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Sharing miles between frequent flyer programme accounts is usually a poor idea, as often you must pay for the privilege at a price not much less than the cost of simply buying miles.
You might think “if I add my partner’s 15,000 miles to my 55,000 miles I’ll have the 70,000 miles I need for my reward flights”, but you would usually be better off just buying the required 15,000 miles for your account. Sure, you’d pay a bit more today. However your partner’s account would retain a balance of 15,000 miles and you would be able to use them in the future.
Occasionally, however, a promotion comes along that reverts this conventional wisdom. And it only happens when the sharing process involves the creation of new miles in the process. One such promotion is currently being offered by Avianca’s LifeMiles programme.
LifeMiles is notorious for selling miles cheaply, which can then be spent on reward flights on any Star Alliance partner. Repeated devaluations (and closure of loopholes) has sucked some, but not all, of the value out of the programme. But when this “share miles” promotion comes along – pay $15 to share 1,000 miles with a friend or family member – you can generate new miles even cheaper than normal. Here’s how…
- Step 1 – Account 1 shares 20,000 miles with Account 2. Pay $300 to share miles. Account 2 actually receives 45,000 miles.
- Step 2 – Account 2 shares 45,000 miles with Account 1. Pay $675 to share miles. Account 1 actually receives 101,250 miles.
What is the Net Effect?
Thanks to that circular process, you now have an extra 81,250 miles. (101,250 less your original 20,000) You (and your partner) paid $975 for the privilege. (£740 at current exchange rates) This works out to 1.2 US cents per mile. (0.91p), which LifeMiles regulars will know is lower than the 1.5 US cent (sometimes 1.375) standard “promo” price for buying miles.
I Don’t Collect LifeMiles, so What Should I Look For in General?
The key to making this trick work is generating new “bonus” miles in the process. Very few airline loyalty programmes do this on a regular basis, although promotions come along from time to time – I recall spending Christmas 2013 sharing Iberia Plus Avios back and forth with my partner.
It is also a basic requirement that you start off with some miles to “share”. These promotions don’t always go hand-in-hand with the more common “buy miles” promotions, so it helps to have a balance handy.
An often-overlooked element is having accounts opened in the names of people you trust – family, partner, etc. and who don’t mind that you manage their accounts for them. Some of these promotions do not allow newly-opened accounts to participate. Worried about keeping track of random accounts? That’s what AwardWallet is great for!
Although promotions such as this one are rare, they can be excellent methods of generating new miles cheaply… simply by sharing miles with somebody, and having that person share them back to you!
Have you ever shared miles with a friend or family member? Let us know…