Middle Age Miles

Interesting Citi ThankYou Points 25% Bonus for Transfers to LifeMiles

Yesterday, Citi announced an interesting 25% bonus for transfers of Citi ThankYou Points (TYPs) into Avianca’s LifeMiles loyalty program. There’s a fairly short window for this transfer bonus, as it’s only available until December 12, 2018.

Details You Need to Know

  • Transfer Citi TYPs to LifeMiles in the Citi ThankYou portal
    • Log in to your Citi online account, click over to the ThankYou site, look under the “Travel” tab on the menu, find the “Points Transfer” option, scroll down to Avianca LifeMiles, and click “Transfer Now”
  • The 25% bonus shows up as an enhanced ratio of 1,000 TYPs : 1,250 LifeMiles
    • Transfers must be made in increments of 1,000 TYPs
    • [The normal transfer rate is 1:1, usually expressed by Citi as 1,000 TYPs : 1,000 LifeMiles]
  • You must have an existing LifeMiles account to receive the transferred points
  • Transfers are near-instant – simply log out of your LifeMiles account and log back in after the transfer, and you should see the miles in your LifeMiles account
  • Avianca is part of the Star Alliance, along with United and major international airlines such as Air Canada, ANA, Austrian, EVA Air, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, SAS, Singapore, Swiss, TAP Portugal, and Turkish Airlines
  • LifeMiles does not seem to have access to all of the Star Alliance airlines’ award space; for example, availability through LifeMiles will be less than what you’ll find if you search on United
  • However, LifeMiles does present a variety of favorable redemption options
  • Importantly, LifeMiles does not pass on any fuel surcharges no matter which airline you fly, but it does apply a $25 booking fee to all award tickets

Thoughts on LifeMiles and This Promotion

LifeMiles has been on my mind this week, as just a few days ago I transferred Citi TYPs to LifeMiles and redeemed them for a short Houston-to-Dallas flight on United for a family member (you can see the details at section #3 of our article, Stories About Redemption – Strategies for 3 of Our Recent Mileage Bookings). In that redemption, we were able to redeem LifeMiles at an excellent 2.5 cents per mile rate compared to a paid fare, and we saved both miles and money compared to booking the same flight using United Mileage Plus. It’s just too bad that this promotion didn’t go into effect a few days sooner – it would have been great to use just 6,000 TYPs for that flight instead of 8,000!

It’s worth noting that LifeMiles often has sales where you can purchase its miles at a discount. The discounts vary, but it’s not particularly unusual to be able to purchase LifeMiles for as little as 1.4 cents per mile. With that kind of purchase option often available, it certainly doesn’t make sense to transfer TYPs into LifeMiles speculatively at the normal ratio. And I wouldn’t be anxious to transfer TYPs into LifeMiles even with the 25% bonus unless I had a specific redemption in mind.

LifeMiles is also a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards (MR), so that’s another way to acquire LifeMiles if a nice redemption opportunity is available. In general, though, I value Amex MR points (baseline value 1.5 cents per point) higher than I value TYPs (baseline value 1.25 cents per point). So, even without the 25% transfer bonus, I’d transfer TYPs for a LifeMiles redemption before I’d transfer MR points. And with the bonus, that definitely tips the balance even heavier toward using TYPs.

The LifeMiles award charts have several sweet spots. One of them I mentioned above – short-haul domestic redemptions. LifeMiles charges just 7,500 miles (plus the $25 fee and taxes (usually $5.60)) for a one-way economy flight within a single “zone” in the US, and the coverage of each zone is fairly large:

  • US Zone 1: Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia
  • US Zone 2: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin
  • US Zone 3: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington*, Wyoming [the published chart lists Washington in Zone 1, but it actually prices out as Zone 3]

In fact, in our spot-checks for this article, we even found a few same-zone flights that priced out less than 7,500 LifeMiles. For example, we found flights between Seattle and Denver for 4,500 or 5,000 LifeMiles and flights between Seattle and LAX for 5,500 LifeMiles.

Flights between US Zone 1 and US Zone 2 cost 10,000 LifeMiles one-way economy, and flights between US Zone 3 and US Zone 1/2 cost 12,500 LifeMiles for a one-way economy ticket. You won’t always find saver-level availability on United flights to be able to take advantage of those rates, but when available they can be very valuable.

Another sweet spot in the LifeMiles redemption chart is US-to-Europe in business class for 63,000 LifeMiles. That’s a very nice one if you can find a flight that fits for you.

Richard Kerr has a year-old article on The Points Guy called Hidden Gems of the Avianca LifeMiles Program that is also interesting if you want to learn more about LifeMiles redemptions. [Disclaimer: I don’t always think The Points Guy gives the best advice, as it’s owned by Bankrate and in the business of selling credit cards – but Richard Kerr is top-notch, and his research and advice are always spot-on.]

Maybe a great LifeMiles sweet spot will fall into your lap during this 25% transfer bonus period, and you can get a fantastic trip out of it for great value! Good luck!

Will you be taking advantage of this promotion? What are the sweet spots you see in the LifeMiles program? Please let us know in the Comments!

At Middle Age Miles, we love to share information and tips to help you get great value for your travel dollar and use points and miles whenever possible. This 25% TYP-to-LifeMiles transfer bonus certainly gives us another tool that we might be able to use to achieve our travel dreams for less! To see all of our insights, please Like and Follow us on social media at:

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