Up your travel game: Get 100,000 miles and elite status with the new Avianca card

Star Alliance member Avianca LifeMiles' new card-free card is now available. I'm really excited about this premium card, it has so many benefits. If you join the waitlist for these cards like I recommend, you'll earn more points when you get approved for a card within 4 weeks and meet the minimum spend requirements.

Avianca LifeMiles American Express Elite Card

The $249 annual Avianca LifeMiles American Express Elite Card comes with:

Earn a 100,000-mile bonus upfront with the card, bundle it with elite status and discounts when redeeming miles, and it's a very strong value proposition. Getting this card and spending to earn this bonus is a strong value proposition.

Since LifeMiles is so easy to obtain – by purchasing miles and transferring them from other partners in addition to their co-branded cards – redemption discounts will continue to pay off for many.

The LifeMiles+ subscription game is interesting because it's something completely new and they're selling it for $20 a month. So, this $249 annual fee comes with a $240 annual fee product. If you want to upgrade to a higher level subscription, you can use $20 per month as a credit. Monthly discounts of $50, $100 and $200 are available.

While LifeMiles charges change and cancellation fees for award tickets, LifeMiles+ Tier 1 and above customers are exempt from rollover fees for award tickets as long as they do so at least 72 hours before flight departure. In the top tier, mileage is doubled up to 10,000 miles per month, which means you can earn up to 6x rewards on purchases through Avianca (4x rewards on dining and other travel).

Avianca LifeMiles American Express Credit Card

The Avianca LifeMiles American Express Card with an annual fee of $99 comes with:

  • Initial bonus: Earn 40,000 LifeMiles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.
  • earn: 2x on Avianca or LifeMiles purchases and on restaurant and grocery purchases; 1x on all other expenses.
  • Discount: Enjoy 10% off the base fare of Avianca flights starting 45 days after the card is approved via a dedicated promotional landing page.
  • Elite status: LifeMiles Silver Elite Membership.

Factoring in the upfront bonus offer, the card's annual fee is clearly worth it for the first year. If you buy your ticket with Avianca, you can easily take advantage of the discount in the following years. And, it's an inexpensive way to gain base-level status simply by owning and keeping the card.

Avianca LifeMiles Silver Membership

Avianca Silver (Avianca Silver Card), like Star Alliance Silver Card, can earn 30% bonus miles when purchasing paid tickets on Avianca Classic, Flexible and Business fares. You can enjoy priority check-in, boarding, call center services and baggage handling with Avianca and receive 5 lounge passes and 2 companion passes to access Avianca ) lounge. Coach tickets also have additional checked baggage allowance.

LifeMiles Benefits

Star Alliance member Avianca LifeMiles offers incentive travel experts one of the most valuable frequent flyer programs. They have reasonable redemption prices. There is no fuel surcharge. When you have some economy and business or first class, the price of the award goes down.

They are transfer agencies for American Express, Citi, Capital One and Bild. And they often sell points at cheap prices. This makes them a very useful program and one can easily earn miles with them.

Use Avianca LifeMiles to redeem United business class tickets

One card-less card limit will be terminated

Cardless' initial rollout focuses on sports teams and their fans. It makes sense that United fans might get this card instead of another card offered to the same person who applied for the Florida Marlins product. The person may be interested only in the card's initial bonus, or in a combination of cards so that all payouts occur in accelerator categories.

However, now that they are more active in the travel space with cards like LATAM and its Qatar co-branded card and now the Avianca card, the same idea may no longer apply. People often hold more than one travel card.

Cardless operates a “one card per person” policy. However, they told me they plan to make the feature available to people on multiple cardless products “in the coming months.”

Introduction 5/24

Every card issuer has a way to restrict the use of their cards to people who are primarily interested in smashing and grabbing — get the bonus, cancel the card. American Express limits the number of cards a consumer can hold, and limits each person to owning one card only once (as long as American Express keeps track of it). In most cases, Chase will only approve your application for a new card if you have had fewer than 5 new cards in the past 24 months. This is called “5/24”.

Cardless told me they are implementing their own rules, which are very similar to Chase's approach. Therefore, you will only be approved if you have had 4 or fewer new cards in the past 24 months.

Make Avianca LifeMiles more attractive

I discussed the product and all the details with LifeMiles President Matt Vincett, and he admitted that “it's a little confusing, and I won't explain it by design.” Instead, they want to “embrace mileage enthusiasts” — who in the past have owned the U.S. card, but he bluntly said it wasn't very successful and therefore didn't want “another copycat product.” Offering many different ways to deliver value means complications, but only if they have “confidence in mileage enthusiasts” who are “savvy enough and read enough blogs” to figure it all out.

LifeMiles works with other U.S. banking programs and always wants customers to get the best value from the program, and Vincett is pleased with people using this new U.S. co-branded card and others. Earn up to 6x rewards with this card's highest subscription level, and since it's an Amex card, it's not topped up with Visa, which can be transferred to LifeMiles. The customer has multiple cards in his wallet and through the bonus discounts of this card he will earn more points transfer, so they are very complementary.

Historically, I've viewed Avianca LifeMiles as a true pro program – reasonable redemptions, no fuel surcharges, and some absolutely great value, but no great service. They've reportedly been doing a better job with customer service lately, and their Chief Operating Officer recently told me about changes they've made that make the program easier to use.

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