Get 15% More Avianca LifeMiles When You Transfer Amex Points
Last November, Amerian Express made news when they added the Avianca LifeMiles program as a Membership Rewards transfer partner. While Avianca is a Colombian airline that flies mostly within South America, their frequent flyer program is one of the cheapest ways to fly from the U.S. to Asia. Or first class to Europe. Or on short hops within the U.S.
Currently, American Express is running a great promo, offering a 15 percent bonus when transferring Membership Rewards points to your Avianca LifeMiles account through April 1. You may not use Avianca LifeMiles or know much about their LifeMiles program, but you should, even if you never step foot on an Avianca plane.
Because of Avianca’s membership in the Star Alliance, you can use LifeMiles to book flights on Taipei-based EVA Air, Germany’s Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada, United Airlines, and more.
LifeMiles is an unheralded gem in the frequent flyer mile world, combining low rates when using miles, few cash fees, and a decent booking platform.
Good Award Chart and No Fees
Some frequent flyer mile programs have great award rates but pass on hundreds of dollars in fees. Others protect flyers from big cash surcharges but want more miles than the competition for a given flight.
LifeMiles offers the best of both worlds. That’s a rarity, and that’s what makes it so valuable.
Every airline is different when it comes to passing on fees on award tickets. There are airport fees, fuel surcharges, local taxes, and more, and each airline decides which of those to pass on to flyers using miles and which to swallow.
LifeMiles does not pass on fuel surcharges no matter which airline you’re flying on with your miles. Instead, LifeMiles tacks on a standard $25 award fee as well as some modest taxes.
And when it comes time to fork over miles, LifeMiles is also reasonable. Check out its full award chart, which breaks down how many miles you’ll pay based on which regions you fly between.
There are some great deals to be had with LifeMiles and the transfer bonus from Membership Rewards only makes them better. We will highlight a few of our favorites below.
Thrifty Tip: Not familiar with how to transfer Membership Rewards to partner airlines? See our complete guide here.
United Shorthaul Economy Awards
In 2017, LifeMiles introduced the ability to book short haul award tickets for travel within the United States on United Airlines.
This means that travel within any of the three regions will cost 7,500 miles one-way (would cost 12,500 booking with United). Traveling from group 1 to group 2 costs 10,000 miles one-way (would cost 12,500 booking with United). The states included in each region are listed as follows.
Factor in the 15% Membership Rewards transfer bonus and you can book domestic flights on United starting at 14,000 points roundtrip.
One Way Business & First Class Awards to Europe
One of the best things about the LifeMiles program is the ability to book one-way award tickets (unlike other Star Alliance partners like ANA). As mentioned above, they also don’t tack on any fuel surcharges so it is a great option for getting around the world in premium cabins.
With LifeMiles, it is possible to fly to Europe for just 63,000 miles in business class and only 87,000 miles in first class, one-way, making it is our favorite way to book the coveted Lufthansa first class cabin.
Per the screenshot below, you can use Avianca LifeMiles to book a one-way first class ticket on Lufthansa for 87,000 miles and only $30 in taxes and fees.
Factor in the 15% transfer bonus from Amex Membership Rewards and you are only out 76,000 points.
One Way Business & First Class Awards to Asia
Much like Europe, LifeMiles is a great way to get to Asia in a premium Star Alliance cabin. With LifeMiles, it is possible to fly to Asia from the US for just 78,000 miles in business class and only 90,000 miles in first class, one-way.
For his honeymoon, Thrifty Traveler Editor Kyle booked a one-way business class award ticket from Chicago (ORD) to Taipei (TPE) on EVA Air for 78,000 LifeMiles and $31.10 in taxes and fees. You can read his full review of the experience here.
Factor in the transfer bonus from Amex Membership Rewards and you would only need to transfer 68,000 miles to have the required 78,000 LifeMiles for booking.
These transfer bonuses from American Express are one of the main reasons we think Amex Membership Rewards are one of the top transferable points currencies out there. If you want to take advantage of this, don’t wait as the offer expires on 4/1/19.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.