Up to 125% Bonus on Purchased Star Alliance Miles, as Low as 1.47 Cents Each

Last week Matthew Vincett, CEO of LifeMiles, told me to expect a return of their 100% bonus on purchased miles May 3. And indeed it’s back. Go to the purchase miles page and log in. I’m actually offered up to a 125% bonus through May 31.

Vincett sees offering miles for sale inexpensively as win-win for the program and the consumer. Flexible consumers who can travel on award tickets gain access to travel less expensively than if they were buying tickets directly. And the program generates revenue that’s greater than its redemption cost.

Star Alliance member Avianca has really useful miles (that have gotten more useful over the past few months!) through the LifeMiles program:

  • No fuel surcharges
  • Reasonable award chart
  • They sell miles cheap

Recently their miles have gotten more valuable because they’ve gotten more flexible, allowing mixed cabin redemptions and Lufthansa first class redemptions.

Not all connections are bookable, you’re pretty much limited to the options you see on their redemption website (which is quite good) and telephone customer service is challenging (e-mail is better).

With this offer I can buy miles for as little as 1.47 cents apiece. For many programs, that’s a great price. However LifeMiles sometimes sells miles as inexpensively as 1.35 cents, so there’s no rush.

One interesting thing about LifeMiles is that the cost to transfer and buy miles varies based on the country your account is registered in though of course this is largely a taxation issue and the US doesn’t tax the sale of miles by non-US based programs. (Because US tax rules on the sale of miles make some basic mistaken assumptions, which you can challenge.)

I don’t recommend hoarding miles. LifeMiles has made changes to their award chart in the past without notice. However, Vincett tells me that they found certain awards (and certain routings) that weren’t profitable for them at the low price point at which they sell miles. He says they’ve eliminated those and they’re confident of the math. Last year I did max out on purchased miles from LifeMiles.

Terms and conditions:

  • The bonus percentage is according to the table shown above and is calculated based on the miles purchased per individual transaction without taking into account the 2×1 bonus.
  • The miles must be purchased in multiples of 1,000
  • The minimum miles to purchase per transaction is 2,000 LifeMiles. If the member purchases less than 2,000 LifeMiles per transaction such transaction will be processed successfully but without granting the bonus shown in the table above.
  • The maximum miles to purchase per transaction during this promotion to receive the bonus showed in the table above is 150,000 LifeMiles if the Member has not purchased miles in 2016 or 150,000 LifeMiles minus the miles previously purchased by the Member in 2016.
  • The Member may purchase miles outside of the limits showed in the table above but in such case the transactions will be processed but no bonuses will be granted.
  • The maximum amount of miles to receive by a member per calendar year is 150,000 LifeMiles (including miles purchased and bonuses received). If the member surpasses the limit, through purchases made during this promotion and other purchases in 2016, taking into account the bonuses received for those purchases, he or she will not be able to purchase any more miles until the next calendar year.
  • Each package of 1,000 LifeMiles costs USD $33.00 without applicable taxes and USD $40.26* including applicable taxes according to correspondence country registered in the LifeMiles database**
  • Only form of payment through Avianca’s Call Center and LifeMiles.com: credit card or international debit card. Cash payments are only allowed at Avianca’s Information Centers. Other Conditions: The receipt of the transaction will reflect the total number of miles accrued to the member’s account, including the bonus miles and the total charge for the transaction.
  • This promotion applies for miles purchases made between May 3rd and May 31st, 2016 (between 00.00-12.00 GMT -5, Colombia).
  • The miles purchased and earned with this promotion do not apply to achieve or maintain the Elite status.
  • The purchase of miles is an immediate execution contract. Once the payment is made, the miles will be accrued immediately on the members account. As of that moment the miles can be used according to the terms and conditions of the LifeMiles Program. For these reasons the purchase of miles is a contract that cannot be resolved and retraction or similar rights according to applicable law are not applicable.
  • Miles are not endorsable.
  • Miles purchase is available through Avianca’s Call Centers, LifeMiles.com and Avianca Information Centers. For residents of Curacao it is only available through LifeMiles.com and Avianca’s Call Centers. For residents of Venezuela, it is only available through LifeMiles.com.
  • Does not apply to the Flexible Redemption (miles + money) during the payment process of air ticket redemption.
  • Miles purchased, once accrued, can be redeemed in accordance with the conditions specified in the LifeMiles Program Terms and Conditions and the portfolio of products and services available for redemption.
  • LifeMiles Terms and Conditions apply. LifeMiles is a trademark of LifeMiles B.V.
  • *For residents in Colombia: the values are settled based on Colombia’s exchange rate on the date of the transaction. For residents in Peru each package of 1,000 miles has a cost of USD 38,94 or S/.126.6 including taxes. Prices in Nuevos Soles reflect the reference exchange rate to April 25th 2016: S/. 3.25 Per 1 USD dollar. Final prices in Nuevos Soles will be determined bases on the exchange rate of the date of the transaction. For residents in Costa Rica the values are settled based on the exchange rate issued by IATA. For the rest of the countries the values are settled based on the exchange rate of the date of the transaction. **The price can be lower depending of the correspondence country entered on the Member’s profile in their LifeMiles account.

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. On the LifeMiles subject… I received a letter recently from US Bank. They said my LifeMiles credit card was being converted to a FlexPerks card and I would get 20K points for 3 month $500 spend.

  2. You don’t want to earn 1 LifeMile per dollar anyway, you’re better off earning 2% cash back and then buying LifeMiles with the cash…

  3. If that reply was to me I was really just wanting to know if you had heard anything of US Bank dropping/losing LifeMiles card..

  4. @Carlos it’s not the airline’s routes but rather unprofitable routings like being able to book transatlantic flights as German domestic awards 😉

  5. I flew AV before but I never signed up for LM. I just did today after reading this post. Then I found out:
    it costs 41,000 miles plus $52 in fees to fly r/t ORD-SCL in economy and I’ll have to pay: $693 in cash get those miles. In total, it’ll cost me $745 when I redeem the miles for this flight.

    Google Flight shows throughout this summer, you can fly for as low as $665.

    So does this make sense to stock up some life miles now?

  6. Buying miles for economy is only a good deal in very very limited circumstances. Much better value for premium cabin redemption.

  7. How easy is it to use Lifemiles (technically) and are there good options from LAX where you can actually redeem miles?

  8. Hi Gary, As you have the ear of the CEO, can you please advise him that the website for redemption bookings is probably the least customer friendly booking engine in existence and that there are many, many LM members who would purchase more miles if the website was user friendly and more transparent with routing rules/combinations. It’s a lottery at the best of times. There are myriad posts and threads on various travel forums discussing the frustrations and tribulations of LM members. It should be pretty obvious to the managers responsible that there is a lot of work to be done before the masses will hand over their cash for LM “miles” so readily.

  9. @jediwho

    I bought Lifemiles for about the same price roughly a year ago, and have gotten really great value out of them.

    I like flexibility and last minute flights (from a few days to a couple weeks) are pretty common for me along with one ways from place to place.

    I also fly from LAX or LAS (and it’s cheap to fly from there to another airport, I flew EVA business to Taipei out of Houston).

    If you don’t want to accumulate miles through spending or bonuses, or don’t want to wait for that long etc, this is the best option to get heavily discounted biz class and first class flights internationally.

    I may hold off and buy when they have another 150% sale though.

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