Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

Avianca Vuela Visa Card Review

overall rating
3.5

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Note: Avianca Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York in May. While the Avianca Vuela Visa card is still available, you may wish to consider other, more flexible travel card options such as the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card that earn ThankYou Points that can be redeemed for travel on multiple Star Alliance airlines, including Avianca.

The Avianca Vuela Visa card’s solid intro offer and rewards rates are backed by an incredibly valuable rewards program, making it worth considering, especially if you travel regularly to Central America. The card’s annual fee is a bit steeper than average for most airline credit cards, though.

Avianca Vuela Visa® Card

overall rating
3.5
Avianca Vuela Visa® Card
On Banco Popular's Secured Site.

Current Offer:

Earn 40,000 LifeMiles after first purchase.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.24% - 26.24% variable
Annual Fee $149
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 LifeMiles per $1 spent on Avianca purchases , 2 per $1 spent at gas stations and grocery stores, and 1 per $1 spent on all other purchases.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 12 Months
Balance Transfer Fee 2% of the amount of each transfer (minimum $2; maximum $10)
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

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

Pros
  • 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

Cons
  • $149 annual fee

  • Only a single Avianca benefit

Pros Explained

  • 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.”  

Cons Explained

  • $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

  • Avatar for Loyalty Status Seeker Persona
    Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
    Loyalty Status Seeker
  • Avatar for Frequent Flyer Persona
    Flies often for business or leisure
    Frequent Flyer
  • Avatar for Frequent Diner Persona
    Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
    Frequent Diner
  • Avatar for International Traveler Persona
    Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
    International Traveler

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. 

Average Case

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.

Aspirational Case

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.  

Standard Benefits

  • Auto-collision damage waiver
  • Travel accident insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cardholder Experience

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.

Security Features

The card comes with standard security features, including protection against unauthorized charges.  

Our Verdict

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.

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For Avianca Vuela Visa® Card
on Banco Popular's Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Avianca Vuela Visa® Card
overall rating
3.5
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.24% - 26.24% variable
Annual Fee $149
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 LifeMiles per $1 spent on Avianca purchases , 2 per $1 spent at gas stations and grocery stores, and 1 per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.