Avianca’s LifeMiles is one of the program where I always keep a stash of miles around as backup. They often sell miles on the cheap with generous promotions, and offer the ability to buy points at 1.5 cents a piece when doing a “Cash + Miles” booking. Tickets are generally bookable online or via e-mail with no phone interactions necessary, and they have access to almost all Star Alliance award space. Additionally, you can redeem their miles on United’s domestic flights for even cheaper than what United charges. All of this means I’m willing to overlook their now expensive change and redeposit policies, and their quirky engine that doesn’t always show intelligence in routing an itinerary.
Currently, the LifeMiles expiration policy states that miles do not expire if you have any account activity within the past 24 months. This is more generous than some (like United Airlines and American Airlines, where miles expire after 18 months of activity), while of course less generous than others (like Delta, where miles never expire).
The New LifeMiles Expiration Policy
I received an email earlier today, encouraging me to “extend the validity of all miles.” The email ended with “it has never been so easy to earn LifeMiles,” so naturally I knew some sort of devaluation was on its way (I’m cynical, I know).
It would appear that starting April 15, 2018, LifeMiles will expire after 12 months of “inactivity,” and only earning LifeMiles will extend the expiration of your miles. In other words, redeeming LifeMiles will no longer count as an eligible activity to extend the life of your miles.
There are some exceptions to this: any miles earned by a LifeMiles member holding their elite status, or any miles earned through a cobranded LifeMiles credit card will extend the validity of all miles in the account by 24 months.
As of April 15th 2018, every time you earn miles with Avianca or via any other commercial partner, the validity of all miles in your account will extend for at least 12 months. If you are an Elite Member or an Avianca LifeMiles Credit or Debit Card holder, every time you accrue miles the validity of all the miles in your account will extend for 24 months.
You can check out the full terms and conditions here, which specifically say that miles transferred in from other loyalty programs do not count as eligible accrual activity.
There remains a few question to be answered: the blurb above would suggest that as long as you’re a cobranded card holder, your miles earned (through any channel) would have a 24-month expiration policy. However, the full terms and conditions suggest that only earning activity from the card extend miles by 24 months. I’m going to be conservative and suggest that just holding the card and not putting any spend on it won’t help extend the life of your miles before we get any official clarifications.
Additionally, LifeMiles is a transfer partner of SPG and Citi ThankYou. However, the terms and conditions didn’t make it clear whether transfers from those programs will extend the life of miles. (As in, do those count as “loyalty programs?”)
Starting April 15, 2018, most people will have to earn some LifeMiles every 12 months in order to keep their account activity, and therefore their miles valid.
This is definitely a devaluation, and a “double hit” at that. Not only is LifeMiles shortening the lifespan of miles to 12 months, they will now only count accrual (and not redemption) as an eligible activity to expand the validity of miles.
To be fair, they are giving us at least 3 months of advanced notice, and all miles earned prior to April 15, 2018 will still maintain the 24-month expiration policy. They are also not going the route of Singapore Airlines, where miles expire after a certain number years, regardless of earning or redemption activities.
However, this policy is still decidedly customer-unfriendly. If anything, it’s as though LifeMiles is sending a message: fly with us, or use our cobranded card. And if you’re only gonna buy our miles and never fly with us, at least keep buying them every year.