Banco Popular Closing Avianca LifeMiles Credit Cards

Banco Popular Closing Avianca LifeMiles Credit Cards

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It has just been announced that Avianca LifeMiles’ United States credit card is being discontinued. I’m curious to see if LifeMiles will partner with a different bank, or what exactly is going on.

Avianca LifeMiles currently has two credit cards in the United States, both of which are issued by Puerto Rico’s Banco Popular. The bank has just reached out to cardmembers to inform them that all cards will be closed as of March 31, 2022.

The card issuer also stated that no annual fees are being charged between January 1 and March 31, 2022, and that any annual fees charged between February and December 2021 will be automatically credited back to the account.

While it’s pretty common for credit card benefits to change over time, it’s not all that often that you see co-branded airline cards discontinued altogether. Many in the miles & points world picked up LifeMiles credit cards over time, given that the cards offered decent welcome bonuses. The perks of the cards were reasonably good as well, at least for those who fly Avianca with any frequency.

Avianca’s US credit card is being discontinued

Will there be a new LifeMiles credit card?

It’s anyone’s guess why the LifeMiles credit cards are being discontinued:

  • It could be that LifeMiles is starting a relationship with a new credit card issuer, that’s a bit more mainstream than Banco Popular
  • It could be that Banco Popular wasn’t happy with the profitability of the card portfolio (in terms of card spending, number of members, etc.), and that it no longer made sense to issue these cards

LifeMiles can be incredibly useful for Star Alliance first & business class award redemptions, as the program frequently sells miles at a discount, and is also transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Citi ThankYou.

If Avianca LifeMiles were to launch a co-branded credit card with another issuer, which one would be most likely? This is purely speculation on my part, but:

  • Amex and Citi don’t really issue any “niche” co-branded airline credit cards, but rather only massive card portfolios (Delta and American, respectively)
  • Chase does issue some lower volume cards (Aer Lingus, Iberia, etc.), but the fact that LifeMiles isn’t transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards suggests to me that there’s not much of a relationship there
  • Barclays seems to me like the most likely bank that would partner with LifeMiles

Only time will tell what’s next, and if LifeMiles has plans for another credit card, or if the popular program will just focus on selling miles directly and mileage transfers.

Avianca’s Boeing 787 business class

Bottom line

Banco Popular’s Avianca LifeMiles credit cards will be discontinued as of March 31, 2022, and all annual fees paid since February 2021 should be credited. Banco Popular is more of a niche card issuer in the United States, so I always found the partnership a bit unusual.

I’m curious to see what’s next for LifeMiles in the United States, and if we see a new co-branded credit card, or what.

Did you ever get an Avianca LifeMiles credit card? If so, what was your experience with it?

Conversations (17)
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  1. raksiam Guest

    It was nice of them to refund the annual fee from last year. It wasn't pro-rated either, it was the full $149. I always used this card when buying Lifemiles to get the extra bonus. But didn't really use it otherwise.

    Bank of America has a lot of airline cards as well. So maybe it will be them? Or maybe US Bank?

  2. Ruben E Alban Guest

    there was nothing whrong with the credit card fee not worth it..the problem is with Avianca..that is why i an not using anymore.

  3. Al Vela Guest

    I was surprised when I received the letter. Wasn’t sure what was happening. My wife had a Toy’s R Us credit card from Synchrony and when TRU closed downs, Synchrony issued her a generic Master Card. I would expected for BAnco Popular to have kept the credit line and issue a generic card.

  4. Redtailshark Guest

    Ahh Banco Popular Vuela Visa! Yes I churned very hard on this because it was a key to low-cost F and J StarA redemptions. I found it very useful to generate LH F redemptions C2-C1 for ~450 or so and J for ~250 or less or even C4.

    This process was not without its issues ofc we all know that since the misadventures of Senor Kwok it has been harder to obtain maximum value from...

    Ahh Banco Popular Vuela Visa! Yes I churned very hard on this because it was a key to low-cost F and J StarA redemptions. I found it very useful to generate LH F redemptions C2-C1 for ~450 or so and J for ~250 or less or even C4.

    This process was not without its issues ofc we all know that since the misadventures of Senor Kwok it has been harder to obtain maximum value from LM...but not impossible. Don't ask how we are years past the point of sharing truly valuable secrets freely on the boards and blogs.

    From my pov it's too bad because BP VV was niche and not many others were going hard at this in this way...the barriers to entry both of BancoP and of LM itself kept the spoon-fed blog babies out of the stadium which basically meant it was nicely sustainable. You know, we all love sustainable miles lol!

    In fact I might have called BP VV - AND this time WITHOUT IRONY

    "LO MEJOR EN SU CLASE!"

    Not like.... you know..... one way PHL to FCO 635k SM .... LOOOOL!!

  5. John Fitzgerald Guest

    Lo mejor q le alla pasado a Vianca desligarse de una empresa corruptos...Avianca es la mejor linea del Mundo. Gracias y busquen de aliado a PENFED.! Exito Avianca..

  6. TimR Guest

    US Bank used to issue an Avianca card so maybe they will resume the relationship

  7. Ryan Guest

    I cant imagine why they wouldn't transition you to another one of their credit cards instead of just closing the account.

    1. Levi Gold

      Miles & points hobbyists, at least the hardcore ones, are probably not that profitable (at least for cobrand cards), unless the issuer really knows what they're doing. Niche programs that are especially useful to hobbyists (LifeMiles being in that category thanks to the uselessness of many other *A programs to Americans) will have most cobrand holders be hobbyists.

  8. Matt K Guest

    Just got the letter about the cancellation in the mail today. Was curious why my annual fee was refunded a couple days ago. Now I know.

    Anybody have any recommendations for a replacement card? Fly mainly out of regional airports (DSM and OMA), so I'm not a hub captive. Already have a CSP, have Hilton Diamond and would ideally like to keep gas and grocery bonuses.

    Was looking at the Amex EveryDay Preferred, but am not married to it. Thoughts?

  9. Jonathon Guest

    Avianca is great if you booking close in. Great redemption rates!

    Anything more than a few months out and a flight schedule change is as likely to happen as not.

    My experience:
    Booked 8 month out.
    Swiss had a schedule change that would have been fine for me.
    Swiss notified Avianca
    10 days later Avianca notified me and by then no Swiss had canceled the itinerary
    No business class available...

    Avianca is great if you booking close in. Great redemption rates!

    Anything more than a few months out and a flight schedule change is as likely to happen as not.

    My experience:
    Booked 8 month out.
    Swiss had a schedule change that would have been fine for me.
    Swiss notified Avianca
    10 days later Avianca notified me and by then no Swiss had canceled the itinerary
    No business class available from Avianca on any Star Alliance Partner to our destination anytime near our departure date.
    Avianca charged me a point redeposit fee plus told me that it would take months to the the taxes back for the booking they had lost through mismanagement.
    Fortunately Avianca is so disorganized they did not retaliate by freezing my account when I got both the taxes and redeposit fee reversed by my credit card.

    Hours and hours spent on hold. Frequent disconnects . Horrible phone agents.
    A bazaar credit card processing system that is totally unreliable.

    I still have a hundred thousand points I transferred from Citi stuck at Avianca.

    If Avianca had a motto it would be " Where the inept report to the unethical"

  10. Carl WV Guest

    In my experience they always credited the annual fee every year I contacted them (which is every year except the initial AF). They gave absolutely no resistance. I had very little spend. I'm surprised to hear anybody was paying them an AF.

    1. Richard Guest

      I don't have the time nor the patience to negotiate an annual fee with a credit card company. Time is money.

    2. Carl WV Guest

      About one minute. No negotiation at all. Time is money, but I never made $149 a minute.

  11. JWM Guest

    Be very, very careful before you book Avianca especially long haul business class from North to South America. Near zero service, lousy snack pack, some flights have a blanket and a pillow and some down. Refunds, you ask? Don't. Sadly, the world's second oldest airlines needs to go away and for good.

  12. Richard Guest

    I paid the annual fee. I received a refund of the annual fee. I have yet to receive notice one way or another on the status of the credit card, though. The monthly statement received yesterday does not indicate the credit card will cease to exist in a few months.

  13. Mike Guest

    Avianca has gone downhill since or even before their biggest stock holder left. That thief German CEO they got 2 years ago, left with over 30m in his pocket for less than a year of "work". Then the benefits on lifemiles program were good until this year. The program requirements changed twice last year and once again this year. Now you are require to obtain a certainty amount of miles to qualify to a tier...

    Avianca has gone downhill since or even before their biggest stock holder left. That thief German CEO they got 2 years ago, left with over 30m in his pocket for less than a year of "work". Then the benefits on lifemiles program were good until this year. The program requirements changed twice last year and once again this year. Now you are require to obtain a certainty amount of miles to qualify to a tier but if you don't get 100% of the tiers requirement you don't get the benefits. Also, their system is trash. When ever you update your info or they update it for you, they screw up. They messed up my info twice last year and I traveled 3 times during the 3 months that took them to fix my name, none of those trips I got any benefits or miles and even got embarrassed at a vip lounge. They should go broke all together with so many complaints from normal passengers to high rank politics and other public figures.

  14. Alonzo Diamond

    Welp, at least I get my annual fee back that I just paid a few months ago. Was only keeping this card to keep my Lifemiles active anyway. Roops.

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raksiam Guest

It was nice of them to refund the annual fee from last year. It wasn't pro-rated either, it was the full $149. I always used this card when buying Lifemiles to get the extra bonus. But didn't really use it otherwise. Bank of America has a lot of airline cards as well. So maybe it will be them? Or maybe US Bank?

0
Ruben E Alban Guest

there was nothing whrong with the credit card fee not worth it..the problem is with Avianca..that is why i an not using anymore.

0
Al Vela Guest

I was surprised when I received the letter. Wasn’t sure what was happening. My wife had a Toy’s R Us credit card from Synchrony and when TRU closed downs, Synchrony issued her a generic Master Card. I would expected for BAnco Popular to have kept the credit line and issue a generic card.

0
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