As much as we talk about the amazing value you can get when redeeming miles and points for First or Business Class products, accruing large amount of miles enough for such a trip can be difficult. Once in a while, airlines will sell miles directly. Often these represent great opportunities to bulk up your account for an amazing trip.
Buy LifeMiles with a 130% Bonus
LifeMiles, the frequent flyer division of Avianca, is currently running a great promotion on miles. They usually sell miles at a rate of US$33 per 1,000 miles. It’s not uncommon to see them do a “2 for 1” promotion, but as an Early Bird Special, they are throwing in a 30% bonus.
You only get the bonus if you purchase at least 101,000 LifeMiles, which would cost $3333.00. At this rate, though, you will get 232,300 miles for 1.44 cents a piece.
Avianca is a Star Alliance member, and therefore you can redeem their miles on Star Alliance flights. They also have a pretty decent award chart, which you can check out here. This promotion runs from today to September 10.
Fly Lufthansa First Class for $1250 One-Way
One of the recent improvement to the LifeMiles program is that they now itineraries that have mixed cabins. They now also allow access to Lufthansa First Class seats, which they previously blocked. This is one of my favorite ways to use LifeMiles.
For example, I can redeem 87,000 LifeMiles for a First Class seat on Lufthansa’s flight from Frankfurt to Washington DC, which I can buy for ~$1250:
If I were to pay cash directly, however, the flight costs a whopping $8696. Granted, this is a last-minute flight, and Lufthansa generally does not open award space until 2 weeks prior, but you can still see the value to be had with LifeMiles.
One feature of LifeMiles redemption is “Flexible Payment.” This means that if you don’t have all the miles required to redeem an award, you can choose to pay cash for a portion of it. As long as you have 40% of the miles required for a ticket, you can “buy” the rest of the points for 1.56 cents apiece.
Using the same Lufthsana flight as an example, the award costs 87,000 LifeMiles. However, I can choose to only use 35,000 miles, and “buy” the rest of the points for $811.52.
LifeMiles’ customer service phone line is notoriously difficult to deal with. While theoretically you can change or cancel your itineraries, their phone line is such a nightmare that I essentially treat any LifeMiles redemption as “final sale.”
Additionally, LifeMiles does not have access to all Star Alliance seats. For example, Swiss restricts their First Class redemptions to Senator level elite members in their Miles & More program, and Singapore Airlines restricts their premium cabin redemptions to KrisFlyer members. These exceptions are certainly not unique to LifeMiles, but are worth mentioning.
Finally, you are only allowed to receive up to 345,000 miles (bonus included) in any promotion. If you have hit that limit already, you can still buy miles, but only at the usual 3.3 cents/mile rate. I would definitely NOT buy miles at that rate!
Should You Buy LifeMiles for 1.4 Cents Apiece?
I am going use the cop out answer and say “it depends.” Frankly, this is a rate at which I will buy points speculatively. Our family makes a few trips a year, and award tickets get expensive when you’re redeeming for four! As long as you are earning and burning, LifeMiles at this rate represents a great value.
However, ultimately it is up to you to decide whether you will have a use for these miles. Earn and burn—hoarding miles is never a good idea!
Which Card Should You Use?
Buying LifeMiles is somewhat special, in that the airline itself processes the payment. This means that the charge shows up as an airline charge on your credit card bill. I recommend using a credit card that has travel or airlines as a bonus category.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – 3x points on travel expenses
- Citi Prestige – 3x points on airlines purchases
- American Express Premier Rewards Gold card – 3x points on airline purchases
You can jump on this promo and buy LifeMiles here.