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Last year we saw Alaska Airlines breaking with past conventions and running a variety of mileage sales that offered better bonuses than we had ever seen before. In the middle of January, and for its first sale of 2021, Alaska Airlines returned with another mileage sale that offered one of the best bonuses we’ve ever seen. That sale will end in 2 days’ time.
- Buy 1,000 – 2,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles and get no bonus
- Buy 3,000 – 39,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles and get a 40% bonus
- Buy 40,000 – 100,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles and get a 60% bonus
Headline Terms & Conditions
- Transactions must be completed between 6:00 AM PST January 20, 2021 and 11:59 PM PST February 14, 2021 (SUNDAY) 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.
- Offer is subject to change and all terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan Program apply.
Because Alaska Airlines 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 40,000 or 100,000 miles.
Here’s what a 40,000 miles purchase looks like:
And here’s what a 100,000 miles purchase would look like:
In both cases, the cost/mile comes to ~1.85 cents.
To Buy Or Not To Buy?
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 hoarding miles that you don’t plan to use short-term (my golden rule applies).
Now that that’s out of the way…
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 adding a maximum of 160,000 miles to your account…which isn’t too bad.
Alaska’s membership on the oneworld alliance is now on the horizon so flyers will soon have a wider-than-before variety of airlines with which Alaska Miles can be redeemed but, for now, it’s best to stick to considering the partners that the airline already has.
Here are a few of those partners:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Emirates (only for flights to/from the US)
- Fiji Airways
- Korean Air
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
- Korean Air: USA to Asia = 105,000 – 120,000 miles/$1,943 – $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 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 or the offer that the two Chase Freedom cards are currently offering).
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. Also, make sure you check (carefully!) what entry restrictions are in place for any countries you’re planning to visit. While most counties may only require a pre-departure COVID test by later this year, there are a lot of countries that currently have travel bans in place so don’t make any bookings without checking if you can actually fly.
Lastly, don’t forget that you only have a couple of days left to make the most of this sale.