AviancaTaca LifeMiles for 3/10ths of a Cent Apiece

AviancaTaca LifeMiles is offering 250 bonus miles per purchase with no limit through their shopping portal during the month of October.

Regular readers know that this is one of the most generous frequent flyer programs in the world. As a Star Alliance member with a reasonable award chart, no fuel surcharges, one-way awards at half the cost of roundtrip, and ‘cash and points’ awards, their miles are quite useful.

Searching through the merchants that are a part of the LifeMiles shopping portal, I know that there are many inexpensive items at — I’ve used that site myself in the past to earn credit in shopping portal promos. And you get free shipping with Shoprunner no matter how small your purchase (so no need to hit $25 minimum for free shipping).

I went section by section and sorted results by price, there are gobs of items that sell for 99 cents. I only found 1 item that was less, Tresemme moisture rich vitamin E shampoo for dry or damaged hair at 74 cents.

I’ve never ordered anything less than a dollar from before. At that price point I’ve gotten miles. I assume a 74 cent item would earn points as well, enough to post a transaction to LifeMiles and thus earn the bonus. The problem is this offer only runs through the end of October so there’s not enough time to test this for certain, I suppose there’s a very small chance that a purchase under $1 won’t post at all. Some will thus be more comfortable at the $1 price point pushing the cost per mile up over $0.004 — still an amazing bargain.

When I leveraged the US Airways 2009 holiday shopping promotion in a big way, helping several folks earn in excess of 16 million miles, the cost per mile was over $0.007 (though donating products to charity dropped the cost to $0.005 after deductions).

Through October 14 there’s also an additional 20% off haircare products once per account with promo code HAIR20 but – and especially since it’s only usable once anyway — I wouldn’t use it at all. I don’t know whether coupon codes interfere with mileage earning at the way they do with some websites, but certainly not something I’d risk.

What I like about using is that they save your shipping address and full credit card information in your account, you don’t even need to type in the last 4 digits or security code on your card when you purchase. That makes each purchase go fairly quickly.

Still, at only 250 miles per transaction this promotion will be quite a lot of work to scale. It’s a very very low cost per mile in terms of cash outlay, but will take a lot of tedious time to complete thousands of transactions. Still, it should be lucrative for some.

I would take screen shots of the offer, of going through the shopping portal to the retail websites, and keep all purchase records. I don’t have experience with the reliability of purchases posting to LifeMiles for shopping transactions ad with these things there’s always the chance of having to argue to get miles to post later.

Incidentally, Shoprunner offers a free 30 day trial. According to RetailMeNot, if you sign up for a 30 day trial and before you order anything, go to the ‘My Account’ page and ‘Manage’ your membership. You can extend your free trial to 90 days and if you make 3 purchases with Shoprunner within that time you get it extended for a year.

Update: some great ideas in the comments to this post, such as making a $1 donation to charity via PetSmart and sending $1 e-gift certificates via eBags. In both cases we’d want to know that miles post from the activity before ‘going large’. And there’s only a couple of weeks remaining for this promotion which doesn’t leave a ton of time for that to happen. But if PetSmart points post as quickly as some think they we’ll, we’ll know soon enough.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Anyone try this yet? I’m concerned that might notice all the orders and cancel them thinking they are duplicates caused by some kind of website glitch. Then you’d have lost time and still not get the miles.

  2. are you sure it’s 250 per purchase? Where do you see that?

    All I can find in terms is this:

    Earn 250 Bonus LifeMiles on your first e-Store purchase of US $50 or more
    – The bonus will be accredited to your account up to 40 days after your purchase
    – Bonus not applicable for Horizonte level classification
    – Miles can not be transferred and LifeMiles terms and conditions apply

    But not clear if it’s the same offer.

    also, if you’re going to buy something you don’t value, for the sake of the businesses and environment, buy something electronic. iTunes is a merchant on the store, go buy some fake rights to a stupid song or something.

  3. @mike “during October, 2012, you will receive 250 bonus miles for each purchase”

    iTunes won’t work — “Special Terms: Customer rewards can only be earned for first time purchases at the iTunes Store.”

  4. Is it advisable to call one’s credit card issuer prior to making say, 1000 74 cent purchases online?

  5. Are there unlimited free shipments with Shoprunner? You don’t think they will be concerned when there are 100 orders from the same place?

  6. @zz in the past, when I’ve made a lot of the same order, they’ve placed my account on review for “potential reseller activities,” but it was unfrozen after about 24 hours. the orders went through before the review though

  7. Just my 2 cents

    ordering multiple 74 cent mini shampoos that you really have no use for while passing on huge and real shipping costs to shoprunner just to earn miles seems so wrong to me. Yes you can do it, but should you?

  8. And do you recommend logging in to lifemiles “fresh” each time you make an order? I am going back to same merchant, milking the cow. Let’s hope they don’t do a “United” on me/us.

  9. Ebags sells e-mailed gift certificates for $1, sent instantly, with no shipping charge. There is no gift card exclusion for ebags in the Lifemiles e-store, although the ebags site does mention that gift cards are not eligible for discounts.

    Would this be a good way to take advantage of the promotion without requiring an online store to process/ship many small things?

  10. So, I went ahead and actually looked through my house with Mrs. Redcat and we found probably 50 things on that we could actually use. Their prices are quite competitive with BigBox retailers on everything from Q-Tips to face wash to tissues (99 cents for a box of Kleenex!). With no tax and no shipping, this was great for us.

    Obviously you won’t be able to really hit it hard just buying things you need, but for those concerned about ordering tons of shampoo, think about just looking for what you actually need. Toilet paper doesn’t go bad 😉

  11. Go to petsmart. Add a product. It can be anything. On checkout screen add $1 for charity. Then remove original product. Now you have. $1.00 with free shipping.

  12. Some interesting ideas. If $1 to charity at PetSmart earns points that credit to the LifeMiles mall that would be my favorite. If $1 eBags gift certificates earn points that is another great one. Challenge of course is knowing whether any given points will post correctly before the bonus ends, so no real opportunity to test this — perhaps someone reading this has tried either approach with this (or at least with *a) mileage mall in the past.

  13. When you checkout on, you will see the shipping option where you can choose Shoprunner and sign in into your Shoprunner account.

  14. Petsmarts estimated days to post show as 3 days. If the points show up we are good to go on the bonus. I also used PayPal to pay. Don’t have to sign up for petsmart account and its faster.

  15. @Mike S – petsmart apparently does, and the lifemiles page for each merchant will show a canadian flag for vendors who ship to canada – dunno if shoprunner will apply to canadian shipments.

  16. I hope I made the right decision buying $1<. Bought that shampoo you recommended a few times, but I'm still worried it will not qualify as a purchase because it's below a dollar. Does anyone know anything about "qualifying purchases" from Alot of the Petsmart things are instore from what I found (maybe I'm not looking) that's cheap (pet food anyone?)

  17. @Mike D — If you’re concerned, you can get a box of Puffs tissues for just over a dollar.

  18. “You have more than 700 online stores in the United States where you can earn miles per dollar spent, and during October, 2012, you will receive 250 bonus miles for each purchase.”

    I would think the wording on this is talking about two separate things: miles per dollar spent, and purchases.

    A purchase is a transaction.

    I may not be earning ANY miles per dollar spent, since I’m only spending 75 cents, but the bonus is for each purchase (transaction) and I’m making lots of those.

  19. this is interesting. will be following closely to see if those points post before i make my move 🙂

  20. I’m throwing in a few different purchases just to see how this plays out. Like buy an item below $1 and some above $1, maybe even different retailers (being careful on reading their T&C).

  21. @Mike – please report back. I would love to hear how your experimentation goes. I’m incline to simply do the $1 donation as a trial since that wont go to waste in the first place.

  22. @Mike D: I’m doing the same basic strategy, although everything I’m purchasing is through Tried 20 of the 75-cent shampoos, then tried 20 $1.09 toothpastes.

  23. @temptedtraveler: The T&C for Lifemiles’ eStore Bonus says, “Miles will be awarded in no more than 45 days after the purchase.”

  24. @temptedtraveler – don’t worry, i’ll post when I have any info.

    anyone pick up the third party language in the Lifemiles redirect page to or know what that means?

  25. @Mike D: I’m guessing that has affiliations with third party sellers on their site, so if you order something from them, you’ll be SOL. Luckily our toothpastes and shampoos and other products are all stocked by, sold by them, and shipped by them.

  26. @Seth @phatjack that’s the terms of the Lifemiles shop itself not of the October promotion which clearly status “you will receive 250 bonus miles for each purchase” and contains its own T&C (on the page I linked to)

  27. I wonder if the Walgreens branded products ship from or if they’re considered 3rd party

  28. #48… the promo T&C refer to the overall shopping T&C, which seems to overrule the promo T&Cs. I would be very cautious and only buy what I actually would want. You’ll have about a 1% of winning this should LM decide to not post the miles

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