Buy LifeMiles with a 150% bonus
Unlike previous sales, there is no minimum purchase required to receive the 150% bonus. You’ll get the same bonus whether you buy 1,000 miles or 100,000 miles, making this a good way to top-off an account.
Buying LifeMiles with a 150% bonus means paying 1.32 US cents each, the lowest price we’ve ever seen them go on sale. But that was probably necessary, given what’s happened recently…
|155% bonus available for OMAAT readers|
|Update: OMAAT has a special offer that lets you buy miles with a 155% bonus, or 1.29 US cents per mile. Registration is required, and can be done here|
What does Avianca’s bankruptcy mean for LifeMiles?
On 11 May, Avianca filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, after failing to meet a US$65 million bond payment deadline. Avianca took pains to emphasize that the filing was voluntary, and have positioned it as a temporary measure to buy time for reorganization.
Now, LifeMiles is a separate legal entity from Avianca, owned 70% by the airline and 30% by a private equity firm called Advent International.
The fact that it’s a separate legal entity means it’s unaffected by the filing- it has its own bank accounts, its own balance sheet, its own liabilities. That said, Avianca accounts for 27% of all LifeMiles’ gross billings (and probably more indirectly- banks only buy LifeMiles because Avianca exists), so its fortune is still tied to Avianca’s.
Moody’s provides coverage of LifeMiles’ debt instruments, and downgraded them to Caa1 from B3 after Avianca’s bankruptcy filing. Investment-savvy folk may find their report worth reading.
For what it’s worth, Moody’s noted that LifeMiles’ cash and cash equivalents could cover 2.6x of short term debt, and that the company had posted free cash flow for the 12 months ending March 31, 2020.
Now, if LifeMiles goes bust, here’s some things you’ll need to consider:
- Your LifeMiles may not have any more value
- Your upcoming tickets redeemed with LifeMiles may not be honored, even if they’re flown by other Star Alliance carriers. Generally speaking, reimbursement for award tickets only takes place when the flight is flown, not when the ticket is issued. Therefore, carriage may be refused if LifeMiles isn’t around to pay the operating carrier
Given how unlikely it is that we’ll be able to fly in the next few months, these are definitely things you want to carefully consider.
What can I do with LifeMiles?
LifeMiles does not impose fuel surcharges on redemptions, and here’s how much it costs for selected Business/First Class redemptions out of Singapore.
|Business Class||First Class|
|Singapore to North America||78,000 miles||99,000 miles|
|Singapore to Hawaii||51,000 miles||75,000 miles|
|Singapore to Australia||40,000 miles||60,000 miles|
|Singapore to Europe||78,000 miles||102,000 miles|
|Singapore to Japan||36,000 miles||50,000 miles|
LifeMiles has included this somewhat cryptic message in their latest eDM. I suppose it’s meant to provide reassurance that award prices will be fixed until early 2021 at least, but make of it what you will.
Even though we do not intent (sic) to change our award rates, for the members who purchase this promotion we will honor these award tables until at least January 2021.
The full award chart can be found here.
What do I need to know about buying LifeMiles?
The usual caveats about buying LifeMiles apply:
- Don’t buy them speculatively. Only buy them if you have a confirmed trip in mind and have found award space on LifeMiles (you don’t need to have any miles in your account to search for award space)
- You can’t redeem Singapore Airlines First or Business Class cabins on selected routes with LifeMiles
- LifeMiles may not see the same award space as other Star Alliance partners. Just because you see something on Aeroplan or United doesn’t necessarily mean it will appear on LifeMiles
- All changes and cancellations must be done through the Avianca call centre; they cannot be done online. It costs between US$100-200 to cancel an award ticket, depending on your origin and destination
- LifeMiles tickets can be redeemed for anyone you choose
LifeMiles expire after 12 months of account inactivity, but you shouldn’t be holding on to them for that long anyway.
What card should I use for LifeMiles purchases?
LifeMiles purchases are processed directly by Avianca in USD, meaning that they code as foreign currency airfare spend. You’ll want to use one of the following cards to maximize the miles you earn:
|UOB Visa Signature
|4 mpd||Min S$1K max S$2K FCY spend per s. month|
|UOB Lady’s Card
|4 mpd*||Cap S$1K per c. month|
|UOB Lady’s Solitaire
|4 mpd*||Cap S$3K per c. month|
|SCB X Card
|3 mpd||Until 30 Jun 20. Min S$2K per c. month|
|SCB Visa Infinite
||3 mpd||Min S$2K per s. month|
|3 mpd||Max S$5K per c. month|
|S. Month= Statement Month | C. Month= Calendar Month
*Must declare travel as quarterly 10X category
LifeMiles award space issues
I use LifeMiles every now and then, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that award availability seems to have shrunk. I can’t say for sure whether it’s just poor engine design or deliberate award blocking, but for what it’s worth, it is possible to force LifeMiles to show results that don’t show up the first time round.
For example, in the example below I’ve searched for SIN-LAX using the default LifeMiles search settings, but only see Economy Class options.
However, I know from searching Aeroplan that there are Business Class options available that day on Air China. So I toggle the search mode from “Smart Search” to “Air China”…
…and lo and behold, award space shows up.
What it does suggest is that you should always start searching on a “better” site like Aeroplan or ANA, then come to LifeMiles to try and book the flight.
A 150% bonus is the largest we’ve ever seen for LifeMiles, but it counts for little if buying LifeMiles causes you to lose sleep at night.
If despite everything you’re still a buyer, do your best to redeem your LifeMiles as soon as possible for travel in the near term. It’ll be pretty tough though, given how we still don’t know when the government advisory against travel will be lifted, and which countries will be the first to have leisure travel bubbles with Singapore.
If you’re new to the miles and points game, it may be good to spend some time learning the ropes about intra-Alliance redemptions and buying miles before taking the plunge- i.e. if you’re the sort who asks “can I transfer LifeMiles to KrisFlyer” then this definitely isn’t a promotion for you.