- Advertisement -
TravelEarning and redeeming Avianca LifeMiles: Guide to valuable loyalty program

Earning and redeeming Avianca LifeMiles: Guide to valuable loyalty program

While navigating a foreign airline’s frequent flyer program may seem daunting, your savings on award travel can be significant. This is particularly true for Colombian airline Avianca and its surprisingly valuable LifeMiles frequent flyer program.

LifeMiles offers highly appealing redemption rates for Star Alliance awards and additional unique features that make this program worth your attention. Let’s delve into everything you need to know about Avianca LifeMiles.

How to earn Avianca LifeMiles


Cardless recently launched two new LifeMiles-branded credit cards in the United States:

  • Avianca LifeMiles Elite American Express Card: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles — 60,000 miles awarded after $4,500 spent in the first 90 days and an additional 40,000 miles after $25,000 spent in the first 365 days. Earn 3 LifeMiles per dollar spent on Avianca purchases, 2 LifeMiles per dollar spent on dining and non-Avianca travel, and 1 LifeMile per dollar spent on all other purchases. Other benefits include a 10% award redemption discount on Star Alliance flights, 500 bonus LifeMiles each month, a 25%-off award redemption discount on Avianca flights and Star Alliance Silver status for as long as you have the card. Annual fee: $249.
  • Avianca LifeMiles American Express Card: Earn a bonus of up to 40,000 LifeMiles after spending $3,000 with the card in the first 90 days. Earn 2 LifeMiles per dollar spent on Avianca purchases, groceries and restaurants, and 1 LifeMile per dollar spent on all other purchases. Other benefits include Star Alliance Silver status for as long as you have the card. Annual fee: $99.

The information for the Avianca LifeMiles Elite and Avianca LifeMiles cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The cards details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

You can also transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points, Capital One miles, Bilt Rewards points, Wells Fargo Rewards points and Citi ThankYou Rewards points to your LifeMiles account at a 1:1 ratio. These transferable rewards programs sometimes offer transfer bonuses.

Additionally, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 ratio. Unlike with most major programs, you won’t receive the 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer; LifeMiles was one of the programs that lost this feature in 2022.

Beyond credit cards, Avianca often offers regular discounts on LifeMiles purchases. In the past, we have seen prices drop as low as 1.2 cents per mile, although the typical sale price ranges from 1.3 to 1.35 cents per mile. These rates are significantly lower than TPG’s valuation of LifeMiles at 1.7 cents each. While buying points speculatively is generally not recommended, these sales can be a good option if you have a specific redemption in mind.

If you frequently travel on paid tickets with Star Alliance carriers, it might be worth considering crediting your miles to Avianca. This can be advisable if you find more value in the LifeMiles program than in other options like United MileagePlus or Air Canada Aeroplan. Crediting your miles to Avianca is also beneficial if you don’t travel enough to earn elite status but still want to maximize your redemption opportunities.

Daily Newsletter

Reward your inbox with the TPG Daily newsletter

Join over 700,000 readers for breaking news, in-depth guides and exclusive deals from TPG’s experts

Related: Where to credit paid flights in each alliance for the most possible points

How to redeem Avianca LifeMiles


As a member of Star Alliance, Avianca allows you to use your LifeMiles for flights on the carrier or any of its partners. Additionally, Avianca has partnerships with Gol Airlines and Iberia, providing opportunities to earn and redeem LifeMiles on select flights operated by these airlines.

LifeMiles follows a standard zone-based award chart for most flights. However, flights within the U.S. sometimes deviate from the standard award chart. Dynamic pricing is typically unfavorable. However, these discrepancies have often worked in favor of travelers, offering advantageous redemption options.

Here’s a one-way economy flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) that prices out 1,000 miles cheaper than Avianca’s award chart suggests:


Redeeming LifeMiles is typically straightforward. You log in to the LifeMiles website and search for your desired award flight.

However, it is important to note that while Avianca should have access to the same Star Alliance award availability as United Airlines and Air Canada, the carrier’s information technology is known to have limitations. This can result in phantom award space, where seats appear online but are not bookable.

Conversely, Avianca may not always display available award space on United or Air Canada. Therefore, it is advisable to double-check your search using another Star Alliance search engine or tools like ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures) before transferring points to Avianca. This ensures you have accurate and up-to-date information before proceeding with your redemption.

Related: The best websites to search for Star Alliance award availability

Avianca LifeMiles sweet spots


In most cases, you are faced with a trade-off between low award rates and high fuel surcharges or spending more miles to avoid extra costs. However, LifeMiles is one of the few programs that excels in both aspects. It offers highly competitive rates for Star Alliance awards and does not pass on fuel surcharges to LifeMiles members.

As a result, you can expect to pay minimal taxes and fees when redeeming an award ticket.

Lufthansa first class from the US to Europe

Between Porsche amenity kits and gourmet inflight dining, Lufthansa’s first class is often a dream come true for award travelers.

United typically prices Lufthansa first-class awards to Europe at around 154,000 miles each way. When there’s award space, Air Canada charges 90,000-100,000 points. While Asiana Airlines and Lufthansa offer lower award rates for first-class redemptions, both airlines impose high taxes and fees.

Meanwhile, Avianca offers one of the best ways to book Lufthansa first class on miles. Award rates start at just 87,000 miles each way and carry minimal taxes and fees.

At 30,000 and 63,000 miles, Star Alliance economy- and business-class awards aren’t bad deals, either.

ANA business and first class from Honolulu to Tokyo

If you want to travel to Japan on a shorter daytime flight, consider flying from Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL).

LifeMiles charges just 27,500, 48,000 and 66,000 miles for one-way flights in economy, business and first class (respectively) between Honolulu and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT). These award rates are at least 10% less than what Aeroplan, KrisFlyer and MileagePlus charge for the same route.

Business class from the US to Asia

As expected, award rates from the mainland U.S. to Asia are higher, with one-way flights from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) costing 47,000 miles and 90,000 miles in economy and business class, respectively.

Nevertheless, this can still be a decent way to reach the continent for fewer miles than you’d see through other programs.

Business class to New Zealand

Although premium-cabin award space on Air New Zealand can be difficult to find, another LifeMiles sweet spot is the carrier’s business class to Auckland Airport (AKL), with flights costing just 80,000 miles.


As Aeroplan sells these awards for 75,000 points, you might consider booking through Air Canada — though if you’re buying LifeMiles, it’s still a sweet spot worth knowing about.

Business class to South America

LifeMiles also offers great award rates on certain South American flights. Business-class awards cost just 35,000 miles from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM) in Lima, Peru — a hidden gem for a flight of this length.

Mixed-cabin awards

When traveling in long-haul business or first class, it’s common to encounter mixed-cabin awards through LifeMiles. This happens in the following situations:

  • When airlines don’t offer first class on shorter routes, requiring passengers to connect in business or economy class
  • When there isn’t award space in your desired cabin

Most loyalty programs determine the award rate based on the highest cabin class of service used. However, LifeMiles takes a different approach. It prices each leg of the journey separately based on the class of service booked, which often leads to a discounted rate for mixed-cabin tickets.


In the above example, you can save 3,040 miles on a one-way ticket to Europe by starting your trip in economy class at Orlando International Airport (MCO). The total cost would then be just 59,960 miles. The flight from Orlando to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) doesn’t have award availability in United’s domestic first class, so this is a great way to still get the award you want.

Alternatively, even when there is award availability for your entire journey, you may decide it isn’t worth using extra miles for a shorter connecting flight. Even then, you can pick economy and save some of your rewards for later.

Related: The best ways to travel to Europe using points and miles

Problems with Avianca LifeMiles


Despite LifeMiles offering appealing award rates, it might not be the program for you. The program has a reputation for error-prone information technology and inconsistent customer service.

LifeMiles members often encounter website glitches when redeeming their miles. Additionally, if you reserve an economy award ticket and business class becomes available, LifeMiles requires you to pay a cancellation fee to redeposit your miles. You can then rebook your flight in business class.

While you may save thousands of miles booking with Avianca, canceling your ticket could be tedious and costly. You typically can’t cancel award bookings online, and Avianca is slow to issue refunds.

However, Avianca LifeMiles is reportedly working on rectifying some of its customer service issues and implementing changes. Most recently, Avianca launched a subscription-based miles service, LifeMiles+. If you sign up for the Basic, Pro or Max account, you can enjoy no change or cancellation fees on award tickets. If you’re a frequent flyer of Avianca or use the carrier’s loyalty program to book partner award flights, this subscription service could be for you.

Bottom line

Avianca LifeMiles is a frequent flyer program that has proven its worth in the award travel world. With its attractive redemption rates, lack of fuel surcharges and partnerships with major transferable points programs, LifeMiles offers great value and flexibility to its members. While there may be some customer service challenges and quirks to navigate, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for many travelers.

So take the time to explore Avianca LifeMiles, delve into its sweet spots and unlock the possibilities it presents for your future travels. With a little research and planning, you can make the most of this valuable program as you consider where to transfer your credit card points.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Subscribe Today





Get unlimited access to our EXCLUSIVE Content and our archive of subscriber stories.

Exclusive content

Latest article

More article

- Advertisement -