The Guide to Avianca Airlines LifeMiles

Avianca LifeMiles offer good rates and easy transfer options from major loyalty programs.
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Even if you don't have plans to fly Avianca Airlines, Colombia’s national airline, you may want to know about the Avianca LifeMiles mileage program. From 6,500-mile award flights on United Airlines via the Star Alliance to 63,000-mile business class award flights to Europe, there are a variety of ways to redeem Avianca LifeMiles.

Even better, you don’t need to fly Avianca to earn LifeMiles.

Instead, you can transfer points from 10 loyalty programs — including American Express, Citi, Capital One, Bilt and Marriott — to take advantage of reward sweet spots. And based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Avianca LifeMiles at 1.2 cents each.

Here’s your guide to Avianca Airlines and what you need to know about Avianca LifeMiles.

About Avianca Airlines

Avianca traces its roots back to 1919 and continues to operate as Colombia’s flag carrier. It operates extensive routes throughout Central America and northern South America.

Beyond that, Avianca stretches its wings into North America, southern South America and even a few European routes. Before diving into the loyalty program, let’s do a quick guide to Avianca.

Avianca fare types

Avianca has four fare classes:

  • Basic: Basic economy, personal item only.

  • Classic: Economy, carry-on, economy seat and checked bag included. 

  • Flex: Plus seat included, eligible for changes and cancellations. 

  • Business: Business-class seat, priority airport services, lounge access, two checked bags. 

Avianca's main U.S. routes

Avianca currently operates flights to 13 U.S. airports in four regions:

  • West: Los Angeles; Las Vegas; San Francisco, Oakland and Ontario, California.

  • Florida: Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando.

  • Northeast U.S.: New York-JFK, Boston, Washington-Dulles.

  • Texas: Dallas, Houston.

Most U.S. routes are to Avianca’s hubs in San Salvador, El Salvador, and Bogota, Colombia.

Points currency and the Avianca LifeMiles loyalty program

Avianca’s mileage program and mileage currency are called LifeMiles. NerdWallet values Avianca LifeMiles at 1.2 cents each.

Earn Avianca LifeMiles

There are three primary ways to earn LifeMiles: flying, transferring points from credit cards or transferring points from hotel rewards programs. Let’s explore these and other ways of earning LifeMiles.

1. Earn by flying

You can earn LifeMiles by flying on Avianca. Although you won’t earn miles on basic economy or Light tickets, you will for all other fare classes. These max out at a total of 7x miles per $1 spent, but this doesn't factor in bonuses from elite status.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Basic economy fares to and from Europe, or from Brazil, are called 'Light.'

You’ll also earn LifeMiles by flying on Star Alliance flights, though the rates for this will vary depending on which airline you’re flying and your fare class.

2. Earn by transferring from credit card rewards programs

LifeMiles wouldn’t be a very relevant program if the only way to earn miles was through flying. However, Avianca LifeMiles can effectively be earned on many credit cards thanks to LifeMiles’ partners.

You can transfer points to LifeMiles from four U.S. bank and credit card programs:

This gives you a wide range of ways to earn LifeMiles. For example, you can effectively earn 4x LifeMiles at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants through the American Express® Gold Card. Terms apply.

Earn 1x LifeMiles on rent payments with the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card.

Or, earn 2x LifeMiles on all purchases through the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Cards for earning LifeMiles
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Gold Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on American Express' website

Rates & Fees
Bilt World Elite Mastercard Credit Card
Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Bilt's website

Rates & Fees
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Citibank Strata Premier Card
Citi Strata Premier℠ Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Rates & Fees
Annual fee

$250.

None.

$95.

$95.

Earn rate

• 4 points per $1 at restaurants plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.

• 4 points per $1 at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year).

• 3 points per $1 on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.

• 1 point per $1 on other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

• 3 points per $1 on dining.

• 2 points per $1 on travel.

• 1 point per $1 on rent payments up to 100,000 points per calendar year.

Note: You must use the card 5 times each statement period to earn points. If you do not make at least 5 transactions in a statement period you’ll earn a flat 250 points when you use your Bilt Mastercard to pay rent through the Bilt App or Website.

• 5 miles per $1 on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

• 2 miles per $1 on all other purchases.

• 10 ThankYou® points per $1 spent on hotels, car rentals and attractions booked through the Citi Travel site.

• 3 points per $1 on air travel and other hotel purchases.

• 3 points per $1 on supermarkets.

• 3 points per $1 on gas stations and EV charging stations.

• 3 points per $1 on restaurants.

• 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

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3. Earn by transferring from hotel loyalty programs

You can also convert hotel points from six hotel loyalty programs into LifeMiles:

  • Marriott Bonvoy: 3:1 transfer ratio.

  • IHG One Rewards: Transfer 10,000 IHG One Rewards points to get 2,000 LifeMiles.

  • Accor Live Limitless: 2:1 transfer ratio for transferring Accor Live Limitless Rewards points.

  • Best Western Rewards: Transfer 5,000 Best Western Rewards to get 1,000 LifeMiles.

  • Radisson Rewards: Transfer 2,000 Radisson Rewards Points to get 200 LifeMiles.

  • Wyndham Rewards: Transfer 6,000 Wyndham Rewards to get 1,200 LifeMiles.

Other ways to earn Avianca LifeMiles

  • Buying LifeMiles: You can purchase LifeMiles here.

  • Hotel stays: Earn up to 14,000 LifeMiles per night spent at LifeMiles hotel partners.

  • Rental cars: Earn 5x LifeMiles per $1 spent.

  • Shopping: Earn up to 3 LifeMiles per dollar spent through LifeMiles’ shopping partners.

  • Dining: Members can earn up to 3 LifeMiles per dollar on dining partners.

Avianca LifeMiles calculator

What are Avianca LifeMiles worth?

Based on NerdWallet's annual points and miles valuation analysis, Avianca LifeMiles are worth 1.2 cents each.

Use the LifeMiles-to-dollars calculator below to figure out how much your Avianca LifeMiles are worth based on our estimated value.

Redeem LifeMiles

Avianca's award chart for award flights

LifeMiles uses an award chart to price award flights on Star Alliance partners, plus a separate chart for its non-alliance partners, Gol and Iberia. The Star Alliance chart splits the world into 21 regions, including three regions for the contiguous United States.

That award chart is enough to make any traveler’s eyes glaze over. But, if you dig into this complicated chart, you’ll find plenty of sweet spots.

Domestic U.S. award flights

Domestic U.S. flights on United start at just 6,500 LifeMiles each way as long as you stay within the same region.

Award flights to Europe

Award flights to Europe can start at just 17,500 LifeMiles in economy or 63,000 LifeMiles in business class.

However, this great pricing is only for flights between United States 1 (generally the U.S. East Coast) and Europe 1 (which includes the British Isles and Scandinavia).

Business class awards to Asia

If you want to head to Asia in style, business class award flights from any contiguous U.S. region to Asia can cost a quite reasonable 40,000 LifeMiles each way.

Other ways to redeem (that you should pass on)

You can use LifeMiles on more than just flights, but the value is so poor that we rarely recommend it. That said, here is one other way that you can redeem Avianca LifeMiles:

Using LifeMiles for hotel bookings

LifeMiles members can earn miles by booking hotel stays through LifeMiles Hotels. Alternatively, you can redeem LifeMiles for hotel stays. The exact redemption rate is going to vary on the property, but we're generally finding redemption rates under 0.5 cent per LifeMile. That means you’ll generally want to pass on this option and look for something flight-related, where you can get at least 1.2 cents per mile.

When do Avianca Airlines LifeMiles expire?

Every loyalty program has its own policies around when frequent flyer miles expire, but Avianca LifeMiles have among the shortest expiration periods of them all.

LifeMiles expire after just 12 months of account inactivity. But you don't necessarily need to fly just to show activity. Nearly all types of activity extend the expiration date on all the LifeMiles in your account for another 12 months (or until you again show activity).

Activity could be earning Avianca Airlines LifeMiles through flights or spending on an Avianca LifeMiles credit or debit card (not available to U.S. residents).

Avianca’s elite status program

Avianca's elite status program has four tiers: Red Plus, Silver, Gold and Diamond. You’ll need to earn a minimum number of miles per year, some of which must be on Avianca aircraft.

Here are the current requirements for earning status in the LifeMiles program.

Avianca LifeMiles elite status level

Elite Qualifying Miles requirements (total)

Minimum Elite Qualifying Miles that must be accrued on Avianca flights

Red Plus

6,000.

1,000.

Silver

12,000.

6,000.

Gold

24,000.

12,000.

Diamond

45,000.

22,500.

Avianca’s elite status benefits

Red Plus is the lowest level of elite status. Here are the status level perks, broken down by level.

  • One lounge access per year. 

  • 5% discount on premium seat purchase.

  • Plus and exit-row seat at check-in.

  • Free economy seat selection.

  • 10% bonus on earned miles.

  • Star Alliance Silver status.

  • Priority standby.

  • Priority waitlist.

  • 24-month validity for LifeMiles.

  • Extension for maternity leave. 

  • Discount on LifeMiles Club subscription.

All Red level perks, plus:

  • Five lounge entries per year.

  • Two lounge entries for guests.

  • Two business class upgrades to North America per year.

  • Two premium seat selections.

  • 10% discount on premium seat purchase. 

  • Plus and exit-row seats at booking. 

  • Anytime boarding.

  • Extra checked bag.

  • 30% bonus on earned miles.

  • Same-day flight changes for routes within Colombia. 

  • Priority check-in.

  • Priority customer service.

  • Group B boarding.

Get the perks from Silver and Red Plus statuses, as well as:

  • 20 lounge entries per year.

  • Eight lounge entries for guests.

  • Star Alliance Gold status.

  • Eight Gol lounge entries.

  • Four business class upgrades to North America per year.

  • Four premium seat selections.

  • 15% discount on premium seat purchase. 

  • 50% bonus on earned miles.

  • Group A boarding.

All of the above, plus:

  • Unlimited lounge entries per year.

  • 12 lounge entries for guests.

  • Eight Gol lounge entries.

  • Two business class upgrades to Europe per year. 

  • Seven business class upgrades to North America per year. 

  • Seven premium seat selections.

  • 20% discount on premium seat purchase. 

  • 70% bonus on earned miles.

Bonus: No expensive copays on award bookings

One thing you need to know about Avianca LifeMiles is that it doesn’t pass along carrier-imposed surcharges on award tickets. That means you won’t have to pay sky-high cash copays to get a reasonable award rate.

For this reason, LifeMiles is the go-to mileage program for booking award tickets on airlines that charge hefty fees — such as Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines.

For example, Lufthansa first class is considered one of the best first-class products in the skies. However, when you book this award using some Star Alliance partners, carrier-imposed surcharges can add up to several hundred dollars or more each way.

However, you don’t have to pay these fees when booking with Avianca LifeMiles; instead, you’re just paying taxes and other fees when booking an award.

Avianca LifeMiles, recapped

As it’s a mileage program of a Colombian airline, it’s easy to ignore LifeMiles. However, by doing so, you’re missing out on some excellent award rates with minimal out-of-pocket costs.

One of the great parts of LifeMiles is that you don’t need to build up a mileage balance over time. You can simply transfer points from one of four major transferable point programs (AmEx, Citi, Capital One or Marriott) to LifeMiles just before you want to book an award flight.

Make sure to price out an award on LifeMiles the next time you’re planning to book an award flight on United or another Star Alliance partner. You may be pleasantly surprised by just how affordable the miles and cash prices are.

(Top photo courtesy of Avianca)


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