Avianca LifeMiles has launched a new miles sale, which runs from now till 26 January 2023, 1300 hrs SGT. During this period, LifeMiles members can purchase miles with up to a 160% bonus, and if they’re readers of One Mile at a Time (i.e. anyone), they can register to receive an upsized bonus of 165%.
In addition to this, LifeMiles is offering a 10% rebate to anyone who buys miles during this sale and makes a redemption for a flight between the USA and Europe before 17 February 2023- sadly, the geographical limitations mean it won’t be that useful to those of us in Singapore.
What’s particularly interesting about this sale is that it’s the first since Avianca announced an overhaul of their elite qualification system, allowing members to earn qualifying miles from buying LifeMiles. Unfortunately, you can’t just buy your way to Star Gold status, as I’ll touch on in a bit.
Get a 165% bonus on LifeMiles purchases
LifeMiles members can now register for the 165% bonus sale, which can be done via the link above. Once registered, members who purchase miles will earn bonuses tiered as follows:
- Buy 1,000-20,000 miles: 145% bonus
- Buy 21,000-50,000 miles: 155% bonus
- Buy 51,000-200,000 miles: 165% bonus
The bonus miles will be credited instantly, and members can buy up to 200,000 miles (pre-bonus) per account, per calendar year.
A 165% bonus works out to paying 1.25 US cents per mile. For context, the previous sale offered up to a 170% bonus.
10% rebate on next LifeMiles redemption
Avianca is offering a 10% rebate on the next award redemption to any member who buys miles during the current sale, with no cap on the maximum rebate. Unfortunately, this is only valid for travel between the United States and Europe, so it’ll be of limited usefulness to us in Singapore.
Here’s the details of the rebate:
- No minimum miles purchase is required
- The LifeMiles member must redeem an award between 17 January and 17 February 2023 (travel can be for any date)
- The 10% rebate applies to the first award redemption booked during this period
- The 10% rebate applies to a single redemption, but can be for multiple travellers on the same booking
- The 10% rebate will post within 15 business days of making the booking
Earn qualifying miles from LifeMiles purchases
Earlier this month, Avianca announced an overhaul to its elite qualification criteria, enabling LifeMiles members to earn elite qualifying miles from on-ground activities such as cobrand card spend, hotel bookings, car rentals, and LifeMiles purchases.
|1 qualifying mile for each LM 1 earned|
|1 qualifying mile for each LM 2 earned|
|1 qualifying mile for each LM 20 earned|
Of course, it’s the inclusion of LifeMiles purchases that’s got everyone excited. If you could earn elite qualifying miles from buying LifeMiles, could you just buy your way to Star Gold status?
Not quite. Avianca requires that at least 50% of qualifying miles be earned from flying on Avianca, and LifeMiles purchases do not count towards this.
|Elite Status||Total Qualifying Miles||Min. Qualifying Miles on Avianca|
For example, if you purchased 200,000 LifeMiles during this sale, you’d earn 100,000 qualifying miles. However, you’d still be required to fly 12,000 or 20,000 more qualifying miles on Avianca to qualify for Gold or Diamond.
Given how unlikely it is for someone in Singapore to set foot on an Avianca jet, I’d say this isn’t a realistic option.
What can you do with LifeMiles?
The impact for those of us in Singapore is summarised below:
|✈️ LifeMiles Redemption Prices|
(from SIN, one-way)
|Business Class||First Class|
|To Japan||36,000 miles||50,000 miles|
|To Australia||50,000 miles||75,000 miles|
|To Hawaii||51,000 miles||75,000 miles|
|To Europe||78,000 miles||102,000 miles|
Business Class awards to the USA now cost 90,000 miles instead of 78,000 miles, and First Class awards to the USA now cost 120,000 miles instead of 99,000 miles. If it’s any consolation, LifeMiles does not pass on fuel surcharges for redemptions, so you’ll only pay airport taxes.
A few important things to note about LifeMiles:
- Don’t buy them speculatively
- Only buy LifeMiles if you have a confirmed trip in mind and have found award space on LifeMiles (you don’t need any miles in your account to search)
- Singapore Airlines First and Business Class space will be restricted
- You can’t redeem Singapore Airlines First or Suites Class through LifeMiles (rare exceptions apply, and should not be taken as the norm). Business Class will only be available on certain regional routes
- 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. Always check availability via LifeMiles
- All changes and cancellations must be done through the Avianca call centre
- Changes to LifeMiles tickets cannot be done online, so you’ll need to use Skype to call and the experience can be hit and miss (some agents are excellent, others barely understand English). 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
- You can put anyone’s name on a ticket
- LifeMiles expire after 12 months of account inactivity
- Earning at least one mile extends the validity of the entire balance by a further 12 months; redemption activity does not count
The LifeMiles website is notoriously temperamental (documented here), but a much easier way to look for awards is to use the Seats.Aero tool (formerly known as Awards PNR). This amazing little website shows a full listing of all award space available on LifeMiles, saving you from having to guess and check.
While there are a handful of limitations, it makes your LifeMiles experience so much less stressful.
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|
|DBS Woman’s World Card|
|4 mpd||Max S$2K per c. month|
|UOB Lady’s Card|
|4 mpd*||Max S$1K per c. month|
|UOB Lady’s Solitaire|
|4 mpd*||Max S$3K per c. month|
|4 mpd||Max S$1K per c. month|
|SCB Visa Infinite|
|3 mpd||Min. S$2K spend per s. month|
|DBS Altitude AMEX or Visa|
|3 mpd||Max S$5K per c. month|
|S. Month= Statement Month | C. Month= Calendar Month|
*Must declare travel as quarterly 10X category
Since the Citi Rewards doesn’t award 4 mpd for airfare transactions, pairing it with the Amaze isn’t an option. You can, however, pair the UOB Lady’s Card (with travel as your 10X category) with Amaze to earn 4 mpd with zero FCY fees.
LifeMiles is now offering a 165% bonus for registered members, or a cost of 1.25 US cents per mile. This could potentially be a way to save big on First and Business Class flights, provided you can find award space.
I personally don’t have any LifeMiles now, nor do I intend to buy any. I’m still well-stocked with KrisFlyer miles, and as much as I appreciate the ability to redeem Star Alliance awards without fuel surcharges, LifeMiles’ history of unannounced devaluations gives me reason to pause.