Copa launched ConnectMiles 2 years ago with fanfare and 5,000 mile bonuses.
Those miles are now heading to expiration if you have had no subsequent activity. Mine expire August 7.
I hear the program formerly was great for status matches, and continues to be a solid Star Alliance option for those with paid travel on those airlines. A number of frequent travelers are using the program even if Copa is not their primary airline.
The rest of us have 5,000 miles sitting around and haven’t given them a thought. What to do?
Keeping ConnectMiles Alive
Update: not all activity extends expiration. Donation of miles does not based on tests by reader Chris Johnson and myself, see the comments below.
You only need activity every 24 months to keep ConnectMiles alive.
ConnectMiles has various partners that you can credit activity such as flights to hotel stays to earn a few miles. Book a RocketMiles stay or credit a rental car to ConnectMiles. You can transfer Marriott points to ConnectMiles, but not the reverse.
These all involve effort, diverting earnings from elsewhere, and keeping a zombie program going in your portfolio.
I have no plans to continue with ConnectMiles. Without a major US credit card transfer partner, my scope to scale is limited.
Here are the options I have found to liquidate or top up for an award:
1. Copa award flights. 5,000 miles will get you a domestic flight from Panama City to David, Panama. The chart for Copa flights also lists intra-Colombia flights at 5,000, though I have not found a route they fly. Subject to various fees.
2. Star Alliance award flights. Cheapest is intra-Hawaii for 6,000 miles. Subject to various fees.
3. Copa upgrades. Use their calculator, it looks like the cheapest are intra-Central America for 8,000 miles + $25.
4. Star Alliance upgrades. There are some intra-region upgrades as low as 10,000 miles. See the Star Alliance upgrade chart. I have not encountered partner upgrades that are easy and plenteous, so I won’t try to earn miles in the hope these exist.
5. Transfer miles: $15 per 1,000. Possibly I can combine with my wife’s 5,000, but with the transfer fees and booking fees, I doubt I’ll come out ahead on an award.
6. Buy miles: $30 per 1,000.
6. Gift miles: $30 per 1,000. (This is buying new miles to give, hence the higher price than transfer.)
8. Donate miles. Minimum 500-miles donation. I’ll go with this. Click and done. (Does NOT extend mileage expiration.)