Why Avianca’s LifeMiles is a Useful Program Addition to the Star Alliance

I haven’t spent a great deal of time parsing through the AviancaTaca Lifemiles program yet, I’ve glanced at it occasionally in the past because they frequently offer 100% bonuses on purchased miles (eg here, here, and here.

That deal never quite worked for me with their limited airline partnerships, but now that they’ve joined Star Alliance it’s looking mighty attractive.

  • The award chart is pretty reasonable (across the board, but also some sweet spots like North America to Southern Africa for 100,000 miles roundtrip in business class)
  • One-way awards are available for half the cost of roundtrip.
  • They offer cash and points awards bookings. As long as you have at least 40% of the miles needed for an award in your account, you can buy the difference in miles for US$12.75 per 1000 miles.
  • No fuel surcharges on awards
  • Online booking of Star Alliance partners

Miles expire after 24 months of inactivity. Star Alliance Gold takes 40,000 miles which is reasonable but it won’t work for many North America-only or flyers who don’t head to South or Central America as they do require you to fly at least 10,000 miles on their own aircraft in order to earn the status.

I’ll be digging into the program in more depth going forward, but am getting myself an account in hopes of a future 100% bonus on purchased points sale.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Do they have fuel surcharges or fees on the longhaul flights? e.g. North American to Southern Africa?

  2. How can I book Avianca flights using either US Airways miles and/or United? Do I go directly to their site? Thanks

  3. Looks like they have a US Bank credit card open to US residents – only a 20K Mi bonus though.

  4. The biggest issue I see is the website’s inability to combine business and economy on a business award.

  5. There has been reports that REDEMPTION tickets on them accrue EQM/RDM miles. But in digging into the Ts&Cs it’s kind of vague. Have you found out anything otherwise?

  6. And the kicker is? Lifemiles has access to SQ/LX and LH business class where United has none 🙂

  7. FYI-I just jumped on a 40K invitation-only offer from US Bank for the life miles card. I had a Distancia account but hadn’t flown on Taca in years. I already had another US Bank card, so maybe that’s what got me the invite.

  8. nd the kicker is? Lifemiles has access to SQ/LX and LH business class where United has none

    SQ J on the A380 or 77W ?

  9. What’s the deal with the US Bank 40k promo – is there an invitation code for that?

  10. #15–Yes, there was a customer-specific invitation code for that, nothing I can share unfortunately.

  11. Hi Gary! Do you know what’s their rules for stopover and open-jaw? Any late-booking fees?

  12. US Bank offers LifeMiles credit cards in a variety of formats, all of which waive the annual fee the first year. They range from a Visa Signature with a 20k signing bonus + 6k bonus every year to a secured credit card for people with very bad credit.

    Check with a US Bank banker in-branch (it helps if you have your checking, savings, etc. there) about the 40k promo. In my experience, the banker I usually work with knows the right people to get in touch with for credit card promos.

  13. Thanks for pointing this out. I had not been paying attention to this. The ability to buy unlimited miles is great. I noticed in your old posts, that they charged 25$ per 1000 mile blocks. They have it listed at 30$ now; was this a recent increase?

    The other question is cash and points. Am I wrong, but doesn’t that sound like a great deal? Just keep 40-50% of the miles and then essentially you are purchasing the rest for better than the 100% promo. Could you still take advantage of this if you have the full amount of miles for an award, just decide to use 40% and buy the rest?

    Thanks again.

  14. My LifeMiles Crad No. is 29441871.I have been requesting a new card for two years to no avail. I stopped at El Dorado airport in Bogota in one of my trips who apparently placed the same in a garbage can.

    Will you please issue me a new card:

    My address in the United States is:

    83-30 VIETOR AVENUE, APT. 304
    ELMHURST, NY 11373

  15. cant seem to find their award chart for star alliance, how much miles needed for SE Asia award in J. could you do a calculation of mile purchase bonus for such award. thanks.

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