Avianca LifeMiles is offering a way to purchase a lot of miles at a steep discount without a large cash outlay up front: you can now subscribe to buy miles on a monthly plan, which looks like it can bring your cost as low as 1.39 cents per mile if you continue your subscription for an entire year — though I think the best you’ll do is really 1.41 cents per mile (which still might be attractive). Personally, I don’t think I’d want to commit to buying miles 12 months from now as the landscape can change and devaluations can come without notice. However, if the award chart stays the same, this could certainly be a great value for those who can take advantage of some of Avianca’s great values.
- Subscribe to buy life miles at low rates per mile if you pay monthly for a full year
- Plans start at $10.99/mo for 500 miles each month (8,000 miles per year after bonuses) and go up to $129.99/mo for 8,000 miles per month (112,000 miles per year after bonuses).
- Direct link to subscription plans
- Link to the LifeMiles award chart for reference
- Membership will auto-renew after 12 months
- Miles don’t count towards status
- Subscriptions include a number of base miles and bonuses to be paid out after 3, 6, 9, and 12 months
- Purchases are nonrefundable
- See full terms on checkout page before purchase
Avianca is selling these subscriptions as a paid monthly model that pays a “bonus” four times a year. In order to get the low rate of 1.39 cents per mile, you would not only have to commit to the most expensive plan ($129.99 per month), but you would also need to complete the entire year. Unfortunately, this is why I think your miles will cost more than 1.39 cents each. The terms state that if you cancel, you will keep all of the miles you have received, but will not receive any bonuses that have not yet been credited. As the terms state that the bonus will be paid after 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, my bet is that you won’t see the final balloon 12-month bonus until after you’ve paid for at least a 13th month. The largest possible package (and therefore the cheapest per-mile cost) is a total of 112,000 miles over 12 months at $129.99 per month.
That subscription buys you 8,000 miles per month. That only totals to 96,000 miles per year. The remaining 16,000 miles are paid out in bonuses throughout the year:
- 1,600 bonus miles after your 3rd month
- 2,400 miles after your 6th month
- 4,000 miles after your 9th month
- 8,000 miles after your 12th month
I imagine that the final 8,000 miles won’t post to your account until after you have paid for the 13th month, meaning that you will have purchased a total of 120,000 miles for a total cost of $1,689.97 — or an average of about 1.41 cents per mile. That’s not a bad price for LifeMiles if you have a good use for them. I recently wrote about my first experience redeeming LifeMiles, where I took advantage of the great award prices that exist on flights within North America (See: My first Avianca LifeMiles redemption: easy as…). The flight for which I redeemed 7,500 miles regularly goes for about $250 one-way (due to low competition rather than United’s spectacular domestic economy product). If I were regularly flying that route and I knew I could reliably find United saver space, this sale might be fairly appealing to me.
And that’s not the only sweet spot on Avianca’s chart. We recently added United domestic first class between US 1 and US 2 (which covers 38 of the 48 continental states) for 15,000 miles each way to our Best options for domestic first class awards resource page. With 120,000 miles per year, you could fly 4 round trips in domestic first across quite a wide part of the US. Alternatively, with 120K miles you could fly from the US and Canada to anywhere in South America round trip in business class or from Hawaii to South Asia or Oceania round trip in business class. For some, those kinds of options for less than $1700 might be appealing.
Notably, I don’t know how this will affect your ability to buy miles in their frequent sales — Avianca usually caps the number of miles you can purchase per year and often runs bonuses where you can buy miles at approximately this rate (sometimes even a bit cheaper). Will the miles from your subscription count against the cap? I have no idea.
Again, I don’t think I’d put myself on the hook for 13 months of payments on the hopes that LifeMiles maintain their value — but there are certainly worse gambles and it could certainly work out very well for those who can leverage the miles well.
H/T: View from the Wing