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Avianca Vuela Credit Card Review: For a Limited Time, Earn up to 60,000 Miles and Take Advantage of Cheaper Star Alliance Award Flights

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Avianca Vuela Credit Card Review: For a Limited Time, Earn up to 60,000 Miles and Take Advantage of Cheaper Star Alliance Award Flights

Caroline LupiniAvianca Vuela Credit Card Review: For a Limited Time, Earn up to 60,000 Miles and Take Advantage of Cheaper Star Alliance Award FlightsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: The Avianca Vuela Visa® Card comes with benefits like discounts when you purchase Avianca LifeMiles, and free bags and discounts on award tickets when you meet a spending threshold.

If you’re a fan of Avianca LifeMiles, the increased welcome bonus on the Avianca Vuela Visa® Card card could be very rewarding. For a limited time through December 31, 2019, you can earn up to 60,000 Avianca LifeMiles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

Even if you never plan to fly Avianca or travel to South America, you can redeem Avianca LifeMiles for award flights on other Star Alliance member airlines like United, Lufthansa, Turkish, Thai and more. In fact, there are a number of sweet spots within the LifeMiles program that can even save you miles compared to booking with another program. For example, a first-class flight to North Asia would cost you 120,000 United Airlines miles one-way, but you would only have to pay 90,000 Avianca LifeMiles for the same flights.

Once you have some miles in the bank, Avianca offers a myriad of ways to combine them with miles that are purchased or generated through transfer bonuses. This can get you quickly on your way to an award, and Avianca offers some great mileage redemptions to boot.

Here’s our full Banco Popular Avianca Vuela Visa Credit Card review.

Find out how to redeem your Avianca LifeMiles to fly to colorful Argentina in our Banco Popular Avianca Vuela credit card review. (Photo by Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock)

Avianca Vuela Bonus

Apply Here: Banco Popular Avianca Vuela Visa Credit Card

Through December 31, 2019, the Avianca Vuela card comes with an increased bonus of up to 60,000 Avianca miles (called LifeMiles) after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements:

  • 40,000 Avianca LifeMiles after your first purchase in the first 90 days
  • 20,000 bonus Avianca LifeMiles after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening

To earn the 20,000 bonus miles after qualifying purchases, you must enter promo code SB4060 when you complete your application.

Although it’s virtually no effort to earn the miles, LifeMiles can be more challenging to use compared to other airline miles.

It’s easy to get at least 1.7 cents per mile in value from LifeMiles, making the welcome bonus worth at least $1,020. It’s possible to swing a high-end redemption like premium cabin awards which could give you even more value for your miles. You can book a one-way business-class flight between Hawaii and Japan for only 48,000 LifeMiles, so the sign-up bonus alone would give you more than enough miles for a premium cabin award.

A one-way trip from the US to Spain will cost only 63,000 Avianca LifeMiles. (Photo by Alexander Kirch/Shutterstock)

If you can find availability (which is more limited than with other airline programs), you can enjoy great value with LifeMiles. A one-way trip from North America to Europe in business class costs just 63,000 LifeMiles. It’s 79,000 LifeMiles in business class from North America to Southeast Asia.

Unlike other airline programs, LifeMiles charges less for mixed cabin itineraries (so, for example, if you fly in economy class between Newark and San Francisco, and then in business class from San Francisco to Tokyo, the price is less than if you traveled the entire way in business class). Best of all, there are no fuel surcharges with LifeMiles.

Benefits and Perks of the Avianca Vuela Card

The Avianca Vuela Visa offers benefits optimized for people who fly Avianca and visit South America, along with the usual slate of premium credit card benefits.

Benefits When Flying Avianca

These benefits are only going to come in handy if you actually fly with Avianca, but they offer some good potential to save money or miles.

  • A free additional piece of baggage for travel between the United States and Central America
  • A 50% discount on an award ticket redeemed for travel to Central America or Colombia from the United States after $12,000 spent each year
  • An additional 50% discount on an award ticket redeemed for travel to Central America or Colombia from the United States after $24,000 spent each year

Discounts on Purchased Miles

Avianca frequently offers sales for purchasing miles, and with the Avianca Vuela Visa card, you can always get a 15% discount on mile purchases with Multiply Your Miles.

Secondary Auto Rental Insurance

This benefit provides secondary comprehensive and collision coverage, which means that if something happens to your rental car, you’ll have to make a claim to your own car rental insurance first. Since most car insurance won’t cover international rentals, your Avianca Vuela card will take care of you when renting abroad. Note that liability insurance is not provided, and this is a generally required extra purchase throughout Avianca’s destination markets.

Travel Accident Insurance

We all hope that nothing happens to us while we’re traveling, but it’s good to have a credit card that will offer coverage, just in case. The Avianca Vuela card offers limited travel accident insurance in case you ever need it.

Is the Avianca Vuela Card Worth the Annual Fee?

The Avianca Vuela credit card is definitely worth paying for the first year because the 60,000-mile sign-up bonus is worth far more than the fee, but what about year after year?

If you know you will be flying at least one Avianca flight per year between the US and Central America or northern South America, and you’d like to check at least one second bag in your party, you’ll be saving $100 on baggage fees. This would drop the net annual fee from $149 to $49, and it’s easy to find value in the card to justify that reduced fee.

The Avianca Vuela card also pays for itself if you use the 50% discount toward award travel to Central America or Colombia from practically any US destination (particularly if you’re flying in a premium cabin). Additionally, savvy travelers who are patient enough to learn the sweet spots of Avianca’s Star Alliance partner awards and buy LifeMiles to take advantage of these sweet spots could find enough value to justify the annual fee.

Other benefits can be less compelling. If you make large mileage purchases, the benefit can pay for itself, but this requires a mileage purchase of over $1,000.

The bonus categories are nice, but be sure to stack them up versus cards that earn Citi ThankYou points, Capital One miles and American Express Membership Rewards whose points can all transfer to LifeMiles (often with transfer bonuses).

Another thing to consider is that if you close the card, you will not be eligible to carry it in the future. Accordingly, even if you don’t fully utilize the benefits in a given year, it may be worth keeping the card if you plan to do so the following year.

The toughest thing about this card is qualifying. The Avianca Vuela card is available only to people who have never held either the Avianca Vuela or Avianca Vida Visa® Card from Banco Popular de Puerto Rico. Even if you have a high income and credit score, it’s not unusual for Banco Popular de Puerto Rico to demand tax returns or deny applications outright.

Also keep in mind that if you get this card, it will add to your Chase 5/24 count. That means if there are Chase cards you are thinking about applying for, it makes more sense to get those first. Once you are over 5/24, you won’t be eligible for most Chase cards.

How to Earn LifeMiles With the Avianca Vuela Card

The Avianca Vuela card is a fairly standard airline rewards card with some extra bonus categories.

You can earn 2 LifeMiles for each dollar you spend at grocery stores. (Photo by MikeDotta/Shutterstock)

For ongoing spend, you can earn:

  • 3 LifeMiles per dollar spent on Avianca purchases
  • 2 LifeMiles per dollar spent at gas stations and grocery stores
  • 1 LifeMile per dollar spent on everything else.

For spending in bonus categories, this card is a solid option.

How to Use Avianca LifeMiles

An entire article could be dedicated to using the LifeMiles program. LifeMiles has its own website and you can book flights that are available there. And you can make all of your bookings online.

While it’s definitely possible to book great award flights, keep in mind that availability is often more limited than with other Star Alliance programs. With LifeMiles, “strike while the iron is hot” should be your motto.

You can use your LifeMiles to fly on Avianca, but you can also redeem with Avianca’s Star Alliance partners like United Airlines. (Photo by Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock)

As an award program, LifeMiles is pretty simple and it’s fine for what it is. Just go in with the right set of expectations. You can book what shows up on the website, and you can’t book what doesn’t. No stopovers or complicated routings are permitted.

In exchange for somewhat limited availability and routing options, LifeMiles has lower redemption rates than other programs and no fuel surcharges (there is a $25 redemption fee applied to one-way or round-trip itineraries).

We’ve mentioned a few of our favorite Avianca sweet spots already, but here are a few more to get you dreaming about how you’re going to use your miles:

  • Fly Lufthansa first class to Europe, starting at 87,000 LifeMiles one-way. The same flights would cost 110,000 United miles.
  • Fly across the US in business class on United for only 25,000 LifeMiles one-way. The same transcontinental flights would cost 35,000 United miles.
  • Fly from the US to Australia or New Zealand in coach for only 40,000 LifeMiles one-way. This is the same price that United would charge.
  • Fly from the US to South Asia in coach for only 39,000 LifeMiles one-way. This is 1,000 fewer miles each way than United would charge.
  • Fly from the US to Southern South America in coach for only 30,000 LifeMiles one-way. United would charge 40,000 miles for the same flights.

Does the Avianca Vuela Credit Card Charge Foreign Transaction Fees?

No.

Customer Support for the Avianca Vuela Credit Card

Customer support for the Avianca Vuela card can be challenging. It’s best to fully manage the card online if possible. Customer service is based in Puerto Rico and is available during Puerto Rico hours.

Similar Cards to the Avianca Vuela Credit Card

Before you decide on the Avianca Vuela card, here are a few similar cards that are worth considering.

  • American Express® Gold Card
    • Read our review of the American Express Gold Card
      • Welcome bonus of 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership. Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Avianca LifeMiles. Offers similar category bonuses but in more categories, and Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Avianca LifeMiles. However, the annual fee ($250) is roughly double. (See rates and fees)
  • Avianca Vida Visa® Card
    • Read our review of the Avianca Vida
      • Limited-time welcome bonus through December 31, 2019 of up to 40,000 LifeMiles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements. If you want to earn LifeMiles, but the fee on the Avianca Vuela Card is too steep, consider this card. With only a $59 annual fee and a number of Avianca-related benefits, it might be a good option.
  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
    • Read our review of the Capital One Venture
      • Welcome bonus of 50,000 Venture miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months. If you’re looking for a card that offers a simple earning structure — 2 Venture miles per dollar spent on all purchases — then this card might be for you. Points can be transferred to Avianca LifeMiles at a less favorable 2:1.5 ratio. This card also has a $95 annual fee (waived for the first year).

Bottom Line

The Avianca Vuela Visa is a great card to pick up for the limited-time bonus of up to 60,000 Avianca LifeMiles after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

Even if you never plan to fly Avianca, LifeMiles are great for Star Alliance awards! Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Fly Lufthansa first class to Europe starting at 87,000 LifeMiles one-way
  • Fly from the US to Southern South America for only 30,000 LifeMiles each way in coach
  • Fly across the US in United Polaris business class for only 25,000 LifeMiles each way

And, this card also has some nice additional benefits, including:

  • A free additional piece of baggage when flying Avianca between the US and Central America
  • A 50% discount on an award ticket redeemed for travel to Central America or Colombia from the United States after $12,000 spent each year
  • An additional 50% discount on an award ticket redeemed for travel to Central America or Colombia from the United States after $24,000 spent each year
  • Discounts on purchased miles
  • Secondary auto rental insurance
  • Travel accident insurance

The first four benefits especially can add up to some big savings if you fly Avianca, buy Avianca miles and/or redeem Avianca LifeMiles each year.

However, it can take some work to get approved, and some effort to use the miles. If you’re willing to invest the time, this card can be moderately rewarding.

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For the rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, please click here.

Avianca Vuela Visa® Card

Avianca Vuela Visa® Card

  • Standard 40,000 welcome bonus after first purchase, plus 20,000 bonus miles after at least $1,000 spend on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening (total of 60,000). Promo code SB4060 must be entered when completing application in order to receive the additional 20,000 welcome bonus miles after qualifying purchases.
  • Earn 3 LifeMiles per $1 spent on Avianca purchases
  • Earn 2 LifeMiles per $1 spent at gas stations and grocery stores
  • Earn 1 LifeMile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 15% discount on purchases of miles with Multiply Your Miles

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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