Buy Avianca LifeMiles from 1.22c per mile [Targeted]


One Mile at a Time reports on what could be a terrific offer for those targeted: some Avianca LifeMiles members can buy miles with up to a 170% bonus, which brings the cost down to just 1.22c per mile. That can make for a standout deal, particularly for international premium cabin awards. Unfortunately, I was not targeted for any bonus at all and other members could be targeted for different bonus amounts. Those targeted with the 170% bonus are getting a good deal though for sure.

a red sign on stand

The Deal

  • Avianca LifeMiles has targeted some members with a tiered bonus to buy miles and get up to 170% bonus miles based on the following purchase thresholds:
    • Buy 1,000-15,000 miles, get a 140% bonus
    • Buy 16,000-30,000 miles, get a 155% bonus
    • Buy 31,000-200,000 miles, get a 170% bonus
  • Direct link to this deal

Key Terms

  • This promotion is targeted
  • Expires April 9, 2024

Quick Thoughts

I don’t often buy miles because I generate enough of them at a reasonable rate throughout the year, but I could absolutely see the argument for buying Avianca LifeMiles when on sale.

LifeMiles isn’t without its drawbacks, but at 1.22c per mile, you can create some pretty cheap redemptions.

For instance, since Avianca charges 63,000 miles to most of Europe from the US (a bit less to Scandinavia), you could buy the miles for a business class award ticket to Europe for less than $769. Just add the $5.60 in taxes departing the US and the Avianca $25 award booking fee and you’ve got a business class ticket to Europe for less than $800.

If you’re able to take advantage of a mixed-cabin award or use one of the unpublished LifeMiles sweet spots, like the New York JFK to Lisbon route, which costs just 35,000 miles one way, you could do even better. At 35K, you’re looking at $427 worth of purchased miles for a one-way business class ticket — though keep in mind that the 35K price is only valid in one direction (JFK to Lisbon), not the reverse direction, and in order to get the 170% bonus, you’d need to be buying more than enough miles for a single one-way ticket (though if you need miles for 2 or more tickets, you could easily average that $427 each!).

But the LifeMiles drawbacks are real: change and cancellation fees are high, ringing in at $200 per passenger on most international awards (the fee can range from $50 to $200 depending on the award). Speaking of fees, the LifeMiles website does not always display the full amount of taxes & fees in initial search results. You need to check for the taxes & fees that would be charged on a United award (by searching the United Airlines website for the same award) and then add $25 — otherwise you may be in for a surprise at checkout. Customer service has a poor reputation, though I’ve had positive experiences recently.

Still, I find this sale could be worth it for those who are familiar with LifeMiles and with a near-term redemption in mind. I wouldn’t recommend buying speculatively since the program could devalue at any time — I’d only buy miles with a specific near-term redemption in mind or if I had a high level of confidence in my own flexibility and commitment to prioritize the use of the miles in the not-distant future.

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They have issues but if you want something simple, a direct flight from the US to Europe or the opposite, they can be excellent.

I was able to get a flight from ORD-VIE on Austrian Air within about a month of flying it (2 one way business tickets for 63K per ticket and about $15 in fees).

Then after I got sick in Germany, I wanted to leave early and found within a day 2 one way tickets in business on United.

Transfers from Amex were nearly instant.