Yesterday we noticed that American Express has just added Avianca LifeMiles as one of the Membership Rewards transfer partners. The transfer rate is currently 1:1.
The partnership between Amex and LifeMiles undoubtedly boosted the value of Membership Rewards points, especially in terms of redeeming Star Alliance flights. Now Amex has four SA partners: Avianca LifeMiles, ANA Mileage Club, Air Canada Aeroplan, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
Here is a quick look of the advantages of LifeMiles:
- LifeMiles does NOT charge fuel surcharge. This is more friendly than Aeroplan and ANA, which sometimes incur $400+ YQ.
- LifeMiles charges 75k miles between Asia and North America in one-way business class. For the same itinerary in first class, only 90k is needed.
- No call is needed; you can search award space directly on LifeMiles.
- For short-haul domestic award on United, AV only charges 7500 miles (provided that you could find award space to begin with).
- LifeMiles has a broad region definition. For example it considers Europe as a whole, while United and Aeroplan both consider West and East Europe.
- LifeMiles often runs promotions that sale points at 1.35 to 1.45 cent/mile, in case you are running short of points.
- LifeMiles allows points+cash redemption.
- LifeMiles sometimes run promotions. For example it once reduced the redemption charge by 20% for limited period of time.
- No close-in booking fee.
- The expiration date of LifeMiles can be extended by 12 months if there is an earning activity (transfer from ThankYou Points and Membership Rewards should count).
Of course, there are some caveats associated with LifeMiles that you need to pay close attention to:
- LifeMiles charges a flat-rate $25 ticketing fee.
- No open-jaws or stopovers.
- It is hard to change tickets.
- Any change or cancellation will be subject to a hefty fee of $200.
- The search engine can sometimes be unstable. For example it used to block Air China’s flight between Australia/New Zealand and China.
All that said, LifeMiles is a great addition to the portfolio of Membership Rewards as it presents one of the best Star Alliance redemption opportunities.
Do you plan to take advantage of the transfer opportunity from Membership Rewards to LifeMiles?