will NOT extend it.

  11. Um.

    I just bought miles. The expiration date has not extended. Still says Sept 30, 2021.

    Here’s hoping it’s a short delay?

  12. Hi, I’m getting a message saying 2 for 1 on miles purchase despite successfully registering. I have followed the OMAAT link above to register. Anyone else having the same issue?

  13. @ Haroon — While the promotion page might say two for one, what’s the actual bonus shown when you try to make a purchase? It always displays the bonus miles separately from the “base” miles, so does it only show a 100% bonus, or is the correct bonus actually reflected? For what it’s worth, it’s working fine for me when I follow the link.

  14. As Ben says you need to go all the way to the purchase page where it will list the base amount plus the bonuses. The totalled amount is what you’ll receive.

  15. Anyone else seeing a blank calendar when searching award availability on Am I doing something wrong? Browser issue?

  16. 21 hours ago I bought some miles with this great bonus (thanks, Lucky!), I got a popup saying that my request had successfully been received, that they are completing the transaction, that in the next hours I’d be charged and the miles deposited and an email would be sent to me.

    None of the above have occurred; nor my card has been charged nor those miles have come to my account…

    Any of you with such a delay?

  17. @Chris This has been a persistent issue with Lifemiles regardless of browser. Even some nonstop flights that show up on United or Aeroplan don’t show up on Lifemiles (for example the ANA flight between HND and IAH). For some reason, the Lifemiles engine hates HND airport.

    What I suggest doing is searching for award availability using other programs (the United and Aeroplan engines tend to do a good job finding available routings), then see if Lifemiles shows each segment when searched individually. Then you can email Lifemiles with screenshots of the individual legs and request to put them together. I have an email template that I can share with you if you want (I found out that you need to phrase your request in a certain way or else they’ll waste your time with bs).

    To get Lifemiles to show nonstop flights, try to toggle between Smart Search and the specific airline. If that still doesn’t work, I don’t know what to do other than finding a different routing that doesn’t use that leg. Good luck with your search!

  18. @sudaca – I received the same message. It took about 24 – 36 hours to process the card and for the miles to show up. It’s a very clunky process, but the US to EU business class deals are the cheapest I’ve found anywhere.

  19. Thinking of taking the plunge… but concerned about hitting a wall on the total number of points you can buy in a year… should I be concerned?

  20. @Fernando Flores
    I wouldn’t be too concerned about hitting your annual purchase limit since this current offer is one of the best you’ll see from LM this year.
    Don’t forget you can book LM awards with miles and a cash component if you want to preserve miles for later travel.
    Nearly half 2021 has gone, so only 7 months or so before you can buy more!
    Personally I spread my miles purchases over a number of programs spanning all alliances and a few independents so never have this issue.

  21. Purchased earlier today and miles still are not posting.
    I see some posts above about delay in CC transaction. My card was already billed
    Anyone have any experience with how much longer it’ll take to post?

  22. Following up on the miles not posting to the account.

    I reviewed the purchase with lifemiles. Here is how the T&C read “The purchase of miles is non reversable and non refundable. The purchase of miles is an immediate execution contract. Once the payment is made, the miles will be accrued immediately on your account. As of that moment the miles can be used according to the terms and conditions of the LifeMiles program.”

    I called LifeMiles, they said they cannot do anything about it. That the transaction is showing in my account, however, it might take up to 24 hours to post.


  23. I say buyer beware with lifemiles: The LifeMiles website has never been easy to use but until recently I was able to pay for the taxes etc. for redemption with no problem with U.S. credit card as late as March of 2020 booking a flight Washington-Bogota. Last month I tried to book a simple Cartagena-Bogota flight with miles and paying taxes of $31 with Amex, BOA and various other cards but no luck. Customer service was also unuseful as eventually after jumping through many hoops (enter your pin number) 3 or 4 credit cards were declined as well as my sister-in-law’s Colombian credit card. A call to AMEX revealed what I had suspected,. AMEX never declined any transaction with LifeMiles. I tried again to day to book a flight to Europe and the same thing, declined, hours of waiting on call center and then being told to go to the beginning.

    While you show great redemption, if Avianca has made it almost impossible to use the life miles and is selling them at the same time, SCAM. Buyer beware.

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