Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
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There’s a new offer for the LifeMiles Visa Signature from U.S. Bank that will earn you 35,000 miles. You get 20,000 miles after your first purchase and 15,000 additional miles after you spend $2,500 within the first 90 days of account opening.
The annual fee is waived for the first year. After that it’s $75.
You have until December 31, 2015 to apply.
The normal offer for this card is for just 20,000 miles, so this is a nice step up.
Though it’s not quite as big as the prior high we’ve seen which was for 40,000 miles in early 2014. That offer required more spending over a longer period (120 days).
There are a couple of gotchas to be aware of:
U.S. bank can be strict with approvals. If you don’t qualify for this card beware that you could be approved for a non Signature Visa card that has a smaller bonus of up to 25,000 miles. And if your credit history is very limited you could get pushed into a Secured Visa card that has an even smaller 5,000 mile bonus.
Don’t apply if you’ve had an account open in the last 12 months. If you’ve had this card before, it looks like U.S. Bank allows you to earn a new bonus if it’s been at least 12 months since you last closed your account. Here’s the fine print:
“This offer is valid for new LifeMiles Visa Card accounts only. Previous accounts closed within the last 12 months will be reopened and no First Use bonus LifeMiles will be awarded”
Be prepared to wait for the full bonus to post. Beware that the 2nd bonus of 15,000 miles might not be awarded until 6-8 weeks after the 90 day promotional period, with this language in the fine print:
“Bonus LifeMiles will be credited to your account 6–8 weeks after promotional period.”
Many people who applied for the 40,000 mile bonus ran into this issue and didn’t receive their miles for many weeks after hitting the minimum spending requirement. At least this time around the ‘promotional period’ is 90 days instead of 120 with the last deal.
LifeMiles is the mileage program of Avianca Airlines, which is a South American airline part of Star Alliance.
They’re useful because you can use them to book flights on just about any Star Alliance carrier like United, Lufthansa, or ANA with no fuel surcharges.
And you can often take advantage of special sales to buy LifeMiles for very good prices, like this one from last month that let you buy miles for less than 2 cents a piece.
While there were some great bargains on the LifeMiles award chart last year, most of those have been closed off. Now award prices are pretty run of the mill. Here’s the standard award chart for awards on Star Alliance airlines. Business Class to Europe is 63,000 miles one way, which is a touch less than expensive than United MileagePlus at 70,000 miles one way for Star Alliance partner flights.
Economy Class awards are generally the same as the prices you’re used to with U.S. programs like United MileagePlus.
So 35,000 miles can get you a basic roundtrip domestic Economy ticket or a one way ticket to Europe.
Award availability is generally close to what you’ll get via MileagePlus, but LifeMiles has a habit of blocking some partner award space, on top of making sudden changes to award prices and rules.
So we’d put this in the opportunistic category.
If you’ve successfully purchased and used LifeMiles in the past, go for it as this the most lucrative way to top off your account.
If you’re new to LifeMiles you’re probably better off getting involved by buying miles when they are on sale and you have an immediate trip to book.
Follow @MileCards on Twitter for the latest updates and new offers
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