Alaska Airlines credit cards are a solid option for anyone with good credit who lives in an area served by Alaska Air or one of its 17 airline partners. After you get the sign-up bonus, this card is best for earning Alaska Airlines rewards and supplementing your everyday cards that have more versatile points currencies.
This post is your go-to place for everything about Alaska Airlines credit cards and it’s Mileage Plan frequent flyer program. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is consistently ranked highly by customers and experts alike, offering exceptional redemption values to Hawaii and Asia. Between the low domestic and international premium redemption rates, good sign-up bonuses and its famous annual companion pass, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan should not be overlooked.
This article will cover:
- Top 3 Reasons to Consider Alaska Airlines’ Cards and Program
- Credit Cards That Earn Alaska Airlines Miles
- How to get 89,000 Alaska Airlines Miles in 3 Months
- Why Alaska Airlines Miles Are Awesome
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Partners
- How Far Can Alaska Miles Get You?
Best Credit Cards for Alaska Airlines
- January 2019: Best Alaska Airlines Rewards and Air Miles Credit Cards
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Top 3 Reasons to Consider Alaska Airlines’ Credit Cards
Besides the fantastic redemption rates and generous routing rules, these are the top three reasons to love Alaska Air:
1. Luxury Partners
Alaska Airlines partners with Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Qantas. These airlines are known for their opulent first class products, and Alaska has some of the best redemption rates for these airlines.
2. Changes and Cancellations
You can make unlimited changes or cancel your ticket for free up to 60 days prior to departure.
3. Not Enough Points?
Alaska Airlines offers quarterly sales where you can buy miles for just 2.11 cents each. If you can buy SPG points at a discount, you can transfer them to Alaska where you’ll end up paying only 1.82 cents each. Although you’ll want to earn most of your points through the methods below, it’s good to have a cheap way to fill up your account!
Credit Cards That Earn Alaska Airlines Miles
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably looking for the best way to earn Alaska Airlines miles. The best option, as usual, is through credit cards.
In the case of Alaska, there are three options. While the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card is the best of the bunch, it’s not, in some respects, the best airline card on the market. The sign-up bonus is relatively low, and it does not come with a few features you’d expect from a co-branded airline card, like priority boarding and in-flight discounts.
However, there are still plenty of reasons to get this card over a more expensive one. Here’s the breakdown:
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card
Voted the best co-branded airline credit card by readers of Global Traveler magazine, this card offers an easily attainable sign-up bonus and a fantastic companion pass.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card
- + Special Introductory Offer: Buy 1 ticket, get 1 for just the taxes and fees with Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ Offer.
- + Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Get 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 or more within the first 90 days of your account opening.
- Get Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ every year! Each Year on your account anniversary get a companion fare from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska flights booked on alaskaair.com.
- Save with a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation.
- New - Get exclusive access to discounted redemption levels when you redeem miles for hotel stays at over 400,000 properties using Mileage Plan™ Hotels.
- Earn unlimited miles and travel with no blackout dates and no foreign transaction fees.
One of the most lucrative aspects of this card is that you can actually apply for two per year, every year, and earn new companion passes without having to cancel your old cards and reapply. You’ll also be eligible for the sign-up bonus every time. If you manage your credit and can get approved for a new one every six months, you’ll be making the most of Alaska Airline Mileage Plan in no time!
30,000-Point Sign-Up Bonus: Enough for a Round-Trip Ticket
The sign-up bonus for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature is 30,000 bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days. Most bloggers value these points between 1.9 and 2.5 cents each. Given those valuations, the bonus is worth between $570 and $750.
You can get even better value when traveling abroad. For example, a one-way Cathay Pacific business class ticket on the 12-hour flight from Hong Kong to Tel Aviv costs just 30,000 miles one-way, an insane value when you consider the revenue ticket costs $4,916. As you can tell, this bonus easily justifies the small $75 annual fee.
Alaska Airlines Annual Companion Pass
This could be one of the best credit card perks in the world and is certainly the best for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature. With the companion pass, someone can fly with you for just $99 plus taxes and fees (starting at $22). You’ll get a companion pass after every account anniversary, too. This means you can fly roundtrip from California to Hawaii and your partner will pay as little as $121 to join you.
But wait—it gets even better. New cardholders get a companion fare for just the taxes and fees when they sign up for the card. This saves you $99 your first year and could get you a ticket for as little as $22! This voucher can be applied to all Alaska Airlines or Virgin America flights.
Earn Alaska Airlines Miles
You’ll earn at the following rates with the Alaska card:
- 3x miles on spending with Alaska and Virgin America
- 1x miles on all other purchases
The 3x points earning is higher than on any other airline co-branded credit card, though I wouldn’t regularly use this card for non-Alaska purchases
Other Perks of Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card
The Alaska card comes with a few additional perks, including:
- Free checked bags for you and up to six companions
- No foreign transaction fees
- Earn 5,000 points per referral
While you’ll always want to use your card for Alaska purchases, you don’t even have to use it to take advantage of the free bags benefit as long as you show your card at check-in.
Even if you apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card, you could end up with the Alaska Airlines Visa Platinum Card.
Yes, you heard me right. Occasionally the card issuer, Bank Of America, will not approve you for the Visa Signature card based on your creditworthiness. Instead, they will give you the lower end Visa Platinum card, which has different perks.
They will send you this card without notifying you that it is actually different than the one you applied for. Keep reading to find out what this card has to offer, and what you can do to avoid disappointment.
Alaska Airlines Visa Platinum Plus Credit Card
Did you get this card and miss your chance to appeal the decision? Don’t worry! This isn’t that bad. The card you end up being approved for is determined by several factors, including your income and credit history. If you keep this card, at least for a year, you’ll build a history with Bank of America and hopefully be approved for the Visa Signature the second time around.
Alaska Airlines Visa® Platinum Plus
- 5x Miles on Purchases made through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Dining
- 3x Miles on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America Purchases
- 1x Miles on Gas
- 1x Miles on All Other Purchases
- Earn up to 5 miles per $1 spent using Mileage Plan Dining
- No Foreign Transaction Fee
You’ll get just 5,000 Alaska miles after making $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of the card being issued. While this is an insanely low sign-up bonus, you’re essentially buying 5,000 Alaska Airlines miles for $50, which comes out to one cent each. That’s not a bad deal!
$50 Annual Alaska Voucher
Every year, Bank of America will give you a $50 Alaska Airlines voucher that can be applied to any Alaska Airlines or Virgin America flight. The voucher is sent out just after the first of every new year, so you can end up with two in one year of card membership. Again, this more than offsets the small annual fee.
The Alaska Platinum Plus card earns miles at the following rates:
- 2x miles with Alaska and Virgin America
- 1x miles on all other purchases
These rates are actually on-par with most other co-branded airline credit cards.
Other Perks of Alaska Airlines Visa Platinum Plus Credit Card
The Platinum Plus version of this card comes with the same additional perks as the Visa Signature, including:
- Free checked bags for you and up to six companions
- No foreign transaction fees
- Earn 5,000 points per referral
As you can see, there is still plenty of value to be had with this card.
Things to Note
You cannot apply directly for the Platinum Plus card. Bank of America makes the choice for you. If you want to make sure you get the Visa Signature card, call Bank of America immediately after your application is approved or goes pending. If you’ve been approved for the Platinum Plus, try to convince them you are suitable for the Visa Signature card instead. Alternatively, if they refuse to bump you up to the better card, ask to close the account immediately before they can add it to your credit score.
Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card
This card is similar to the personal Visa Signature card, but the great part is that you can sign-up for both and receive a total of 60,000 miles in sign-up bonuses. Note that this card does not come with the companion pass.
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card
- + Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other purchases
- Limited Time Promotion: Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ + 30,000 Bonus Miles. Buy one ticket, get one for just taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) plus receive 30,000 bonus miles with this offer. To qualify, make purchases of $1,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
- Get Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ every year! That’s right, Each Year on your account anniversary get a companion fare from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska flights booked on alaskaair.com with no blackout dates
- Earn unlimited miles and travel with no blackout dates
- Save with a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation
- No international transaction fees
- + Low annual fee of $50 for the company and $25 per card
30,000-Point Sign-Up Bonus
The Alaska Airlines Visa Business card offers the same 30,000-mile bonus as Alaska Visa Signature card. To receive the bonus, you have to spend $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days after account opening.
Do You Need a Business to Qualify for a Business Card?
Credit card issuers tend to define a business rather loosely when considering customers for business credit cards. You will probably qualify as a small business owner if you’re an independent contractor or freelancer, even if it’s a part-time gig. You can even get a business card if you simply sell items on eBay or Etsy.
Many issuers don’t even require you to provide proof of independent income. They can use your personal credit history instead. Your credit limit will be bigger, though, if you can show that you have a steady revenue stream from your business. But that doesn’t really matter since you can still get the sign-up bonus and perks that come with the business card.
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card: Another Option for Alaska Airlines Miles
Points earned on the SPG credit card are the single most valuable points currency in the world. They can be transferred to over 40 airlines, including Alaska Airlines.
Right now, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card is offering a 75,000-point sign-up bonus, which can be converted into 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles. This card is a must if you travel with miles and points.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- 6x Starpoints at Participating Starwood and Marriott Rewards Hotels
- 2x Starpoints on All Other Purchases
- + 1 Free Night Award every year after Card account anniversary
- 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months
- Receive a 5,000 Starpoint bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a participating frequent flyer program
- No Foreign Transaction Fee
75,000-Point Sign-Up Bonus With the Starwood Preferred Guest Card
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card comes with an outstanding sign-up bonus of 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. While the number of points is incredible, those points are also so valuable that most bloggers consider the bonus to be worth at about $700.
There is also a fantastic benefit that gives you an extra 15,000 points for every 60,000 points transferred to one of SPG’s airline partners. Points transfer to airlines at a rate of 3 to 1. That essentially makes the sign-up bonus worth 30,000 points.
15,000-Point Bonus per 60,000 Points Transferred
This benefit means that a 50,000-point Alaska reward would require 120,000 SPG points.
If you transfer points to an airline with high value award charts, you’ll get excellent value. For example, Alaska Airlines business class award redemptions to Asia cost only 100,000 miles roundtrip.
Since these tickets retail for around $6,000, and you need 240,000 SPG points to book them, you can get a value of 2.5 cents per point.
The SPG Amex earns points at the following rates:
- 6x points per dollar on Starwood and Marriott purchases
- 2x points for all other purchases
Given that you get a 25% bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer, you’re basically earning 7.5 and 2.5 points per dollar. After the 3 to 1 conversion rate, that works out to 2.5 airline miles per dollar spent on Starwood and Marriott purchases and .83 miles per dollar for all other purchases.
Other Perks of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
The Starwood credit card comes with a few other great perks, including:
- Free night award on your card anniversary
- Complimentary Silver elite status
- Gold status after spending $30,000 in a year
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
As a card member, you’ll receive instant Silver elite status. And you can earn Gold status if you spend $30,000 on the card in a year. (Note that starting January 1, 2019, that minimum spend goes up to $35,000.)
Cardholders also receive free premium internet access while staying at participating SPG hotels, in addition to regular American Express benefits, such as free Boingo Hotspot WiFi and more.
The card has a $0 first-year annual fee, but charges $95 after that. While this card may not be a keeper for everyone, it’s a no brainer during the first year.
How to Earn 89,000 Alaska Airlines Miles in 3 Months
If you plan it right, you should be able to get 89,000 Alaska Airlines miles within three months. First and most importantly, you should have a good credit score (720+). If you don’t know your credit score, check it using an app like Credit Karma. Once you know your score, here are the next steps:
First month: Apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest card and spend $3,000 in first month. This will give you 81,000 points (75,000 bonus plus 6,000 points for what you spent).
Second month: Apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card. Make sure you are actually getting this card and not the Platinum Plus. Spend $1,000 during this month and get a total of 31,000 Alaska miles.
Third month: Apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card. Spend $1,000 and get another 31,000 miles.
Transfer the 81,000 points from your SPG card to the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plus program at a 3 to 1 ratio. You’ll receive a 15,000-point bonus for the first 60,000 points you transfer, giving you a total of 27,000 Alaska miles.
If everything is done right, you should have 89,000 Alaska Airline miles to spend on your next vacation. As always, make sure you take good care of your credit and keep track of the cards in the process.
Why Alaska Airlines Miles Are Awesome
Alaska Airlines miles are valuable for everything from short-haul economy flights to long-haul first-class travel. If you use their award zones right, you can get flights for as little as 5,000 miles. The best part is that Alaska offers free stopovers on one-way award tickets.
For example, you could fly from Anchorage to Fairbanks, spend a weekend there, and continue up to Barrow for merely 7,500 miles plus $6 for one way. That same tickets costs over $250 in cash.
How Much Are Alaska Airlines Miles Worth?
Alaska’s miles are worth, on average, 1.6 cents per mile for domestic travel. For top international business and first class redemptions, you’ll usually get over five cents per mile.
If you think of each mile as a cashback value, it’s your choice how much your rewards will be worth. If you’re redeeming for economy, you’re earning a whole lot less than the potential five cents per point that you’ll get when redeeming for business or first class!
What Is CPM and How Is It Calculated?
Cents Per Mile (CPM) is a way to measure the value of miles. It tells you how many cents you get for each mile you redeem by dividing the cash price of the airline ticket (minus taxes and fees charged for an award ticket) by the number of miles the award flight costs. This is a somewhat subjective calculation because the price of the flight in both cash and miles fluctuates by season and availability.
Of course, some destinations can get you higher CPMs. If you manage to find Qantas awards to Sydney, you’ll be looking at a 10+ CPM. While Qantas tends to be stingy about releasing premium-cabin award space, you can, in theory, book a one-way business class flight from the U.S. to Australia for just 55,000 miles, or 70,000 miles in first class.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Partners
Since Alaska isn’t part of an alliance, they have a unique array of partners they’ve gathered over the years. You can redeem miles on almost all their partners, but you cannot mix them on the same itinerary. The solution? Just book two one-ways. It’s the same price as a roundtrip!
Alaska Airlines Partners With the Following Airlines:
Aer Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Condor, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Finnair, Hainan Airlines, Icelandair, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, LATAM Airlines, PenAir, Qantas, Ravn Alaska and Singapore Airlines.
How Far Can Alaska Miles Get You?
Given that they have partners everywhere in the world, your miles can take you anywhere! As of February 2018, Alaska Airlines has hubs in the following cities:
- Seattle, Washington
- Portland, Oregon
- San Francisco, California
- Los Angeles, California
- Anchorage, Alaska
Don’t live on the West Coast? With their partners, you can fly from just about anywhere to just about anywhere. It costs the same to fly with Japan Airlines from New York to Delhi as it costs to fly from Los Angeles. You can also fly American, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Korean Air or Hainan to Asia.
Meanwhile, you can catch American, British Airways, Icelandair or Condor to Europe (not the most exciting selection of airlines to this continent, I’ll admit). To Africa or the Middle East, Emirates and Cathay Pacific are your options. And to Oceania, you can take Qantas or American. Lastly, you can fly American or LATAM to South America.
Mileage Plan Program Perks:
- Low taxes and fees
- One-way awards allowed
- One free stopover or open jaw per international one-way ticket
- Free changes and cancellations up to 60 days before your departure
- Fee cancellation within 24 hours of ticketing
- One free itinerary change within 72 hours of ticketing
- Option to buy miles at a discounted rate anytime you book a ticket
- Club 49 for Alaska state residents offers members two checked bags and two annual one-way fare discounts of 30 percent
- No close-in booking fee, so you can book the day of your flight with no charge
- Expired miles can be reinstated within one year of expiration for a $75 fee
Good To Know
- You cannot search for award space online for some of Alaska’s partners, such as Cathay Pacific. To find award space, call Alaska reservations or use British Airways’ award booking tool to find available seat and then call Alaska to book.
- No connections of longer than four hours are allowed on domestic tickets. They will be coded as stopovers.
- You cannot mix partners on award tickets.
- There is a $15 phone service fee.
- There are no holds allowed on award tickets.
- You cannot book American AAdvantage AAnytime awards with Alaska miles.
Alaska Airlines has the best loyalty program in the U.S. Through credit card sign-up bonuses, you can easily rack up 95,000 miles in just three months. That’s just 5,000 miles short of a round-trip ticket to Asia in some of the world’s best business class products. Luckily, you can just purchase the remaining 5,000 points on sale, and you’re good to go.