Now transfer Bilt Rewards to Avianca LifeMiles


Today Bilt rewards announced the addition of another transfer partner: Avianca LifeMiles. I’ve frequently noted Avianca LifeMiles as being a one of my favorite couple of airline programs thanks to their many sweet spots. This is a nice addition for Bilt Rewards members and it’s great to see Bilt continue to expand on its partnerships.

a white airplane on a runway

The Deal

  • Bilt Rewards has added Avianca LifeMiles as a new transfer partner. Link your Avianca LifeMiles account in the Bilt Rewards app for 100 bonus Bilt Rewards points.

Quick Thoughts

This is great news for Bilt Rewards members as it provides another opportunity to get outsized value out of Bilt Rewards. My affinity for LifeMiles is well documented. Avianca has what is a generally reasonable award chart (without surcharges beyond Avianca’s $25 partner booking fee), but the program gets even more interesting given Avianca’s awesome mixed-cabin award pricing and numerous secret sweet spots. Just a few weeks ago, I flew one of those “secret” sweet spots from New York JFK to Lisbon, Portugal in business class for just 35,000 miles and around $40 per passenger. We flew home in Turkish Airlines business class from Helsinki to Istanbul to New York for 60,000 miles per passenger and about $90 (that was a manual booking made via email, though readers have reported that manual bookings are no longer possible).

Avianca can also be useful for domestic itineraries on United. If you stay within a “zone” (the three US zones are basically the Eastern seaboard to Georgia, most of the central US and Florida, and like from ~Nevada west), flights usually cost 7,500 miles each way in economy class or 10,000 each way in United domestic “first”. I say “usually” because just like with international awards, there are some routes that price differently without a clear rhyme or reason. United doesn’t make a lot of awards available to partners these days, but it’s a good option when availability exists.

All of the above only gets more exciting if we ever see Bilt offer the kind of big transfer bonus that we’ve seen with other partners.

The key drawback of LifeMiles is its punitive cancellation fees (up to $200 per ticket for international awards). That’s a painful pill to swallow if plans change. If you plan close-in travel, that is probably less of an issue than awards booked far in advance. The LifeMiles website is also notorious for sometimes failing to show some flights that should be available. Sometimes it is just a matter of outsmarting the Smart Search, but sometimes the flights you want just won’t show up.

I see Avianca as a pretty complementary partner for Bilt. LifeMiles will offer reasonable Star Alliance award pricing to/from Europe and a website that works better than Turkish’s website. With the addition of Avianca LifeMiles, Bilt now has 16 airline and hotel transfer partner programs (though since you can move Avios from British Airways to Qatar, you really have access to 17 programs as seen in the charts below).

Bilt Transfer Partners: Airlines

Rewards ProgramBest UsesBilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Aer Lingus AviosFuel surcharges are sometimes lower when booking with Aer Lingus ( rather than British Airways, Qatar, or Iberia. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar.  See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Air Canada AeroplanRedeem for Star Alliance flights and/or flights with Air Canada partners (such as Etihad). No fuel surcharges; $39 CAD award booking fee; 5,000 points to add stopover on one-way award. See: Air Canada Aeroplan: Everything you need to know.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Air France KLM Flying BlueMonthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards. Air France often offers very good business class award pricing between the US and Europe & Israel.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Alaska MileagePlanAlaska Airlines offers decent oneworld award pricing, excellent short-distant pricing, and uniquely allows free stop-overs one one-way awards. Additionally, Alaska allows free award changes and cancelations (although they do have a small non-refundable partner award booking fee)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
American AAdvantageBest for AA's web special awards or for partner awards such as Cathay Pacific business class, Qatar business class, Etihad first class, etc. AA no longer charges change or cancellation fees on awards.1 to 1
(Ends June) (~ 1 Day)
Avianca LifeMilesAvianca LifeMiles can be great for Star Alliance awards. They offer reasonable award prices and no fuel surcharges on awards. They also offer shorthaul awards within the US (for flying United, for example) for as few as 7,500 miles one-way. Best of all, their mixed-cabin pricing can lead to fantastic first-class award prices. See this post for details.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
British Airways AviosWhile flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Excellent value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Cathay Pacific Asia MilesCathay Pacific has a decent distance based award chart, but they no longer allow stopovers longer than 24 hours. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can be a good option for booking American Airlines flights with a distance based award chart, especially if other OneWorld Alliance miles aren't available. For long distance flights, it is possible to reduce the cost of a premium cabin award by adding on a lower cabin segment. See this post for details.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Emirates SkywardsThe best use of Emirates miles has been to fly Emirates itself. Unfortunately fuel surcharges can be steep. See: Emirates Sweet Spot Awards - First class from 30K miles round trip. 1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Hawaiian MilesHawaiian Airlines’ award prices tend to be quite high, but there are some not-terrible uses: fly to neighboring islands for 7.5K miles, fly first class round-trip from Hawaii to South Pacific islands for as few as 95K miles, fly first class round-trip from Hawaii to Australia for as few as 130K miles, or use miles to upgrade paid flights.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Iberia AviosOn their own flights, Iberia offers low award prices and a very reasonable 25 Euro cancellation fee. Partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well, but these are usually nonrefundable. Fuel surcharges are sometimes lower when booking with Iberia rather than British Airways, Aer Lingus, or Qatar. It's possible to move points (Avios) between Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Qatar. See also: Avios Sweet Spots for Award Tickets.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Qatar Privilege Club AviosQatar has reasonable award prices for flying Qatar itself. Points are now transferable 1 to 1 to British Airways (and from there to Aer Lingus or Iberia). It is now also possible to book JetBlue flights with Qatar Avios.1 to 1 via BA (~5 Minutes)
Turkish Airlines Miles & SmilesMiles & Smiles offers a number of awesome sweet-spot awards including 7.5K one-way anywhere within the US, even to Hawaii. Many awards cannot be booked online but can be booked via phone or email. See: Turkish Miles & Smiles Complete Guide and Turkish business class sweet spots from the US.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
United MileagePlusUnited offers free award changes and free cancelations. Like Avianca and Aeroplan, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. Unfortunately, United charges many more miles for international first class awards. Good uses of miles include United's Excursionist Perk awards and (sometimes) dynamically priced United economy awards.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Virgin Atlantic Flying ClubVirgin Atlantic offers a few great sweet spot awards including US to Europe on Delta One business class for 50K points one-way. See: Best uses for Virgin Atlantic points (Sweet Spot Spotlight).1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)

Bilt Transfer Partners: Hotels

Rewards ProgramBest UsesBilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
HyattUse for Hyatt free nights, free suite nights, lounge upgrades, or suite upgrades. Hyatt points are often worth at least 2 cents each, but they’re sometimes worth far more. Bonus: award nights are not subject to resort fees.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
IHGIHG dynamically prices their awards and sometimes offer very good value. IHG Premier and IHG Premier Business cards offer the fourth night free on award stays.1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Marriott Bonvoy5th Night Free awards. Opportunities to get outsized value exist but can be hard to find.20K to 25K (~5 Minutes)

An argument could be made that Avianca sells LifeMiles at a significant enough discount to make them a less valuable transfer partner since you can buy the miles for a reasonable enough price. We often see Avianca sell LifeMiles from around 1.3c per mile. Some people prefer not to transfer to Avianca because those miles can be purchased reasonably, whereas many other transfer partners do not sell miles directly to consumers at a reasonable price.

That said, if I paid monthly rent and earned 20 or 30,000 Bilt points per year on rent alone, I’d find a transfer to Avianca for a round trip domestic flight or two to be a pretty good return on paying the rent. If you also mix in some dining spend on the first of the month and/or take advantage of the Bilt Dining program and Lyft partnerships and if Bilt ever offers a transfer bonus, I could see this being really useful for a trip to or from Europe.

And even if you’re not a LifeMiles fan, it’s great to see Bilt continue to add to its stable of airline and hotel programs. Also keep in mind that you do not need to be a Bilt cardholder or rent your housing to join Bilt Rewards — anyone can join and link up loyalty program accounts. Now with 16 transfer partners, one could earn 1600 points just linking loyalty accounts — which almost meets the minimum transfer threshold of 2,000 Bilt points for members with no status.

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Nick, if someone earned 20k or 30k from rent and Avianca is the Rent Day bonus baby, that person is looking at 1.75x to 2.5x (depending) for a total of 35k to 75k. Not too shabby. Nevermind all the other Bilt bonus opportunities. And, some will still poo-poo the card for the lack of a SUB.


Bilt has pretty much made the case to be the most valuable award transfer program (the only argument against it is the points are harder to get). I think only ANA, EVA, and Singapore are left from the stable of standout programs.

Last edited 4 months ago by Brent