The Aviance Vida Visa is not one of our top-rated airline credit cards. You can review our list of best airline credit cards what we think are better options.
Full Review of Avianca Vida Visa Card
Solid rewards on spending with Avianca
Miles can be redeemed with many other airlines
Save on interest charges when you transfer a balance
The card charges an annual fee
No special perks when you fly with Avianca
Avianca Airlines’ bankruptcy may impact cardholders
- Solid Rewards on Spending with Avianca: Strong points value combined with 3 points per dollar spent make the Avianca Vida Visa a fairly rewarding card, at least for purchases from its airline. Avianca’s LifeMiles points are worth 2.28 cents each, according to Investopedia’s valuation. That high value makes the three points earned on every dollar spent with Avianca worth about 6.8 cents and the two points earned on gas and groceries worth about 4.6 cents.
- Miles Can be Redeemed With Many Other Airlines: LifeMiles is a member of the Star Alliance, which includes 26 member airlines. This means that you can use your Avianca LifeMiles to book eligible flights through Avianca with partner airlines like United Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and many more. That flexibility in redemption may be especially valuable at the moment. Based in Columbia and hard-hit by the COVID-19 crisis, Avianca has been struggling financially, and was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the time of writing in late May 2020. While those difficulties might make it worrying to receive an Avianca-branded rewards card, the miles you earn with the Avianca Vida Visa are safe, according to LifeMiles, the program under which the rewards reside. LifeMiles says it “remains well capitalized and LifeMiles' assets are insulated from Avianca's reorganization process.”
- Save on Interest Charges When You Transfer a Balance: The card offers an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months, giving you a year to pay down a high-interest balance from another credit card. What’s more, the card’s balance transfer fee is low at 2% of the transfer amount, and there’s a $10 maximum fee. This means that if you transfer more than $500, you won’t pay an additional fee beyond that threshold amount. The card also has a $2 minimum balance transfer fee. What makes this feature special is that a 0% balance transfer offer is extremely rare for an airline credit card, let alone one that has a relatively modest annual fee.
- $59 Annual Fee: Granted, the $59 annual fee for the Avianca Vida Visa is lower than the tab for many other airline credit cards. However, the card also offers less than those competitors. In fact, with its limited rewards for all but airline purchases and limited valuable benefits, its offerings align most closely with some no-annual-fee airline cards on the market.
- Only a Single Avianca Benefit: Many airline credit cards offer extras on their branded airline such as priority boarding and discounts on certain in-flight purchases. You won’t get any of those benefits with this card, however. The only Avianca-specific perk is a 15% discount on LifeMiles purchases. (And even with a 15% price cut, it’s rarely a good idea to buy miles from the airline because their cost is often higher than their redemption value.)
This Card is Best For
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
The Avianca Vida Visa is primarily designed for international travelers who frequently fly between the U.S. and Central America or Colombia. With these routes, you’ll be able to take advantage not only of the airline’s solid rewards value but also other card benefits, including an extra complimentary checked bag and award flight discounts.
That said, Avianca flies to 75 destinations in total, including countries in Europe, North America and the Caribbean, so you’re not just restricted to a certain region. Also, you can use your LifeMiles to book flights on 25 other airlines through the Star Alliance program, making your options virtually endless.
Avianca Vida Visa Card One-Time Offer
The card offers 20,000 bonus miles after you make your first purchase. While that’s not the biggest airline bonus you can get in terms of miles, it’s worth about $450, based on an average value of 2.28 cents per mile. That value is enough to effectively justify the cost of the card’s annual fee for more than seven years.
What’s more, you’ll get the bonus after making only a single purchase. In contrast, most airline credit cards require you to meet a minimum spending requirement in the first few months with the card. The only other major airline card that provides a sizable one-time offer after just one purchase is the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard.
The Avianca Visa is also appealing to those who seek a low-cost card to which a high-interest balance from another card can be transferred. The card’s one-year 0% APR offer even comes with an unusually low transfer fee.
Rewards Earning Details
You’ll earn 3 miles per dollar on Avianca purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.
Rewards Redemption Details
Avianca offers a handful of options for miles redemption. The most promising in terms of value is booking award flights with the airline, which will give you 2.28 cents per mile on average. However, you can also use your rewards to book award flights through Avianca’s website with one of the airline’s Star Alliance partners, where mile values can vary depending on the partner and the itinerary.
You’ll also have the choice to use miles to pay for baggage fees, upgrades, lounge access and more.
In addition, you can redeem your miles with more than 200 business partners, including retailers, hotel chains, rental-car agencies, and more. Simply inform the merchant that you’d like to use miles to cover the purchase and provide your LifeMiles member number and four-digit PIN.
Redemption values can vary with these options, though, and they may not provide as much value as award flights.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
Avianca LifeMiles are worth 2.28 cents apiece on average when you use them for award flights with the airline. However, that’s just an average, and your actual results could of course be higher or lower, depending on the itinerary.
Depending on the situation, you may also be able to get above-average value on flights you book with Avianca’s Star Alliance partners.
To determine how much your miles are worth for a particular redemption, take the cash price of the ticket, subtract any taxes and fees associated with an award flight, then divide the result by the number of miles required to book the flight.
For example, let’s say you can book a flight from the U.S. to Colombia for $497 or 20,000 LifeMiles plus $40 in taxes and fees. Subtract $40 from $497 to get $457, then divide that by 20,000 miles to get 2.29 cents per mile.
The average cardholder will easily earn the one-time offer, which may be much of what you need for a one-way flight.
As an example, we found a flight from New York City to Belize for $610.45 or 28,000 miles and $87.95 in taxes and fees. That amounts to a points value of 1.87 cents per mile. That’s less than the average value based on Investopedia data, but still a solid redemption value and one that doesn’t require a lot of research.
If you have the time and the desire to maximize your Avianca LifeMiles and manage to earn one or both of the card’s 50% award flight discounts, you may be able to earn far more than the program’s average value.
For example, we found an economy flight from Los Angeles to Bogotá, Colombia, for $1,883.95 on Avianca Airlines. But if you were to use LifeMiles to book an itinerary with Copa Airlines and Avianca on the same dates, you’d only pay 70,000 miles plus $60.76 in taxes and fees.
Alone, that redemption gives you 2.6 cents per mile, which is above average in points value, albeit not by a lot. You may find greater value (though, of course, higher points tabs, too) by moving up in ticket classes. For example, we found a business-class flight from San Francisco, California, to Lima, Peru, for $2,267.69 or 68,480 miles plus $25.82 in taxes and fees for the same dates. (The only catch is that the award flight includes an economy seat between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which is a relatively short flight.)
That said, the redemption value for this option is 3.27 cents per mile, giving you exceptional value.
As this math underlines, for any particular booking, your results can be higher or lower than the average value. The same goes for flights with Star Alliance partners on average when you use them for award flights with the airline.
To calculate the value of your miles with a specific redemption, look up both the cash price of the fare and how much it’d cost to book an award ticket. Then take the cash price and subtract your taxes and fees associated with the award ticket. Finally, you’ll divide that result by the number of miles you need to book the award flight.
As an example, let’s say you’re booking a flight from Chicago, Illinois, to Bogotá, Colombia. A roundtrip flight in economy will cost you $682 or 30,000 LifeMiles plus $52 in taxes and fees. To get the value of the redemption, subtract $52 from $682 to get $630, then divide that number by 30,000 miles to get 2.1 cents per mile.
Avianca Vuela Visa Card’s Outstanding Benefits
- Discount on LifeMiles purchases: If you purchase LifeMiles with the Multiply Your Miles program using your card, you’ll get a 15% discount. That said, buying miles usually costs more than they’re worth in redemption, so it’s rarely a good idea even with a small discount.
- Balance-transfer offer: You’ll get a 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months. While balance transfer promotions aren’t uncommon, they’re rare with airline credit cards.
- Auto-Rental Collision-Damage Waiver. The fee is covered for car rentals, at least to reimburse for any damage not covered under the insurance on your personal car, so the coverage is considered secondary. While this benefit is not uncommon for cards with a low annual fee, it is far from universal, even within that group of cards.
- Travel accident insurance
The card’s issuer is Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, which isn’t included in the J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Study and isn’t rated by the Better Business Bureau.
Being issued by a small bank, the card falls short in customer service in some obvious ways. Banco Popular de Puerto Rico doesn’t provide 24/7 access to customer service for the card, where national card issuers do. Its hours are limited to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The card also doesn’t provide complimentary access to your credit score, either, which is common with major credit card issuers.
The card offers standard security features, including an EMV chip and protection against unauthorized charges.
Fees to Watch Out For
The card charges a 1% foreign transaction fee, which isn’t common with travel credit cards.
However, its $10 maximum for cash advance and balance transfer fees is unique, and will be valuable for someone who uses either of these options for larger transactions.
The Avianca Vida Visa can provide decent value through its rewards program. Plus, with the airline’s membership in the Star Alliance, you’ll have some flexibility with booking flights with other airlines, and to far more destinations than those in Central America and Colombia alone.
If customer experience is a big priority for you, though, it’s important to know that there isn’t a lot of information about how well the card’s issuer, Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, provides that. Also, you’ll need to have both your spending and travel plans aligned with the card’s features to ensure it’s worth its $59 annual fee.
As with any credit card, it’s important to shop around and compare the Avianca Vida Visa before you settle on the best option for you. As part of that process, consider the Avianca Vuela Visa. This sister card charges a $149 annual fee, but it offers an annual discount on an award flight, an extra complimentary checked bag on select flights, and strong rewards on gas and groceries. It also has all the pluses of this card, including the 0% APR offer.