Step Up Your Travel Game: 100,000 Miles And Elite Status With New Avianca Card
Step Up Your Travel Game: 100,000 Miles And Elite Status With New Avianca Card

View from the Wing

New Cardless cards for Star Alliance member Avianca LifeMiles are live. I’m really excited about the premium card, which is chock full of benefits. And if you joined the waitlist for these cards like I suggested you’ll earn even more points when you’re approved for a card within 4 weeks and meet minimum spend requirements.

Step Up Your Travel Game: 100,000 Miles And Elite Status With New Avianca Card

Avianca LifeMiles American Express Elite Card

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

Earning a 100,000 mile up front bonus with the card, bundling that with elite status and a discount when redeeming miles is a really strong value proposition. Getting this card and spending to earn this bonus is a strong value proposition.

And since LifeMiles are so easy to earn – in addition to their co-brand card, by buying miles and transferring from other partners, the redemption discount will continue to pay off for many.

The LifeMiles+ subscription play is interesting because this is something brand new that they’re selling for $20 per month. So this $249 annual fee comes with a $240 annual cost product. And you can take that $20 per month as a credit if you wish to upgrade to a higher tier of their subscriptions. There’s a $50, $100 and $200 per month offering.

While LifeMiles has change and cancellation fees on award tickets, LifeMiles+ customers above the first tier have redeposit fees on awards waived as long as it’s done at least 72 hours prior to flight. At the top tier doubling of miles goes up to 10,000 miles per month which means buying up to get up to 6x earn with Avianca (and 4x on dining and other travel).

Avianca LifeMiles American Express Credit Card

With an annual fee of $99, the Avianca LifeMiles American Express Card comes with:

  • Initial bonus: 40,000 LifeMiles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.

  • Earn: 2x on Avianca or LifeMiles spend and on restaurants & groceries spend; 1x on all other spend.

  • Discounts: 10% discount on Avianca flight base fare starting 45 days after card approval via dedicated promotional landing page.

  • Elite status: LifeMiles Silver elite as a cardmember.

The card’s annual fee is clearly worthwhile in the first year given the up front bonus offer. You can easily make it back in subsequent years with the discount if you buy tickets on Avianca. And it’s a cheap way to base level status just for having and keeping the card.

Avianca LifeMiles Silver Status

Avianca Silver, with is Star Alliance Silver, gets you 30% bonus miles on paid Avianca tickets in classic, flex and business fares. You receive priority check-in, boarding, call center service and baggage handling on Avianca and get 5 lounge passes and 2 companion pass lounge entries for Avianca’s lounges. There’s an extra checked bag allowance on coach tickets as well.

Benefit Of LifeMiles

Star Alliance member Avianca LifeMiles has one of the most valuable frequent flyer programs for experts in award travel. They have reasonable redemption prices. There are no fuel surcharges. And when you have some coach segments along with business or first class, the price of the award drops.

They’re a transfer part of American Express, Citi, Capital One, and Bilt. And they frequently sell points inexpensively. That makes them a very useful program, and earning miles with them easy to leverage.

Redeem Avianca LifeMiles To Fly United Business Class

One Cardless Card Limit Will End

Cardless launched with a focus, initially, on sports teams and targeting their fans. It made sense that a fan of Manchester United might get that card, and not to extend another card to the same person applying for a Florida Marlins product. That person might just be interested in the card’s initial bonus, or in a portfolio of cards to have all their spend occur in accelerator categories.

However now that they’re more aggressively in the travel space with cards like LATAM and their Qatar co-brand as well as now the Avianca card, the same notion may not hold. People regularly hold more than one travel card.

Cardless has had a ‘one card per person’ policy. However they tell me that they plan to introduce the ability for people to have multiple Cardless products “in the coming months.”

Introducing 5/24

Every card issuer has an approach to limiting access to their cards to people primarily interested in a smash and grab – get the bonus, cancel the card. American Express limits the number of cards a consumer can hold, and limits each person to having a card one time (for as long as Amex keeps track). In most cases, Chase will only approve you for a new card if you’ve had fewer than 5 new cards in the last 24 months. This is known as “5/24.”

Cardless tells me they’re implementing their own rule that is largely similar to the Chase approach. So you can only expect approvals if your number of new cards in the last 24 months is 4 or less.

Makes Avianca LifeMiles Even More Compelling

I spoke with Matt Vincett, President of LifeMiles, about the product and all of the details which he acknowledged “it is a little confusing, I won’t say by design.” Instead they wanted to “embrace the miles enthusiasts” – they’ve had U.S. cards in the past that he’s blunt about not being very successful so that didn’t want “another me-too product.” Offering a lot of different ways to provide value means complication, but offered that they’ve put their “faith in the miles enthusiast” who are “savvy enough and read enough blogs” to figure it all out.

LifeMiles partners with other bank programs in the U.S. and consistent with wanting customers to get the most value out of the program, Vincett is happy with folks using both this new U.S. co-brand and other cards. Use this card with their highest subscription tier and earn up to 6x, and since it’s an Amex while not complement it with a Visa that transfers to LifeMiles. Customers have multiple cards in their wallet, and with this card’s award discount he’ll win more points transfers so they’re very much complementary.

Historically I’ve viewed Avianca LifeMiles as a real program for experts – reasonable redemptions, no fuel surcharges, and some absolute outstanding pockets of value but without great servicing. Reports are though that they’ve been much better with customer service lately, and their Chief Operating Officer recently walked me through the changes they’ve made that have made the program easier to work with.

Gary Leff

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