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.