The Avianca Vuela Visa Card is not one of our top-rated airline credit cards. You can review our list of the best airline credit cards for what we think are better options.
Full Review of Avianca Vuela Visa Card
Solid rewards on spending with Avianca and on gas and groceries
Big spenders can half the miles required for an annual award flight
Miles can be redeemed with many other airlines
$149 annual fee
Only a single Avianca benefit
- Solid Rewards on Spending with Avianca and on Gas and Groceries: Strong points value combined with decent multipliers per dollar spent make the Avianca Vuela Visa a fairly rewarding card, at least on select purchases. 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.
- Big Spenders Can Half the Miles Required for an Annual Award Flights: In addition to the rewards program, the card also offers a 50% discount on one award flight annually from the U.S. to Central America or Colombia, or vice versa, after you spend $12,000 in a year. If you spend an additional $12,000 during the year, you receive a second 50% discount. The discount only applies to flights operated by Avianca. Still, if you spend $1,000 or more each month on credit cards and travel to eligible countries at least once a year, you’ll effectively be able to double the value of your miles on an award ticket.
- 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 Vuela 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.”
- $149 Annual Fee: The Avianca Vuela Visa charges a $149 annual fee. That’s higher than the $100 or less that many other airline credit cards charge, and there’s no first-year waiver with Avianca Vuela Visa, which some other cards offer.
- Only a Single Avianca Benefit: Many airline credit cards offer priority boarding and discounts on certain inflight purchases, but those benefits are absent with this card. You do get an additional checked bag for travel between the U.S. and Central America, though. That can come in handy because not all fares come with a complimentary checked bag if you don’t have elite status with the airline.
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 Vuela Visa card 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 Vuela Visa Card One-Time Offer
The card offers 40,000 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 $912, based on an average value of 2.28 cents per mile. That’s more than five times the card’s annual fee.
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.
Rewards Earning Details
You’ll earn 3 miles per dollar on Avianca purchases, 2 miles per dollar at gas stations and grocery stores and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. Since some other airline credit cards only offer bonus miles on purchases made with the carrier, these rates represent decent rewards.
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 can 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 can be enough for one or more roundtrip flights.
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 a 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 but not by much. However, if you use one of your 50% discount certificates, you’ll only pay 17,500 miles on the return flight instead of 35,000.
Reducing the total cost to 52,500 miles increases your redemption value to 3.47 cents per mile, which is impressive. And if you manage to find a flight fully operated by Avianca, you could increase that value even more.
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-collision damage waiver
- Travel accident insurance
- No foreign transaction fees
The Avianca Vuela Visa card is issued by Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, which isn’t included in the J.D. Power Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The bank also doesn’t have a rating with the Better Business Bureau.
The bank doesn’t provide 24/7 access to customer service; instead, hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Nor does the card come with complimentary access to your credit score, which is standard among major national card issuers in the U.S.
The card comes with standard security features, including protection against unauthorized charges.
The Avianca Vuela Visa card can provide a lot of value through its rewards program, especially if you can spend enough to earn one or both of the card’s 50% discounts on award flights. Plus, with the airline’s membership in the Star Alliance, you’ll have some flexibility with booking flights to more than just Central America and Colombia.
However, if customer experience is a big priority for you, 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 $149 annual fee.
As with any credit card, it’s important to shop around and compare the Avianca Vuela Visa card before you settle on the best option for you.