Who Is the Avianca LifeMiles Visa Signature Card Good Fo
If you often fly to Central or South America, Avianca could be the right carrier for you. The Colombia-based airline is a holding company for seven South American carriers, making it the second-largest in South America after LATAM, which is composed of TAM and LAN Airlines. Avianca is a member of the Star Alliance, and it operates a frequent flyer program called LifeMiles.
U.S. Bank offers three LifeMiles Visa cards in the U.S.:
- LifeMiles Visa Signature card: $75 annual fee
- LifeMiles Visa card: $45 annual fee
- LifeMiles Visa Secured card: $20 annual fee
Although the LifeMiles Visa Signature card has the highest annual fee, it comes with additional benefits not offered by the other cards. You’ll get bigger sign-up and annual renewal bonuses, as well as double miles on Avianca purchases and a bigger discount when redeeming LifeMiles for excess baggage. In addition, you’ll get all of the standard Visa Signature card benefits, such as travel accident insurance and lost luggage reimbursement.
The card comes with a 20,000-mile sign-up bonus after your first purchase, plus a 6,000-mile annual renewal bonus. You’ll also get 5,000 miles if you refer a friend or family member and they become a cardholder.
- 2 miles per dollar spent on Avianca
- 1 mile per dollar on everything else
What Do Your Miles Get You?
Avianca is a member of the Star Alliance, which consists of 27 partner airlines. You can redeem for flights on any of the member airlines, so your LifeMiles can take you to every corner of the world.
- 50 percent discount when redeeming miles for excess baggage
- Extensive network in the Americas
- One-way award tickets
- Valuable redemptions for flights in South America
- No fuel surcharges
- Miles-plus-cash awards available
- Low sign-up bonus
- Mediocre earning scheme
- Inflated award chart for most international flights
How Far Do Your Miles Go?
Avianca devalued its Star Alliance partner award chart in 2014, making LifeMiles less valuable. However, there are still some good redemption options available.
The best way to redeem LifeMiles is for domestic flights in North and South America. A one-way flight in Peru or Colombia starts at only 3,000 miles. At that rate, it can be worth buying all of the required LifeMiles miles at $0.018 per mile, which may be the lowest price for miles in any frequent flyer program, instead of paying for the cash ticket.
For example, a short flight between Lima and Cuzco, a gateway to Machu Picchu in Peru, can cost as much as $250 to $300. If you purchase LifeMiles outright, it only costs $54 plus a small government tax.
Another sweet spot: flights to/from Alaska. Unlike many frequent flyer programs, LifeMiles doesn’t make a distinction between Alaska and the continental U.S. That means that the cost of flying between Anchorage and anywhere in the world is the same as flying from Miami, New York or any other U.S. city.
Hawaii, on the other hand, is considered a separate region. A flight between Hawaii and Asia costs fewer miles than from the continental U.S. Those are probably the only routes where it might make sense to use LifeMiles for business class redemptions. It takes 96,000 miles to fly roundtrip between Hawaii and Beijing, and 102,000 miles between Hawaii and Singapore in business class.
Additional Cardholder Benefits:
- Zero liability
- No preset spending limit
- Visa Signature concierge service
- $1 million travel accident insurance
- Travel and emergency assistance
- Roadside dispatch
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Purchase security
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Warranty manager service