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Alaska Airlines is back with a new mileage sale and just as we saw back in March, this will be another short sale from the airline (this may be a new trend). This latest sale sees the airline carry on offering what was, pre-pandemic, its best-ever deal – a 50% bonus – and with more and more people now apparently comfortable with traveling once again, this may end up being the best deals we see going forward.
The Headline T&Cs
- Transactions must be completed between 6:00 AM PST June 14, 2021 and 11:59 PM PST June 25, 2021 to be eligible for bonus miles..
- Miles are purchased from Points.com Inc. for a cost of $27.50 per 1,000 miles, plus a 7.5% Federal Excise Tax*, GST/HST 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.
- Bonus miles do not count toward the maximum total of 150,000 miles (this appears to be a new addition to the terms and conditions).
- Offer is subject to change and all terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan Program apply.
*Points.com Inc. is collecting Federal Excise Tax on behalf of Alaska Airlines Inc.
Alaska Airlines Inc. has the obligation to collect Federal Excise Tax and remit the tax to the appropriate government agency.
There are just three tiers in this latest sale:
- Buy 1,000 – 2,000 Mileage Plan miles and get no bonus
- Buy 3,000 – 29,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 40% bonus
- Buy 30,000 – 100,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 50% bonus
Because Mileage Plan doesn’t vary the price of miles within each bonus band, the cost per mile remains the same whether you buy 30,000 miles…
…or 100,000 miles:
In both instances, miles cost ~1.97 cents.
Let’s Get This Out Of The Way
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).
Deal or No Deal?
Historically, we would be jumping for joy at the thought of a 50% bonus offer from Alaska Mileage Plan as a bonus of this magnitude 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% and we saw a 60% bonus offered back in April. None of this means that that a 50% bonus is bad (we may never see another 60-70% 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.
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 150,000 miles pre-bonus (225,000 miles post bonus) and, if I’m not mistaken, that’s the highest number of points a non-elite has ever been able to buy from Alsaka Airlines (I don’t recall Alaska ever saying that bonus miles don’t count towards the 150k yearly maximum before).
Even though this is the second Mileage Plan mileage sale that we’ve seen since Alaska Airlines joined the oneworld alliance on 31 March, 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 1.97 cents/mile:
Business Class Award Costs
- Cathay Pacific/JAL: USA – Asia = $1,970
- Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = $1,675
- Korean Air: USA – Asia = $2,069 – $2,364
- LATAM: USA – South America = $1,773
- Qantas: USA – Australia = $2,167
The Cathay Pacific fares are very good indeed (especially the Europe – Asia award), 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.
First Class Awards
Once again the pick of the crop are the Cathay Pacific awards which, excluding taxes and fees, would cost:
Cathay Pacific/JAL: USA – Asia = $2,758
Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = $2,364
Those are amazing fares for a truly excellent First Class product.
Although Qantas First Class to Australia for $2,758 (+ taxes and fees) looks good, there’s a definite lack of award availability (and Australia is closed right now) so I wouldn’t buy miles unless I knew there was an award available for late this year or early next year and that I could book right away.
Note: I haven’t bothered quoting the number of miles needed for travel on American Airlines because American Airlines is terrible at opening up saver award space its routes and I don’t want to give the impression that you can by Alaska Miles and book American Airlines awards with ease.
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. 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 amazing offer on the Chase Sapphire Prefered 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.