Update: Registration for the extra 10% bonus has ended, so all that remains is the normal sale until September 30, which I detail below.
Avianca LifeMiles is offering a bonus of up to 135% on purchased miles through September 30, 2015. You can buy up to 150,000 LifeMiles during the sale and get up to 202,500 bonus miles.
LifeMiles cost 3.3 cents each, so with a 135% bonus, you get the miles for 1.40 cents each. For instance, 237,350 total miles would be $3,333 or 1.40 cents each. That’s the cheapest I’ve seen LifeMiles sold. Normally they cost 1.5 cents during sales.
When to Buy (Math)
Here are the prices for each number of miles (including bonus) that you can purchase.
- 1,500 to 4,500 miles for 2.2 cents each
- 7,000 to 10,500 miles for 1.89 cents each
- 14,000 to 24,000 miles for 1.65 cents each
- 26,650 to 51,250 miles for 1.61 cents each
- 54,600 to 84,000 miles for 1.57 cents each
- 88,150 to 129,000 miles for 1.53 cents each
- 137,250 to 225,000 miles for 1.47 cents each
- 237,350 to 352,500 miles for 1.40 cents each
I value LifeMiles at 1.5 cents per mile at the moment. Buying them for 1.4 cents per mile is not enough of an inducement for me because I don’t have an immediate use for them, and miles get devalued all the time. I don’t want to shell out $3,000+ on such an uncertain investment.
Many people should have a similar view of this sale and buy zero miles. As with most mile sales, the main way it make sense to buy miles at these prices is if you have an immediate high value use for them.
Possible Immediate High Value Uses
Do not just use the award chart, though. Make sure you can book what you want to book on lifemiles.com. You can do an award search with zero miles in your account. The reason for this extra step is that if you can’t book your award online, LifeMiles call centers are nearly useless.
Also remember that you cannot mix cabins on LifeMiles awards. That means you can’t fly domestic economy to connect to international Business Class. And your international First Class awards are probably only going to be one segment, since they cannot connect to Business Class regional flights.
Americans can book awards to Cuba with LifeMiles. For instance, here is a search from Washington-Dulles to Havana, Cuba. It costs 17,500 LifeMiles + $31.65 or 7,500 miles + $181.65.
Buying miles during the award booking often costs 1.5 cents per mile as in this case.
If you bought all the miles for a one way award to Cuba during the current sale, you’d pay:
- $297: 18,000 miles at 1.65 cents each
- $31.65: taxes and fees
- $328.65 total, unbeatable for a one way award to Cuba
Europe in Business Class
The United States to Europe is 63,000 miles each way in Business Class. The Star Alliance has great award space.
You could buy 26,650 miles (13,000 + bonus) for $429 and buy the last 37,000 miles for $555 at the time of booking. That would get you a one way in Business Class for about $1,000 total after taxes.
See How to Consistently Buy Business Class Tickets to Europe for about $1,000 and Anatomy of an Award: Using LifeMiles to Buy Business Class Ticket Between Europe and USA for $1,040 for full details on these awards.
There are similar deals all over the world and in all cabins through this sale, too many to list here. Investigate where you want to go on the award chart and then make sure you can book the award you want. If the math works out, buy LifeMiles.
Good Amounts to Buy If You Want to Buy
One thing you’ll also learn from searching on lifemiles.com is that most LifeMiles awards offer the chance to pay just 40% of the required miles and buy the rest for 1.5 cents during the award booking. Keep that in mind when determining the number to buy during this sale. For Europe, that means, buying at least 26,000 LifeMiles during the sale and the rest when booking the award.
Buy LifeMiles with These Credit Cards
LifeMiles purchases are processed directly by Avianca. That’s great news!
It means you can buy them with your Citi Prestige® Card, and its $250 Air Travel Credit will refund you the first $250 of the purchase price of the miles (plus you’ll earn 4x ThankYou Points on the first $250 of the miles purchase.)
It means that the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 3x ThankYou Points on the purchase of LifeMiles.
It means you can purchase LifeMiles, then use your Arrival miles for an offsetting statement credit.
You can buy 252,500 Avianca LifeMiles for $4,950 or 1.40 cents each. That’s too high to buy speculatively, but there are a lot of immediate awards you can book where that price offers great value.
The LifeMiles sales are now processed by Avianca itself, so you can get category bonuses on cards that bonus airline or travel purchases like my latest card, the Citi Prestige® Card which offers 3x on purchases from airlines and a $250 Air Travel Credit, or you can use your Arrival Plus to get American Airlines miles for zero cash.
Hat Tip Antoni in the comments