Ah, now the secret plan comes out.
Just one month ago, LifeMiles announced that they are changing the rules to how frequent flyer miles in their program expire. Previously, miles expire after 24 months of account inactivity. Under the new policy, which goes into effect April 15, 2018, miles will expire if you don’t have any mileage accruing activities in a 12-month period. This new policy was seen as a double hit, since (1) miles now expire in a year, instead of two, and (2) only activities that earn miles will extend that expiration date.
Club LifeMiles: Buy Miles with a Monthly Subscription
Just today, folks on FlyerTalk discovered that LifeMiles’ website has a new page, called Club LifeMiles. It would appear that Club LifeMiles is a new subscription service, by which you can purchase a set number of miles (at a discount) per month. If you commit for an entire year, you will get a year-end bonus on top of your monthly balance.
I have to say, this is pretty ingenious. LifeMiles knows that many “die hard” fans might be getting concerned that their balance will begin to expire, and will be looking for a way to extend the life of their miles (ahem, sorry). This subscription gives them a way to basically extend the expiration date every month, by purchasing miles at a discount monthly.
Folks at Avianca’s LifeMiles are not stupid—they know how people earn their miles, and how people use them. If anything, this subscription service is a blatant admission to that. LifeMiles is not so much a frequently flyer program for Avianca, but rather a money maker that essentially liquidates Star Alliance miles.
Are the Subscription Plans a Good Deal?
Obviously, all of the miles bought under this program represent a discount from the regular price of 3.3 cents apiece. However, I am not sure Club LifeMiles represents the best deal.
Under the subscription plan, you can buy a set number of miles per month, and if you commit for a year, you also get a year-end bonus. Here is how the math works out:
|Plan (# of Miles)||Monthly Cost||Cost per Mile||Cost per Mile (With Bonus)|
|Plan 500||$10.99||2.20 cents||1.65 cents|
|Plan 1000||$19.99||2.00 cents||1.60 cents|
|Plan 2000||$32.99||1.65 cents||1.41 cents|
|Plan 3000||$49.99||1.67 cents||1.41 cents|
|Plan 6000||$92.99||1.55 cents||1.39 cents|
|Plan 8000||129.99||1.62 cents||1.39 cents|
However, LifeMiles run promotions on the sale of their miles multiple times per year. Even a modest bonus, like 130%, will allow you to buy miles at 1.44 cents each. In recent years, we have seen bonuses up to 150%, which allows you to buy miles at 1.32 cents apiece.
Even without a bonus, LifeMiles allows to use a “Cash + Points” option when you checkout. As long as you have 40% of the require miles in your account, you can buy the rest for as little as 1.5 cents each.
Is Club LifeMiles Good News? Bad News?
These days, promotions and cheap pricing on miles is one of the few things that still get people excited about LifeMiles. Gone are the days of tricking the engine into pricing a route in our favors, and LifeMiles continues to block some Star Alliance award space. Still, I’d argue that there is still value to be had with LifeMiles—their award chart is competitively priced, their cheap miles enable you to basically fly premium cabins at a discount, and redemptions for domestic tickets on United are very good.
So what is LifeMiles’ ultimate goal in coming up with a subscription service like this?
The optimistic me is saying that this is just one more way that LifeMiles is hoping to generate revenue from selling miles. And if you are someone who usually buy miles in bulk when a promotion comes around, you might be able to benefit from these packages, by buying a $10.99 one subscription and then immediately canceling it, effectively extending your expiration date by a year for just 11 bucks.
The pessimistic me is saying that this might signal an end to the generous bonuses we have seen in the past. That would be a shame, because LifeMiles is already on thin ice with a (somehow increasingly) buggy online booking engine, routing limitations, and award space blocking. Discontinuation of the sort of generous bonuses we’ve seen might just stop people from using LifeMiles altogether.
So, what do you think of this new subscription service from LifeMiles?