Update: Mileage sale extended until 10/3/14.

Today (September 30, 2014) is the last day that you can get 1.52 Avianca LifeMiles on all purchases by using your Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.

This is a big flipping deal!

The Arrival Plus is already the most valuable card for economy redemptions since its 2 miles per dollar on all purchases and 10% rebate on all travel redemptions means you effectively get 2.28% back toward flights on any airline with no blackouts. This technique–which dies today–makes the Arrival Plus also the best all-around card for business and first class redemptions.

The technique in this post is an incredible way to turn Arrival miles, which are worth a fixed 1.14 cents each, into traditional airline miles that can be used for valuable international business and first class itineraries.

Now Get into Beds, like United Global First, with Arrival Miles

To me, the technique in this post makes the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® much more valuable because no other card earns 1.52 traditional airline miles on all purchases, and the LifeMiles award chart offers tons of great values for premium cabin awards on Star Alliance partners like:

Maybe you’ve never heard of LifeMiles, but they are actually fantastic for international awards. The only reason they’re not better known is because they’re normally hard to obtain.

LifeMiles awards never contain fuel surcharges, just government taxes plus a $25 award booking fee. You can book all 27 Star Alliance airline with LifeMiles.

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Getting more than one-and-a-half miles per dollar on such a great award chart is quite a deal, and that deal ends today.

  • How can you get 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar on all Arrival Plus purchases?
  • How can you book LifeMiles awards?
  • What are the highest value LifeMiles awards?
  • Is earning 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar better than 2 Arrival miles per dollar?

How to Get 1.52 LifeMiles Per Dollar on All Purchases

The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® earns 2 Arrival miles per dollar.

Arrival miles can be redeemed at a favorable rate toward travel expenses including:

  • airfare on any flight on any airline with NO blackouts whether purchased from the airline or an online travel agency like Expedia
  • taxes and fees on award tickets
  • airbnb stays
  • any hotel charges including meals and services on your bill
  • motels
  • hostels
  • Bed & Breakfasts
  • car rentals
  • cruises
  • trains
  • buses
  • taxis
  • ferries

The key is what purchases get categorized as “Travel” on your statement. Buying miles and points generally does NOT get categorized as travel, since most airlines and hotels outsource their mile selling to points.com.

But Avianca LifeMiles are sold directly from lifemiles.com and do get categorized as travel. (Proof here, courtesy of Million Mile Secrets.)

LifeMiles cost 3 cents each. But about every other month–including right now through September 30–LifeMiles are sold with a 100% bonus, bringing the price down to 1.5 cents each. This is probably the last day ever that LifeMiles will cost 1.5 cents each. They go up in price to 3.3 cents tomorrow, meaning a 100% bonus sale would price them at 1.65 cents each.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 2.50.36 AM Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 2.51.30 AM

The math on buying LifeMiles with Arrival miles is pretty simple.

If you bought 10,000 LifeMiles with a 10,000 LifeMiles bonus on your Arrival Plus card, you’d get 20,000 miles for $300.

You’d also earn +600 Arrival miles, since you get 2 miles per dollar on all purchases.

At any point within 120 days of purchase, you could redeem Arrival miles to make that $300 charge go away. Here’s how to redeem Arrival miles.

You’d need to redeem -30,000 Arrival miles to remove the $300 charge.

You’d instantly get a 10% rebate of +3,000 Arrival miles for redeeming for a travel expense.

The total outcome is having 20,000 LifeMiles now at a cost of 26,400 Arrival miles. That is like turning 1 Arrival miles into 0.76 LifeMiles. Since you get 2 Arrival miles per dollar on all spending, that’s like getting 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar on all spending.

Even Cooler

Arrival miles have a unique redemption process. You charge a purchase to your Arrival Plus that you later want to redeem with miles, and you have 120 days to make the Arrival miles redemption.

That means you can buy things that you want to later get for free with your Arrival Plus even if you don’t have any miles in your account.

As an example, if you got your Arrival Plus this month and are working on the minimum spending requirement, you can purchase LifeMiles right now and use them right now and then later redeem Arrival miles to remove the purchase of the LifeMiles from your statement up to 120 days from now.

By the way, meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Arrival Plus nets you 46,000 Arrival miles–the 40k bonus plus 6k for spending $3k in 90 days–which is more than enough to buy 30,000 LifeMiles and still have 5,000 Arrival miles left in your account.


You are limited to purchasing 150,000 LifeMiles (including bonus) during any calendar year. That would cost $2,250 or 225,000 Arrival miles.

You have to buy LifeMiles in increments of 2,000 (including bonus.)

You must have an open LifeMiles account at the start of a 2 x 1 bonus sale to participate in it. Open your account now for the next sale.


I do not speculatively buy LifeMiles. We know that LifeMiles’ award chart is getting worse October 15, 2014, so redeem before then.

Benefits of LifeMiles

  • One way awards
  • Up to two open jaws on roundtrips
  • Much better award chart than United
  • Access to all the same Star Alliance award space that United miles can access
  • $50 Award Cancellations
  • Easy online searching and booking tool

Drawbacks of LifeMiles

If you want to convert Arrival miles to LifeMiles, keep the Arrival miles until you are ready to book an award with LifeMiles. The best way to buy LifeMiles is AFTER award searching and IMMEDIATELY BEFORE award booking. Your LifeMiles balance should almost always be zero, and you should really only have the miles in your account for a few minutes while you book an award.

1.52 LifeMiles vs. 2 Arrival Miles

So which is better, 1.52 LifeMiles or 2 Arrival Miles? That depends on what you want to book.

If you want to book hotels, car rentals, cruises, amusement parks, trains, taxis, ferries, or some other travel expense other than a flight, Arrival miles are better because LifeMiles can’t be used for those things.

If you want to book a flight, do the math. Two Arrival miles are worth 2.28 cents toward any flight. One-and-a-half LifeMiles can be used on flights with award space in accordance with the LifeMiles award chart.

Generally Arrival miles will be better for domestic economy and LifeMiles will be better for all business and first class. International economy could be better with either type.

Key links

LifeMiles Award Chart

Open a LifeMiles Account

Buy LifeMiles (this 2 x 1 ends today September 30, a new one will likely start soon)

Book LifeMiles Award

The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3k in the first 90 days

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles if you make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next trip!
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
  • Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
  • Use miles for a statement credit toward any airline purchase to any destination with no seat restrictions and no blackout dates
  • Easily redeem your miles for statement credits toward flights, cruises, car rentals, hotels and more
  • Complimentary subscription to TripIt Pro mobile travel organizer – a $49 annual value!
  • Complimentary FICO® Scores as a benefit to active cardmembers. Opt-in to have instant and convenient access to FICO® Scores from your Barclaycard online account.

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

Hat Tip Mike Cook for the idea

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