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Towards the middle of April, Alaska’s Mileage Plan program announced a sale in which it was offering targeted members the chance to buy miles with a 60% bonus. That sale saw the airline selling its miles at the cheapest rate we’ve seen and, three weeks after that sale ended, Alaska brought back the same offer. That deal was supposed to end yesterday but, for reasons best known to the airline, the offer has been extended through tomorrow, 30 June. It’s still a targeted sale, but if you missed out last time you may have better luck this time around.
The Sale Structure
From what I have seen, it looks as if Mileage Plan members are being targeted for bonuses of between 40% and 60% in this sale (click to see what you’ve been targeted for) so, if you’ve been fortunate enough to be targeted for the 60% bonus, this is what your sale probably looks like:
- Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles & get a 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles & get a 40% bonus
- Buy 40,000 – 100,000 miles & get a 60% bonus
The cost of Alaska miles doesn’t vary within each band.
The Headline T&Cs
- Transactions must be completed by 11:59 PM PST June 30, 2020 to be eligible for bonus miles.
- Miles are purchased from Points.com Inc. for a cost of $27.50 per 1,000 miles, plus 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 up to 60,000 miles, and in increments of 5,000 miles up to a maximum of 100,000 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.
Full terms and conditions can be found on the promotion page
Whether you buy 40,000 or 100,000 miles you’ll be buying Alaska miles at the cheapest rate going…and here’s what that looks like:
160,000 miles at $2,750 comes to ~1.72 cents/mile.
Here’s how much Alaska miles will cost if you decide to purchase less than 40,000 miles:
- Buy 10,000 – 19,000 Mileage Plan miles at a cost of ~2.29 cents/mile
- Buy 20,000 – 39,000 Mileage Plan miles at a cost of ~1.96 cents/mile
Let’s Get This Out Of The Way…
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.
Also, following the news that Alsaka is joining oneworld and getting very friendly with American Airlines, it’s widely believed that the Mileage Plan program and its award charts are ripe for a devaluation. That devaluation may not be imminent but it’s probably not all that far off either.
Having said all of that I have no time for people who make ridiculous, blanket statements like “no one should be buying miles” or “no one should be booking travel now” or “miles are a bad deal at all prices right now”.
That’s nonsense, and if your thinking is as one dimensional as that please go elsewhere as you’re not going to like what follows.
The fact is this: If you have been targeted for the 60% bonus and you can find awards that you can book right now (for travel well into the future) this can be a fantastic opportunity to book a truly amazing trip.
Where Can Alaska Miles Take You?
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…but that’s still pretty good.
So, where can Mileage Plan members use all the miles they can buy?
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
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:
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.
As usual, I’ll point out that even though I included American Airlines on the list of Alaska Mileage Plan partners and although technically, it can be a very good option on routes like Europe to Hawaii (115,000 miles for roundtrip Business Class) this isn’t a partnership you should rely on – American Airlines premium cabin award availability is a real issue.
American Airlines Business Class saver awards are so scarce nowadays that I can’t justify including them in the examples above. I suspect that most people will struggle to find any saver award availability unless they’re very flexible with dates and also very lucky.
Still, all of the redemptions I’ve listed above are pretty good and, at ~1.72 cents/mile, some of them are nothing short of fantastic.
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 at 1.72 cents each:
Business Class Award Costs (Roundtrip)
- Cathay Pacific: USA – Asia = $1,720
- Cathay Pacific: Europe – Asia = $1,462
- Korean Air: USA – Asia = $1,806 – $2,064
- LATAM: USA – South America = $1,548
- Qantas: USA – Australia = $1,892
The Cathay Pacific fares are incredible (especially the USA – 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 – it’s always worth calling up to check availability before buying miles for an award you’ve found online.
First Class Award Costs (Roundtrip)
- Cathay Pacific: USA to Asia = $2,408
- Cathay Pacific: Europe to Asia = $2,064
- JAL: USA to Asia from $2,408
- Qantas: USA to Australia = $2,408
Once again the pick of the crop are the Cathay Pacific awards (because they should be the easiest to find) but if you can find availability on Qantas to/from Australia that would be a very special experience.
Alaska Airlines 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 or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card) so what this means is that this is a good opportunity to use a credit card on which you’re working towards a welcome bonus (like the current offer on the World of Hyatt Card).
If you’re someone who prefers to earn cash back over miles and points, the Citi Double Cash credit card (2% cash back) is a strong choice to use.
This is the best price at which we have ever seen Alaska Airlines offer on its miles so this is the sale in which to buy miles if you think they can be of use in the very near future – I’ll be surprised if we see the airline return with a better offer than this.
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 if you buy miles and use them within days of the purchase.