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In the past 12 months, we’ve seen Alaska Airlines offer up a variety of mileage sales and on at least two occasions it has offered the very best deals we have ever seen that airline offer. Now the airline is back with a sale that runs through the middle of May and it’s a sale that sees Mileage Plan members being targeted for mystery bonuses.
I have been targeted for a 60% bonus on purchases of 40,000+ miles (click here to see your mystery offer). This is what my full offer looks like:
- Buy 1,000 – 2,000 miles – get no bonus
- Buy 3,000 – 39,000 miles – get a 40% bonus
- Buy 40,000 – 100,000 miles – get a 60% bonus
Your mystery offer may differ.
- Transactions must be completed by 11:59 PM PST on 22 May 2021 to be eligible for bonus miles.
- GST/HST will be added for Canadian residents and QST for Quebec residents.
- Miles are non-refundable and do not count toward MVP and MVP/Gold status.
- You may purchase and gift Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles in increments of 1,000 miles up to 60,000 miles, and in increments of 5,000 miles up to a maximum of 100,000 miles per transaction.
- MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan member (Elite Member) accounts have no annual limit on the number of miles which may be purchased or gifted through Points.com.
- If you are not an Elite Member, your account may only be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles acquired through Points.com in a calendar year, whether purchased by you or gifted to you.
- Offer is subject to change and all terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan Program apply.
Because Alaska doesn’t vary the cost/mile within each of its pricing bands, Mileage Plan members will be paying the lowest cost per mile available in this sale whether they buy 30,000 or 100,000 miles.
Here’s what a 40,000 miles purchase looks like…
…and here’s what a 100,000 miles purchase looks like:
In both cases, a Mileage Plan member would be buying miles at ~1.85 cents each.
Deal or No Deal?
Historically, we would be jumping for joy at the thought of a 60% bonus offer from Alaska Mileage Plan as a bonus of 50% was the best offer that we had seen prior to 2020. The pandemic, however, changed all of that, and the best offer ever seen is now a bonus of 70%. That doesn’t mean that a 60% bonus is bad (we may never see another 70% bonus now that travel is starting to pick up), but it’s always useful to have a bit of context when considering a miles or points sale.
If you’re happy to travel, can find a destination without onerous entry requirements, and can find awards that work for you, there’s still value to be had here.
Before I go any further, here’s the usual disclaimer: If you have no immediate use for Alaska Miles you shouldn’t be taking part in this sale. It’s a bad idea to stockpile miles at the best of times so a full-blown travel crisis isn’t a great time to be stocking up on miles you don’t plan to use short-term (my golden rule applies).
One of the biggest positives of the Alaska Mileage Plan program is that the airline doesn’t impose a limit on how many miles you can purchase in a single promotion or in a calendar year if you hold status. Technically status holders can keep buying miles until they run out of money. If you don’t have Alaska Mileage Plan status you’ll have to make do with buying a maximum of 160,000 miles in this sale…which isn’t too bad.
This is the first Mileage Plan mileage sale that we’ve seen since Alaska Airlines joined the oneworld alliance on 31 March but, for the time being, redemptions on airlines like Qatar Airways are still not available (they’re coming later this summer). That means that the best redemption options remain the ones that have been around for some time.
You can access the Mileage Plan award charts via this link if you want to check the prices of the awards you’re interested in but, to save you some time, here are a few examples of premium cabin roundtrip awards that you can book with Alaska miles and the cost of those awards based on a purchase price of 1.85 cents/mile:
Business Class Awards
- Cathay Pacific: USA to Asia = 100,000 miles/$1,850
- Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = 85,000 miles/$1,573
- Emirates: USA to the Middle East = 165,000 miles/$3,053
- Hainan: USA – Asia = 100,000 miles/$1,850
- Korean Air: USA to Asia = 105,000 – 120,000 miles/$1,942 – $2,220
- LATAM: USA to South America = 90,000 miles/$1,665
First Class Awards
- Cathay Pacific/JAL: USA to Asia = 140,000 miles/$2,590
- Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = 120,000 miles/$2,220
While all of the redemptions I’ve listed above are pretty good some of them are nothing short of fantastic.
The Business Class Cathay Pacific fares are excellent (especially the Europe – Asia awards), but be aware that Alaska doesn’t always have access to all the award seats that you may see when searching on sites like BA.com, so it’s always worth calling up to check availability before buying miles for an award you’ve found online.
Use The Right Credit Card
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan mileage sales are processed by Points.com so that eliminates the scope to earn a travel/flight/airline bonus by using a credit card that offers bonus points for shopping in one of those categories (e.g. the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card). With that option closed off, this makes this sale a good opportunity to use a credit card on which you’re working towards a strong welcome bonus (like the current offer on the Amex Gold Card).
If you’re not working towards a card’s welcome bonus, the Citi Double Cash credit card which offers 2% cash back on all purchases would be one of the better options to use.
The key to doing well out of this sale is this: Do your research, find awards that work for you, and only then buy the points you need – it’s hard to get burned when you buy miles and use them within days of the purchase.