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Alaska MileagePlan has launched its first sale of 2020 and is offering members bonuses of up to 40% when they buy miles through 16 February 2020.
All the accounts I control have a maximum bonus of 40% showing and I haven’t seen, heard, or read of anyone seeing a different maximum bonus in their account so it’s probably safe to assume that this isn’t a targeted promotion (if anyone spots a different promotion please let me know in the comments).
The Alaska Mileage Sale
Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles and get a 20% bonus
Buy 20,000 – 29,000 miles and get a 30% bonus
Buy 30,000 – 60,000 miles and get a 40% bonus
The Terms & Conditions
- Transactions must be completed between 6:00 AM PST January 22, 2020 and 11:59 PM PST February 16, 2020 to be eligible for bonus miles.
- Miles are purchased from Points.com Inc. A 7.5% Federal Excise Tax*, and GST/HST for Canadian 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 to a maximum of 60,000 miles per transaction.
- Your Mileage Plan account may 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.
- MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan member accounts have no annual limit on the number of miles which may be purchased or gifted through Points.com.
- 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.
Also important to know: Alaska’s limit of 150,000 miles per year for customers who do not hold status with the airline includes any bonus points earned.
How Much Do These Alaska Miles Cost?
Because Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t play around with the cost of miles within each bonus band there are just four price points at which miles are being sold in this promotion.
To buy miles at the cheapest rate you’ll need to buy at least 30,000 miles and secure the 40% bonus.
Buying the maximum number of miles you can buy in a single transaction (60,000) would see you paying $1,809.23 for a net total of 84,000 miles…
…and this equates to a cost per mile of ~2.15 cents.
Interestingly, this is higher than the ~2.11 cents that each mile cost the last time Mileage Plan had a 40% bonus running – It would seem that the loyalty program has increased the base cost of its miles.
For the sake of completeness, here’s how much it would cost to buy miles in the lower bonus bands:
Buy 1,000 – 4,000 miles at ~3.25 cents/mile
Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles at ~2.59 cents/mile
Buy 20,000 – 29,000 miles at ~2.32 cents/mile
What Can You Do With Alaska Miles?
The best value uses of Alsaka Mileage Plan miles generally come through international bookings made on partner airlines (although miles can also come in useful if you’re looking to book flights between the mainland and Hawaii).
Here are a few examples of Alaska’s airline partners:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Emirates (only for flights to/from the US)
- Fiji Airways
- Korean Air
That’s a pretty good list and it’s why Alaska’s Mileage Plan program should feature in everyone’s miles/points portfolio.
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 some time, here are a few examples of premium cabin roundtrip awards that you can book with Alaska miles:
Business Class Awards
- Cathay Pacific: USA to Asia = 100,000 miles
- Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = 85,000 miles
- Korean Air: USA to Asia = 105,000 – 120,000 miles (depends on the country in Asia)
- LAN: USA to South America = 90,000 miles
- Qantas: USA to Australia = 110,000 miles
First Class Awards
- Cathay Pacific: USA to Asia = 140,000 miles
- Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = 120,000 miles
- JAL: USA to Asia from 140,000 miles
- Qantas: USA to Australia = 140,000 miles
Note: Taxes and surcharges will need to be factored in but, in most cases, they’re not significant.
Importantly, Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t charge fuel surcharges on award tickets and that’s part of what makes these redemptions very attractive indeed.
You may have noticed that although I listed American Airlines as an Alaska Mileage Plan partner I haven’t quoted the price for any of its awards…and there’s a good reason for that.
While booking American Airlines premium cabin awards is technically possible (and would be a very good option on routes like Europe to Hawaii ) award availability is so dire that it’s hard to suggest that Alaska miles would be useful in booking them – it doesn’t matter how many Alaska miles you have if you can’t find American Airlines awards to book!
Still, all of the redemptions I’ve listed above are pretty good and some of them can be nothing short of fantastic.
Is It Worth Buying Alaska Miles In This Promotion?
As I always say, it comes down to 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 :
Business Class Award Costs
- Cathay Pacific: USA to Asia = $2,150
- Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = $1,828
- Korean Air: USA to Asia = $2,258 – $2,580
- LAN: USA to South America = $1,935
- Qantas: USA to Australia = $2,365
First Class Awards
- Cathay Pacific: USA to Asia = $3,010
- Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = $2,580
- JAL: USA to Asia from $3,010
- Qantas: USA to Australia = $3,010
There are a number of very good deals here but the Cathay Pacific Business and First Class awards are particularly good value (especially the Europe – Asia awards).
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 and, even though American Airlines has now started showing Cathay Pacific award availability online, the results presented haven’t always been reliable so it’s always worth calling up to check availability before buying miles for an award you’ve found online.
I should also point out that although Qantas First Class to Australia for $3,010 (+ taxes and fees) looks fantastic, the awards are often very hard to find so I wouldn’t buy miles with a view to booking this award unless I knew for sure that there was an award available that I could book right away.
Alaska’s Mileage Plan program sells its miles through Points.com so there’s no 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, the refreshed Amex Green Card or the Platinum Card from American Express)
What this means is that this is a good opportunity to use a credit card on which you’re working towards a welcome bonus or to use a credit card that earns you more than a point/dollar in a valuable currency (e.g. the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express) or even a good cashback card (one that earns 2% or more).
With a 40% bonus on offer, this is the second-best sale that we generally see Alaska publish and the miles are being sold at a slightly higher rate than in similar promotions in the past…but it’s still a pretty good deal.
As always I don’t think you should be buying miles speculatively as you never know when a loyalty program will choose to alter the award charts or change the rules unfavorably, so stockpiling points is a truly bad idea.
Do your research, find awards that work for you, do the math and then buy the points you need – it’s hard for you to get burned that way.