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 drugstore.com — 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 drugstore.com 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 drugstore.com the way they do with some websites, but certainly not something I’d risk.

What I like about using drugstore.com 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 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. yes Zz, the only thing we CAN agree on is that the gal in the ad for this gig is kinda cute.
    Other than that, I would be really worried about miles posting unless lucky. Then again I could be wrong.

  2. Incentive Networks appears to run the LifeMiles e-store, so it’s not FC and Craptera. But this group does partner with Intuit and Points.com, as well as Melaleuka. All three have issues in my opinion. Points.com can work but is notorious for not responding to issues of missing miles. Intuit has been known to hold users funds for 270+ days for phone swiper problems where they assume fraud even if there is none (and you have to prove your innocence and wait), and Melaleuka is one of those gigs where you have to buy their cleaning products only through a certain type of agent and sign up for the program much like a 1980s pyramid scheme. To quit them is hard to do too.

    That said, at least they are run by a different mall entity than most airlines and hotels.

  3. @jfhscott Thank you! But I think it is my billing address that the website doesn’t let my transaction to go through… I can’t fake a billing address because it will not match my palpay account or credit card… Sigh… But still thank you for your advice. XD

  4. Interestingly enough, for now at least, it appears as though the TRESemme Moisture Rich Vitamin E Shampoo for Dry or Damaged Hair 3 fl oz is out of stock at drugstore.com.

    TRESemme Moisture Rich Vitamin E Shampoo for Dry or Damaged Hair 32 fl oz is available for a price: $5.99

  5. When continueing the shopping,

    do I have to reopen the web via lifemiles estore??

    or just click the continue shopping in the bottom??

    I’m shopping in drugstore.

  6. My petsmart donations via PayPal posted! As did the $1.00 to Ebags and a .99 to ebooks. Looks like under .99 will work. It’s on. Like Donkey Kong.

  7. @ Sky

    What exactly posted? Did you get the 250 points per purchase? Or did you simply get the order history posted to your LifeMiles account? What is it showing as “estimated days to paid”?

  8. @jack

    My purchases show as pending and how many miles I will get for each. The 250 won’t show for another 45 days but that’s not what everyone was waiting for. We simply wanted to know if the $1 petsmart donation would post miles….and it did. This simply confirms the TRANSACTION. We can then argue later on if LM gives us any guff. Days to posting on petsmart is 91. Ouch. Ebooks is only 30 though. Still…save the puppies!

  9. 45 days is the timeline for posting of the 3 pts per $ that is standard for the LifeMiles e-store. But the promotion explicitly stated a maximum of 45 days to post the 250. So I guess the two timelines are separate?

  10. I’m not participating but I wish you guys luck. A-T may or may not pull it or give trouble to those who took advantage of the offer, but there’s no reason for them not to have known that people would buy a bunch of $1 items. This promo has been done over and over and always cost the airline big-time. I feel no sympathy for A-T if they end up forking out a ton of miles.

  11. Any suggestions for best credit card and strategy to doing this? i’m thinking of calling Chase and letting them know that 100’s of $1 purchases are coming…

  12. Looks like eBags is trying to remove themselves from this. The following is an email I received after purchasing some $1 gift certificates on eBags.

    “Hello again, we are not participating in the miles promotion you are using and are researching how our company got associated with this promotion.”

  13. Like many early birds, I got the 3 points “posted” in color green for my donations. Is save the puppies still a GO? I mean if they posted 3 points then it must still be a valid transaction or valid purchase, right?

  14. Not only is drugstore.com removed, but when I click all of my “purchases” through LifeMiles, all of the drugstore.com posting dates are showing up as blank. Looks like they’ve decided to not credit anything even though everything has shipped. Not a good business decision on their part – if they don’t want to honor the points, I’ll just mark “return to sender” on every box they’ve sent me, as nothing has been opened.

  15. @saxorob — I noticed the same thing. I’m not optimistic about anything posting at this point, but I’d say there still a slight chance.

  16. If they’re trying to undo it then I’d be done personally (and in fact in full disclosure I am not currently making transactions)

  17. Yeah, before it was a crap-shoot and now it might really be one. I guess one would really have to fight for purchases made from now on stating that webpage still has the old terms.

  18. no miles will post!!! what a waste of time and money to all the greedy ones, lifemiles is a very nice program to have miles in, all you freeloaders do is ruin it for the members of the program.

  19. @Ellen

    why so hostile? You are a freeloader too, which is why you are here. Kettle, how black are you?

    And quite frankly, the award availability is horrific on LM right now

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