Avianca has a co-branded credit card issued by Banco Popular called the Avianca Vuela Visa that comes with 40,000 Avianca LifeMiles after your first purchase on the card and a $149 annual fee. There’s a lower annual fee Avianca card called the Avianca Vida Visa with a 20,000 LifeMiles bonus after your first purchase and payment of the $59 annual fee.

I’m going to go over the Avianca Vuela Visa below as I think that is the better deal between the two cards.

Quick Facts

  • Sign Up Bonus:
    • 40,000 bonus LifeMiles after using your card once
  • Category Bonuses:
    • 3 LifeMiles for every dollar spent on Avianca purchases
    • 2 LifeMiles for every dollar spent at gas stations and grocery stores
  • 15% discount when purchasing miles via Multiply Your Miles
  • Two 50% discounts on award tickets redeemed after meeting further spending thresholds
    • one applicable for travel to Central America or Colombia from the United States after spending $12,000 on the card in a year
    • another also applicable for travel Central America or Colombia from the United States after spending $24,000 on the card in a year
  • Free additional piece of baggage for travel between the United States and Central America
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $149

Eligibility

We don’t have a crystal clear idea as to Banco Popular’s application rules or standards. It is probably a good thing that this card isn’t issued by a bank you or I recognize. Those of cut off by the Chase 5/24 rule, Citi’s sign up bonus rule, or Amex’s one bonus per product per lifetime policy may have better luck with a new bank. But it also means we don’t have a ton of data points to form generalizations.

As reader Jeff G commented on a prior iteration of this post, applications with the Vuela Visa seem hit or miss. From what I’ve read, some in the past have had issues with Banco Popular requesting physical documents to prove income (like tax documents), while others have no issue at all and no questions asked from the bank. I’ve also read of some way over the Chase 5/24 limit getting instantly approved, and some with excellent credit scores getting instantly denied. It’s hard to draw any solid conclusions.

Pro Tip: Reader Rod W reached out to let me know he was told by Banco Popular that in order to be eligible for a repeat Vuela Visa card, one needs to first cancel the existing card and wait three years from the prior application date. Thanks for the intel, Rod!

Feasibility

The ability to get approved is one thing. The ability to use the miles you’re taking a hard credit pull for is another. My impression is that over time, LifeMiles have gotten easier to use in the sense that the phone representatives are getting better/more helpful. Seems like the site’s functionality has also improved.

I still hear complaints, and you can see some in the comments below. But remember that the internet is an echo chamber and many people don’t take the time to report their experience unless it’s an extreme one (whether that be negative or positive).

Please share your data points applying for the Avianca cards and/or actually using LifeMiles in the comments. If you are denied or given a decision pending response, try calling Banco Popular’s reconsideration line: 844-343-1010.

Sign Up Bonus

You will earn 40,000 Avianca LifeMiles after your first purchase on the Avianca Vuela Visa. I value LifeMiles at 1.6 cents each, making this sign up bonus worth approximately $640.

LifeMiles are great for booking well priced award flights on Star Alliance carriers without fuel surcharges…and it tends to be Star Alliance carriers that have the most premium cabin award space to Europe. For example, one of our stellar new team members Kevin just booked two award booking service clients for only 51,000 ThankYou Points each–transferred to LifeMiles last month during a 25% transfer bonus period–flying Swiss Air Boeing 777 Business Class between Rome and Los Angeles.

For more tips on what LifeMiles are good for, read Maximizing Avianca LifeMiles. That post is a bit outdated but I plan on updating it soon.  

You can use LifeMiles to book United’s fully flat beds on its routes from Los Angeles and San Francisco to New York (Newark). 

Category Bonuses

Category bonuses included 3 LifeMiles per dollar spent on Avianca purchases and 2 miles per dollar spent on gas and at grocery stores.

What merchants are included in the category of gas and grocery stores? Looks like pretty much every gas station and grocery store except places like Sam’s Club and Costco. The following is from the card offer’s terms & conditions:

“You’ll earn 2 LifeMiles for every $1 in Net Purchases spent at qualifying gas stations and grocery stores, which are those categorized by the merchant or its processor as gas stations and grocery stores using the merchant category code. Large warehouse-type stores are generally not categorized as grocery stores.”

15% Discount When Purchasing Miles via Multiply Your Miles

Multiply Your Miles allows you to earn more LifeMiles when either Flying with Avianca, via spending on Avianca credit cards, or via traveling on partner airlines/other partner activity. It doesn’t mean you get 15% off when purchasing miles directly from Avianca, which is a bummer.

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-9-29-05-amThis is how Multiply Your Miles works: You can double the miles you’ve already earned (price per double mile is 1.85 cents each before the 15% discount, 1.57 cents each after) or triple them (price per triple miles is 1.71 cents each before the 15% discount, 1.45 cents each after). You can read more about the specific terms and conditions behind Multiply Your Miles here.

But is buying LifeMiles for 1.45 cents each a good deal? It’s decent… not good enough to buy speculatively but could definitely be worth it if you have an immediate high value use in mind.

Free Bag

The following is from the card offers’ terms and conditions:

“Non Elite LifeMiles members that are primary cardholders may check a second bag free of charge when traveling on Avianca flights from United States to Central America and vice versa (“Qualifying Trip”), except on trips where Avianca provides the second bag free as standard benefit. The second checked bag must be less than or equal to 50 pounds’ weight and dimensions up to 158 linear centimeters considering height, width and length. Others restrictions apply.”

Bottom Line

The Avianca Vuela Visa‘s annual fee of $149 is a touch on the pricey side, but 40k LifeMiles are valuable for booking Star Alliance flights and you don’t have to meet any minimum spending requirement aside from one purchase. That adds value to this sign up offer because there’s almost no opportunity cost–you can put spending towards meeting other minimum spending requirements for more big returns.

If you apply for this card, please share your experiences below, particularly because this card is issued by a relatively unfamiliar bank. You will be helping your fellow miles/points enthusiasts decide whether or not this is worth a hard inquiry. And please, report your experience even if it wasn’t particularly awesome or particularly terrible, so we can get form a well-rounded perspective.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.