LifeMiles Devalues Its Award Chart Effective October 15th

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A few days ago, LifeMiles joined United and Delta in announcing an award chart devaluation, which will take place on October 15, 2014.

Bookings made until October 14, for travel until mid-2015 will cost the current mileage prices. Bookings made October 15 or later will cost more miles.

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While not as catastrophic as United’s February 1 devaluation, this devaluation is still not good news and significantly impacts the value of what had been one of the best award charts in the world.

LifeMiles have historically been an extremely useful mileage currency for two main reasons:

  1. the miles could be bought cheaply
  2. the award chart had several sweet spots compared to other Star Alliance carriers

The upcoming award chart changes erode much of LifeMiles’ value, but in the brave new world of other award chart devaluations, there are still a few bright spots on the LifeMiles chart.

A few months ago I talked about how to earn 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar on all purchases. If you have been racking up Arrival miles with plans to convert them to LifeMiles, read on to see if you are at risk of losing major value on October 15.

  • What changes did LifeMiles make on its new chart?
  • What flights can be booked with LifeMiles?
  • When is buying LifeMiles still a good idea?

LifeMiles is the frequent flyer program of Avianca, which is a member of the Star Alliance. Thus LifeMiles can be used to book award flights on any Star Alliance carrier.

Award space for Star Alliance carriers can be searched on united.com or lifemiles.com.

LifeMiles can be used to book one way award flights.

LifeMiles have historically offered exceptional value on select routes. In the midst of much controversy, last year I wrote about hidden city awards to Asia. That deal is now dead.

Two months ago, I compared the United and LifeMile award charts. At that time LifeMiles offered cheaper redemptions to many destinations in economy and to almost all destinations in business or first class.

LifeMiles still offers better value than United on non-United Star Alliance partners in business and first classes, but its award chart is not the beauty that it once was. Here are the changes that will take place on October 15:

One Way Economy Class Award Prices in Thousands of LifeMiles

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Most economy redemptions will stay the same or experience only a modest price increase. Notable exceptions are awards to Southern Central America and awards to Southern Asia, which will rise in price by 20%

One Way Business Class Award Prices in Thousands of LifeMiles

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 9.36.40 PM

We start to see some significant price increases on the business class chart. Most of the chart will experience a 20% price increase, with only the US 49 + Canada and Hawaii remaining stable. Mexico, the Caribbean, Northern Central America, Northern South America, and Oceania are the other territories that will have a price increase of less than 20%.

One Way First Class Award Prices in Thousands of LifeMiles

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 9.37.54 PM

On the first class award table we again see mostly 20% increases in price. Awards to Southern Central America will be devalued by a whopping 22.6%. In contrast, awards to Southern South America will be devalued by a paltry 3.5%. prices to the US 49 + Canada and Hawaii again remain stable.  Award prices to Mexico, the Caribbean, Northern Central America, and Northern South America will be devalued less than 20%.

Buying LifeMiles Devaluation

Buying LifeMiles in the past has been a relatively cheap proposition. The full price is 3 cents per mile, but there are frequent 100% bonus sales that result in a price of 1.5 cents per mile.

Unfortunately, the price of LifeMiles is rising by 10% on October 1, 2014. This price increase hurts all the more when coupled with the award chart devaluation.

Until October 1 it is still possible to buy LifeMiles at the old price and to use LifeMiles at the old chart award redemption rates. If you have been earning 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar spent using your Arrival card, take full advantage of the next opportunity to buy LifeMiles for 1.5 cents each, which I will cover. Then, burn your LifeMiles before the devaluation and beat the airline to the punch.

Recap

LifeMiles recently announced that it will devalue its award chart starting October 15, 2014.

Starting October 1, LifeMiles will cost 10% more to buy.

Like United, LifeMiles has announced its devaluation in advance. This gives us a chance to burn LifeMiles before the devaluation. If you don’t have any LifeMiles or don’t have enough LifeMiles right now, then you still have time to buy and spend LifeMiles at the old rate.

Getting LifeMiles

You can get the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3k in the first 90 days.

Then the next time LifeMiles are sold for 1.5 cents each–50% cheaper than their regular rate–you can buy LifeMiles with Arrival miles.

The net effect is getting 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar on all your purchases.

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