Should You Buy Alaska Milage Plan Miles? (Bonuses Of Up To 50% Available)

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Alaska Mileage Plan has launched a new promotion which allows members to buy Mileage Plan miles with a bonus of up to 50%. This is a targeted promotion in that, although all Mileage Plan member will get a bonus if they buy miles, the size of the bonus will vary from member to member.

The highest bonus on offer is 50%…..

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…..but most people seem to have been offered the 40% bonus that both I and Joanna received.

You can check what bonus you’ve been targeted for via this link.

The Small Print

  • The promotion is paid through 1 July 2017
  • Mileage Plan accounts must have been open for at least 10 days in order to be eligible – if you don’t have a Mileage Plan account already you still have plenty of time to open one, wait 10 days, and then buy miles.
  • Although you can only purchase a maximum of 60,000 miles per transaction, Mileage Plan doesn’t impose any yearly limits so you can put through as many separate transactions as you like.
  • All purchases of Mileage Plan Miles are processed by so there are no credit card category bonuses to be had with this deal.
  • Miles must be purchased in increments of 1,000.

Right, now that that’s out of the way I’m going to focus on the offer Joanna & I received as that seems to be the most popular one out there:

Buy Alaska Miles With A Bonus Of Up To 40%

  • Buy 10,000 – 19,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 20% bonus
  • Buy 20,000 – 29,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 30% bonus
  • Buy 30,000 – 60,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 40% bonus

If I was to purchase the full 60,000 miles this is how the math would look:

a screenshot of a white and black list

I would get 84,000 miles at a cost of $1,773.75 which is equivalent to approximately 2.11 cents per mile.

As Mileage Plan doesn’t play around with the pricing within each band I could purchase any number of miles between 30,000 and 60,000 and I would get the same cost per mile.

Buy Alaska Miles With A Bonus Of Up To 50%

If you are one of the lucky few who were targeted for the 50% bonus this could be what your offer looks like (there are some subtle variations floating around but the basic premise is the same):

  • Buy 10,000-19,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 20% bonus
  • Buy 20,000-49,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 35% bonus
  • Buy 50,000-60,000 Mileage Plan miles and get a 50% bonus

Here a purchase of 60,000 miles with a 50% would net you 90,000 at a cost of $1,773.75 which is equivalent to approximately 1.97 cents per mile.

Where Can You Go With Alaska Mileage Plan Miles?

As I mentioned earlier, Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t impose a limit on how many miles you can purchase in a single promotion or in a calendar year….so you can actually buy as many miles as you need.

Practically what this means is that you could start out with a zero mileage balance, seek out the awards you’d like to book, and then buy all the miles you need to book them. You’d need to buy the miles in a series of transactions (max 60,000 at a time) but that’s the only constraint.

a plane flying in the sky

Alaska Airlines isn’t part of any global alliance but the airline does have a number of useful partners on which award flights can be booked.

Here are a few examples:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Emirates (only for flights to/from the US)
  • Korean Air
  • Qantas

That’s a pretty good list and it’s why Alaska Mileage Plan should feature in everyone’s miles/points portfolio….I’ve even written a post explaining why Europeans should be interested and Alaska Airlines doesn’t fly anywhere near Europe!

You can access the Mileage Plan award charts via this link if you want to check the prices of whatever awards you’re interested in but, to save you a little time, here are a few examples of  premium cabin round trip awards that you can book with Alaska miles:

Business Class Awards

  • American Airlines: USA to Europe = 100,000 miles
  • American Airlines: USA to South America = 60,000 – 100,000 miles (depends on the country in South America)
  • Cathay Pacific: USA to Asia = 100,000 miles
  • Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = 85,000 miles
  • Emirates: USA to the Middle East = 165,000 miles
  • Korean Air: USA to Asia = 105,000 – 120,000 miles (depends on the country in Asia)
  • Qantas: USA to Australia = 110,000 miles

the inside of an airplaneCathay Pacific Business Class cabin on the Airbus A350

First Class Awards

  • American Airlines: USA to Europe = 125,000 miles
  • American Airlines: USA to South America = 80,000 – 125,000 miles (depends on the country in South America)
  • Cathay Pacific: USA to Asia = 140,000 miles
  • Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = 120,000 miles
  • Qantas: USA to Australia = 140,000 miles

While all of those redemptions are pretty good (possibly with the exception of the Emirates awards which have got more expensive) there are also some fantastic deals to had too.

Qantas Award Travel

Is It Worth Buying Alaska Miles In This Promotion?

As I always say, it comes down to the math.

Here’s how much some of the awards I mentioned above would cost (excluding taxes & fees) if you were to buy all the miles you need in this promotion :

Note: 1st price is based on 1.97 cents/mile & 2nd price is based on 2.11 cents/mile

Business Class Award Costs

  • American Airlines: USA – Europe = $1,970/$2,110
  • Cathay Pacific: USA – Asia = $1,970/$2,110
  • Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = $1,675/$1,794
  • Emirates: USA – Middle East = $3,251/£3,482
  • Korean Air: USA – Asia = $2,069/$2,216 – $2,364/$2,532
  • Qantas: USA – Australia = $2,167/$2,321

The American Airlines fare may look tempting but award availability is pretty terrible on American nowadays so don’t let that sway your decision.

The Cathay Pacific fares are very good indeed (especially the Europe – Asia award). Cathay is a true premium airline and those are very good fares for their Business Class product – I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen Cathay’s Business Class at that price from Europe to Asia so I’d definitely buy Alaska miles to try that out.

a chair with a laptop and a glass of juice on itEmirates A380 Business Class – image courtesy of Luke Lai

The Emirates fare is absolutely terrible and definitely not worth it. I know there’s a lot of hype around the business class product on Emirates A380 but that’s still way too much to pay for an award.

First Class Awards

The pick for me are again the Cathay Pacific awards which, excluding taxes and fees, would cost:

Cathay Pacific: USA – Asia = $2,758/$2,954
Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = $2,364/$2,532

a seat in a planeCathay Pacific First Class

Those are amazing fares for a truly excellent First Class product and well worth buying miles for (I reviewed Cathay’s First Class product between Zurich and Hong Kong late last year and I loved it).

As for the rest…..

I can’t imagine bringing myself to pay for American’s First Class product and, although Qantas First Class to Australia for $2,758 (+ taxes and fees) looks good, there’s a definite lack of award availability so I wouldn’t buy miles unless I knew there was an award available that I could book right away.

Bottom Line

Clearly the bonus you’ve been targeted for will go a long way to determining just how good of a deal this for you but, whether you’ve been targeted for a 40% or 50% bonus, there are good deals out there for everyone….you just have to look for them.

I have most of my travel booked up for this year so I won’t be buying miles in this promotion…but I almost certainly will be buying some in time to make some bookings for 2018. Joanna has never tried Cathay First Class and I’D love to find some award availability to Australia so those will be the things I’ll be looking for.

As always I don’t suggest you buy miles speculatively as you never know when a loyalty program will choose to alter the award charts or change the rules unfavourably.

Don’t forget to check what bonus you’ve been targeted for via this link (have your Mileage Plan number to hand)