LifeMiles has just launched its newest promotion on purchased miles, which potentially represents an excellent deal if you’re planning any Star Alliance travel in the coming months. There’s even an exclusive offer for OMAAT readers, which is better than the publicly available bonus.
OMAAT LifeMiles promotion details
Through Friday, October 15, 2021, LifeMiles is offering a bonus on purchased miles. While most members can receive a bonus of 140%, OMAAT readers exclusively have access to a bonus of up to 150% (others are of course welcome to use and promote this offer as well).
With this promotion, you can receive a 150% bonus no matter how many miles you buy, anywhere from 1,000 to 200,000 (often there’s a significant minimum to unlock the lowest price, but that’s not the case here). OMAAT readers can register with their LifeMiles number here, and will then be eligible to purchase miles with the additional bonus.
LifeMiles ordinarily sells miles for ~3.3 cents each, so if you max out this bonus and purchase miles with a 150% bonus you’ll be paying just 1.32 cents per purchased mile, which is a solid value. With this promotion you could buy a maximum of 500,000 LifeMiles for $6,600.
It’s worth noting that while we saw some bigger bonuses during the worst of the pandemic, I wouldn’t expect to see more of those anytime soon. Furthermore, those offers had a much higher minimum number of miles you had to buy to unlock the lowest price. The 150% bonus is still excellent, and likely as good as we’ll see as people start to plan travel once again.
Buying LifeMiles counts as an airfare purchase
LifeMiles processes mileage purchases directly, meaning that buying miles with the program qualifies as airfare spending. Therefore you’ll want to consider using one of the following cards for your purchase, since they offer the following bonus miles for airline spending:
5x Membership Rewards points
per dollar spent directly with airlines or through Amex Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and then 1x
3x Membership Rewards points
per dollar spent directly with airlines
3x Ultimate Rewards points
per dollar spent on airfare
3x ThankYou points
per dollar spent on airfare
2x Ultimate Rewards points
per dollar spent on airfare
If you pay with The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) then you earn 5x points. I value those points at 1.7 cents each, so to me, that’s the equivalent of a further 8.5% return. That means that the real cost of each mile goes down from 1.32 cents to 1.2 cents, which is an even better value (this isn’t cash in your pocket, but rather points in your “pocket” based on my valuation).
Should you buy LifeMiles?
First let me address this topic more generally. Avianca is in the Star Alliance, which means you can redeem LifeMiles on all Star Alliance airlines (this is a large part of what makes the program so great). To give a few examples of one-way premium cabin redemption rates (there are no fuel surcharges on any awards):
- US to Europe in business class costs 63,000 miles
- US to Europe in first class costs 87,000 miles
- US to Southeast Asia in business class costs 78,000 miles
- US to North Asia in first class costs 90,000 miles
Sometimes LifeMiles has promotions where redemption rates are even better than that.
With a specific use in mind, this LifeMiles promotion can be a great value, whether you’re looking at traveling first class on All Nippon Airways or Lufthansa, or are looking at traveling in business class on a countless number of airlines.
Everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves and decide whether this makes sense or not.
Do note that in some cases LifeMiles doesn’t have access to the same award availability as Star Alliance partners, for better or worse. Sometimes LifeMiles doesn’t have access to partner awards that other airlines do have access to, and other times the inverse is true.
That’s why I always recommend doing some “dummy” award searches before buying miles, so you can get a sense of how award availability lines up with your needs.
But isn’t Avianca in Chapter 11?
In May 2020, Avianca filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, so what does that mean for LifeMiles? It’s worth noting that the LifeMiles frequent flyer program is a separate company (even though the program is majority owned by the airline), and LifeMiles isn’t part of the bankruptcy proceedings.
I’ve written in the past about what happens to airline miles if an airline goes bankrupt, so as it applies here:
- For now it should be business as usual for earning and redeeming LifeMiles
- In the event that Avianca didn’t emerge from bankruptcy, it’s possible that the LifeMiles program would still live on in Latin America, given how popular it is, and given that it’s spun off
- However, if that were to happen, don’t expect that LifeMiles would still have access to Star Alliance award space, since the program would no longer be associated with a Star Alliance airline
More specific to Avianca’s situation, the airline has received a loan worth hundreds of millions of dollars, so the way I view it, the airline isn’t in serious risk of going out of business anytime in the next few months. Global travel is starting to recover, and I hope the darkest days are behind us. Of course things can always change, but that’s where things stand as of now.
Obviously there’s some risk here with buying miles, as there always is, especially with no immediate use in mind.
LifeMiles is offering OMAAT readers a 150% bonus on purchased miles (registration required here), compared to the publicly available bonus of up to 140%.
Acquiring LifeMiles for 1.32 cents each is potentially a great deal, especially when you factor in the credit card rewards, which could lower the real cost even further.
My general take is that I wouldn’t buy miles unless you have a use for them in the next several months. That being said, if you do have a use for them, this is a great deal. Travel is making a comeback, and opportunities like these are worth considering.
Everyone will have to decide for themselves. There’s risk, miles can always devalue, etc., but this is a solid deal. And for the record, I don’t get any sort of a kickback if you buy miles here.
Do you plan on buying LifeMiles with a 150% bonus?