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Are you 1 of the folks who already have most of the major airline credit cards from the big banks? If so, there are still cards you might not have considered that earn miles you can use on lots of different airlines.
Note: If you’re new to miles and points there are much better cards available from the Hot Deals tab. But if you’ve already got most of the cards, the Avianca LifeMiles card could be interesting.
The US Bank LifeMiles Visa card could be a useful addition to your credit card collection, especially if you like earning miles that can be used on Star Alliance airlines, like United Airlines, Air Canada, and Lufthansa!
LifeMiles is the frequent flyer program for Avianca, a South American airline, but you can use the miles on any Star Alliance airline!
US Bank LifeMiles Visa Card
Link: US Bank LifeMiles Visa Signature Card
The Avianca LifeMiles Visa is issued by US Bank, which doesn’t issue a lot of miles and points credit cards. So you probably don’t have many US Bank cards in your wallet! This could be a good card to get if you already have a lot of cards from Chase, Citi, American Express, or Barclays.
With this card, you’ll get:
- 20,000 miles when you make your 1st purchase
- 1 mile per $1 you spend on regular purchases
- 2 miles per $1 you spend on Avianca
- 6,000 miles on your card anniversary each year
- 50% discount on excess baggage charges on Avianca
- Annual fee waived for the 1st year, then $75
The sign-up bonus on the card sometimes increases to 40,000 miles, so it might be worth waiting for that offer to come around again before you apply.
The fine print says if you’re not eligible for the Visa Signature card, US Bank may issue you a regular Visa card or a secured Visa card. The sign-up bonuses on those cards are only 15,000 or 5,000 miles. That isn’t very good! Unfortunately there’s no way to tell which card you’ll get until after you apply.
And the Avianca LifeMiles card charges a foreign exchange fee, so it’s not the best card to use outside of the US. Use a card that does NOT charge foreign exchange fees such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
- Purchase protection
- Travel and rental car insurance
- Concierge services
- Luxury hotel benefits
- Access to special events or promotions like 2-for-1 movie tickets.
I like that the annual fee is waived for the 1st year, but after that, I think the $75 annual fee is too much for a card that doesn’t provide status, lounge access, or bonus spending categories.
What Can You Do With LifeMiles?
What I like:
- You can book 1-way award tickets
- Use miles for tickets on any Star Alliance airline, like United Airlines, Air Canada, and Lufthansa
- NO fuel surcharges!
- A fairly good award chart with some lower priced redemptions compared to other Star Alliance airlines
- You can book your award tickets online
What I do NOT like:
- You can’t book mixed cabin awards (like coach class on 1 segment and Business Class on another) which is bad if you want to fly long-haul Business Class but are connecting from a city that only has regional jets with coach class!
- Connections can’t be more than 12 hours (most airlines allow 24)
- Poor telephone customer service
- You can only book award tickets you find online – if you don’t see it when you search on their website, you can’t book it
Even though you can search for award tickets online, if your itinerary is complicated it probably won’t show up in an online search.
Where Can You Go With the 20,000 Mile Sign-Up Bonus?
The sign-up bonus itself is not enough for a round trip anywhere, except for within Hawaii and the Caribbean. But you could use it for a 1-way coach ticket to:
- Anywhere within the continental US and Canada for 12,500 miles (with 7,500 miles left over)
- Hawaii for 20,000 miles
- Mexico and the Caribbean for 17,500 miles (with 2,500 miles left over)
- The North of South America for 20,000 miles (includes Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru)
Is This Card Worth It?
It depends. If you already have a lot of credit cards from other banks, this could be a good option for you to earn a sign-up bonus with no minimum spending. But 20,000 miles won’t get you very far!
Note: US Bank is known for being strict about approving folks who’ve recently applied for lots of credit cards. So you might want to wait if you’ve had a lot of recent credit inquiries.
It might be challenging to earn the miles for a more expensive award ticket with this credit card, because there aren’t any bonus spending categories. Most spending will only earn 1 mile per $1 you spend.
So you might be better off spending on a card like the (no longer offered) Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Chase Freedom. These cards have bonus spending categories and can be used to earn extra points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall.
And Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to United Airlines, so they can also be used for award tickets on any Star Alliance airline!
The easy-to-get bonus for the Avianca LifeMiles card gets you a 1-way flight to popular tourist destinations like Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Peru. But after the sign-up bonus, miles are difficult to earn with this card. And the $75 annual fee that’s due in the 2nd year is too high for me to want to keep this card active.
However, Avianca frequently runs buy miles promotions, so it might be worth getting the card and topping-up your miles balance during 1 of these promotions for a more expensive award ticket.
Note: Avianca is also known for changing their award program with little notice. So you may not want to sign-up for the card or buy miles unless you plan on redeeming the miles soon.
If you’re new to miles and points there are much better cards available from the Hot Deals tab. But if you’ve already got most of the cards, the Avianca LifeMiles card could be interesting.
The US Bank Avianca LifeMiles Visa has a sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles after your 1st purchase, with no minimum spending requirement. And the annual fee is waived for the 1st year.
Avianca miles can be used on any Star Alliance airline, like United Airlines, Air Canada, or Lufthansa. The sign-up bonus is enough to get you 1-way to Hawaii but it’s difficult to earn more Avianca LifeMiles with this card.
This could be a good card for folks who already have a lot of airline cards from other banks. But I don’t think the card is worth keeping after the 1st year, because you’ll pay a $75 annual fee.