Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a popular program in Canada for its co-branded MBNA credit cards, great deals on redemptions, and frequent mileage sales.

With their current sale, you can earn up to 60% bonus miles on your purchase. This sale is only for a very brief period, ending on 11:59pm PST on September 15, 2022, so be sure to capitalize before then if you’re interested.

Buy Alaska Miles with a 60% Bonus

Normally, Alaska Airlines sells miles for 2.75 US cents per mile, plus a 7.5% tax recovery fee, for a total of 2.96 US cents per mile. Luckily, Alaska frequently offers discounts on purchasing miles.

Alaska is known for running targeted “mystery bonuses.” It seems the best available offer is for up to 60% bonus on purchased miles, structured like so:

  • 60% bonus when you buy 40,000–100,000 miles
  • 50% bonus when you buy 20,000–39,000 miles
  • 40% bonus when you buy 3,000–19,000 miles

Log in with your Mileage Plan account to see the exact breakdown of your bonus, as not all members are given the best available offer.

With a 60% bonus, you could buy 160,000 Alaska miles for $2,956.25 (USD) including tax, at a cost of 1.85 US cents per mile.

At our current valuation of 1.8 US cents per mile, that price is essentially on par with our valuation, and could represent a good deal if you have a specific use in mind.

Historically, Alaska tends to offer bonuses in the 35% to 60% range, although we’ve seen rare offers as high as 70%. If you’ve dabbled with the thought of buying Alaska miles and have the highest offer available to you, 60% is a great rate at which to buy.

After September 15, you’ll still get up to a 50% bonus on purchased miles until September 22.

How many miles can you buy?

Unless you have elite status with Alaska, each Mileage Plan member is limited to receiving 150,000 miles per calendar year from mileage purchases, whether buying for yourself or being gifted from someone else.

This limit only applies to base miles, although there’s a limit of 100,000 base miles per transaction. If you split your purchase up into multiple transactions, you could buy up to 240,000 miles including the 60% bonus, assuming you haven’t already bought or been gifted Alaska miles this year.

Which credit card should you use to buy Alaska miles?

Mileage Plan sells miles through Points.com. As you aren’t buying directly from Alaska Airlines, you won’t earn any bonus points for using an Alaska Airlines credit card.

The purchase won’t code as travel for the category accelerator either. Instead, you could consider any card with a high base earn rate, or one where you’re working towards meeting the minimum spend requirement.

The purchase will be charged in USD. To avoid extra costs, you should use a US credit card.

If you use a card with a Canadian billing address, you’ll be charged GST/HST on top of the Tax Recovery Fee, so even if you have a Canadian card with no foreign transaction fees, I’d recommend using it only as a last resort.

Who Should Buy Alaska Miles?

Buying miles can be a good way to top up your account if you’re keen to make a redemption soon.

Booking an Expensive Aspirational Flight

I should note that there’s some uncertainty around the future value of Alaska Mileage Plan.

Since Alaska has joined Oneworld in March 2021, they’ve been slowly rolling out new partner charts for Qatar Airways, Iberia, Royal Air Maroc, and Air Tahiti Nui, and they’ve also made a commitment that any changes to existing award charts will be announced with at least 90 days’ notice.

With that in mind, Alaska’s award chart continues to offer some spectacular rates on exquisite First Class cabins.

A few examples from Canada or the US include Cathay Pacific First Class for 70,000 miles one-way with a stopover in Hong Kong, or Japan Airlines First Class for 70,000 miles one-way with a stopover in Tokyo.

Compared to the exorbitant cash prices, award tickets can be booked for absolutely wild value. 70,000 Alaska miles at 1.8 US cents per mile is worth $1,260 (USD). Compare this to a cash price $14,121 (USD) for Japan Airlines First Class, and you’re looking at the dictionary definition of outsized rewards!

Viewed another way, this redemption would be worth 20.2 US cents per mile, over 11 times the baseline value of a mile – and that’s before considering the option of adding a stopover for no additional cost.

At these rates, it would make sense to buy miles if you have a specific high-value redemption planned. Buying at around 2 cents per mile sounds steep, but not when you’re confident that the value will outstrip the cost many times over.

Even if you’re starting from scratch and need to buy all of the miles required for this ticket, with a 60% promotion the cost of the miles would be $1,300 (USD) including fees – a very modest premium on top of their baseline value, and a no-brainer compared to a revenue fare.

Of course, this only makes sense if you can find award space. Even though they can be booked online on the Alaska search engine, JAL First Class awards can be tough to snag as they’re notoriously popular.

I’d recommend ensuring that you’ve lined up your seats before pulling the trigger on a points purchase.

Quick Top-Up for an Upcoming Redemption

If you’ve identified a good opportunity to redeem your Alaska miles at a value you like, but your account is just shy of the amount you need, you may find it palatable to pay above baseline value to make up the difference.

As long as you’re redeeming above the 1.85 US cents per mile cost of buying with this promotion, you’ll come out ahead.

Even if you redeem for less, it may still be worth it. After all, your miles are useless if you don’t have enough to make the bookings you desire. If the bulk of your miles were acquired at a very low cost, you can still get good value on the average cost of your miles, even with a slight premium for the instant gratification of a modest mileage purchase.

However, generally speaking, if I’m a little short in one points program for a low-end redemption, I’d first look to make the booking with other programs that may offer a better deal, or even cash. In less urgent cases, I’m happy to keep collecting until I have enough to redeem at a value I like better.

Cathay Pacific First Class

Other Ways to Earn Alaska Miles

Before rushing to buy miles at a promotional rate, I’d first look to other sources at lower costs, if you don’t need the miles immediately to make a booking.

Canadian Credit Cards by MBNA

Primarily, Alaska Miles can be earned from the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard, with a welcome bonus of 30,000 miles for spending $1,000 in the first three months.

The card’s lower-income variant, the MBNA Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard, offers 20,000 miles with the same spending requirement, and you can’t hold both cards at once.

For an annual fee of $99, the World Elite card represents buying 31,000 Alaska miles at 0.32 (CAD) cents per mile, or about 0.25 US cents per mile. Certainly this is cheaper than buying miles outright, although a much slower path to accumulating a big balance.

Also, you can sometimes find offers from MBNA with statement credits of $100–200, more than enough to offset the annual fee.

MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercards

US Credit Cards by Bank of America

If you have a social security number, you could also apply for Bank of America’s co-branded cards.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature currently has a welcome bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 (USD) in the first three months. 

Meanwhile, the Alaska Airlines Visa Business offer is at an astounding 70,000 miles upon spending $4,000 (USD) in the first three months.

Both cards have frequent credits equivalent to a first-year fee rebate and occasional elevated points offers. Otherwise, at an annual fee of $75 or $50, respectively, the cost of acquiring points is 0.15 US cents per mile for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature or 0.07 US cents per mile for the Alaska Airlines Visa Business.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to Alaska Mileage Plan at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000 mile bonus when transferred in chunks of 60,000 Bonvoy points.

At our present valuation of 0.7 US cents per point, 60,000 Bonvoy points are worth $420 (USD). When transferred to Alaska Mileage Plan, this is equivalent to buying 25,000 miles at 1.68 US cents per mile.

This is still lower than the baseline Alaska redemption value of 1.8 US cents per mile, and cheaper than the promotional cost to buy miles outright. Depending on your Bonvoy balance and hotel redemption goals, you’ll have to weigh whether this is a better choice than paying cash for Alaska miles.

Mileage Plan Shopping

You may also turn to the Mileage Plan Shopping portal for bonuses on online purchases at many popular worldwide retailers ranging from technology to sportswear companies. High bonuses can often be found around big shopping days like Black Friday or Boxing Day.

In my experience, miles usually arrive within two weeks, although many stores have restrictions for purchases outside of the US.

Previous Promotions

As you weigh whether this promotion is a good opportunity for you to meet your travel goals, here’s a snapshot of Alaska Mileage Plan’s previous offers on mileage sales, covering all promotions during the past year:

Up to 60% more purchased miles

Up to 60% more purchased miles

Up to 60% more purchased miles

Up to 60% more purchased miles

Up to 50% more purchased miles

Up to 60% more purchased miles

Up to 50% more purchased miles

Up to 60% more purchased miles

Up to 60% more purchased miles

Conclusion

Alaska Mileage Plan’s 60% bonus promotion on miles purchases is a great opportunity to push your balance over the hump for a dream trip. Make sure to take advantage in the coming days before September 15, 2022 to maximize this offer.

Thankfully, even after joining the Oneworld alliance, Alaska has confirmed that their award chart will continue to offer their current unique sweet spots for now, and that they will provide at least 90 days’ notice of any changes to their redemption charts.

If there’s any announcement in the coming months about any impending changes to Alaska’s flight rewards, you’d still have time to redeem the points you bought under this promotion and squeeze in one last sweet spot.

That said, if you don’t have a specific redemption in mind, you may prefer to go the slow route by focusing on credit card bonuses and transfers, and looking forward to the next points sale in case a purchase makes sense in the future.

Quoted from Various Sources
Published for: Valentino Pattaya