Citibank officially has a new 1:1 airline transfer parter: Avianca LifeMiles. Avianca also has a credit card issued by Banco Popular which is a bank based in Puerto Rico that has offered bonuses as high as 60,000. In addition, you can often purchase Avianca miles for cheap (roughly 1.5 cents per point) so being added as a Citi partner means you have even more ways to quickly supplement your Avianca miles.
Avianca’s award chart
Avianca is the flag carrier of Colombia and it has some pretty decent redemption sweet spots, especially for economy. Here’s a look at some of the award chart redemptions for Avianca LifeMiles on Star Alliance partners. Some of these aren’t the best rates available but I’ve still included them for your reference.
All mileage requirements are for roundtrips.
Mexico and the Caribbean
- Economy: 35,000
- Business Class: 70,000
These redemption rates aren’t particularly impressive since again you can use Southwest, British Airways Avios, and JetBlue to get down to the Caribbean/Mexico for much cheaper (with miles). Even with some of the major programs like Flying Blue and American Airlines, you can get down to Mexico or the Caribbean for 25,000 to 30,000 miles. So while the economy rate isn’t horrible, it’s not exactly a sweet spot.
Upper South America : Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
- Economy: 40,000
- Business Class: 80,000
These rates to upper South America are okay although you can definitely find cheaper routes using Alaskan Airlines miles and American Airlines, which can be as low as 30,000 roundtrip in economy and 60,000 roundtrip for business class.
Lower South America: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia
- Economy: 60,000
- Business Class: 120,000
These rates are bit more competitive than the rates to Upper South America. However, when it comes to business class you can find much better deals. For example, ANA allows you to book Star Alliance partner United in business for only 80,000 roundtrip and only about $87 in fees! That’s only 20,000 more miles than what’s required by Avianca for economy. You can also find better redemptions with Alaskan Airline miles and many other partners.
The one sweet spot for Avianca miles is getting to Brazil since it has its own redemption rate.
- Economy: 60,000
- Business Class: 100,000
That 100,000 roundtrip in business class is one of the best rates out of any airline for getting to Brazil in business class and definitely a nice little sweet spot.
Overall, the redemptions to South America aren’t horrible, but (Brazil aside) they aren’t exactly among the best, especially since South America is a destination where you can use ANA miles and avoid surcharges.
- Economy: 60,000
- Business Class: 126,000
60,000 roundtrip to Europe isn’t that bad, although there are plenty of options for getting to Europe for 50,000 miles or under. As for business class, 126,000 miles is a little bit on the expensive side for miles especially since once again, you could use other airlines to get to Europe in business class for much cheaper. For example, ANA only requires 88,000, JAL can be as low as 65,000, Korean Air only requires 80,000, Singapore Airlines can be under 100,000, and a few others can be at the 100,000-110,000 mile requirement.
Still, it is worth noting that 126,000 miles is still cheaper than a United partner award (140,000) and with no fuel surcharges, the higher mileage requirement isn’t as bad as it first appears compared to those other airlines.
Thus, overall Avianca might be worth considering for economy but I wouldn’t prioritize a business class award with Avianca to Europe, unless I really wanted to avoid surcharges.
- Economy: 80,000
- Business Class: 156,000
The economy rate at 80,000 roundtrip to South Africa is pretty competitive compared to most airlines and wouldn’t be a bad redemption. 156,000 for business class is not exactly on the cheap side although it’s on par with major US airlines like United and American. I’d still prefer to look into options like ANA for business class since it can be as low as 104,000 miles roundtrip to South Africa. For more information on sweet spots to South Africa check out my article on the best ways to use miles and points to get to South Africa.
Japan (North Asia)
- Economy: 70,000
- Business Class: 150,000
70,000 to Japan in economy isn’t terrible but considering how amazing the redemptions on ANA, JAL, Alaskan Airline miles can be to get to Japan, I would rather not go with Avianca when getting to Japan. For example, for just 5,000 more miles than what you would use for an economy roundtrip to Japan with Avianca LifeMiles, you could get a roundtrip on ANA in business class (75,000 miles off-peak with very little in fees). Also, the 150,000 in business class is way higher than what a lot of different airlines offer, so I wouldn’t use that redemption.
- Economy: 90,000
- Business Class: 162,000
The economy redemption for 90,000 roundtrip is competitive with most other programs, although many programs offer roundtrips for 80,000 miles. The 162,000 for a roundtrip in business class is on par with American Airlines and United (partner redemptions) but business class tickets can be had for much cheaper with ANA or Alaskan miles. In fact roundtrip business class tickets on ANA can be as low as 105,000. Click here to find many cheaper ways to get to Australia with miles and points.
Overall, this is great news for Citi, as adding a program like Avianca adds real value to their rewards program. While I’m not crazy about all of the redemption rates for Avianca, the lack of surcharges and ease of building up an Avianca balance make a lot of their rewards pretty obtainable.