The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card is one of the best credit cards for earning Alaska miles. Even if you don’t live on the West Coast, Alaska Airlines miles are valuable because they can be used to book flights on oneworld partner airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas and American. This card also includes an annual companion fare, saving you hundreds of dollars each year on airfare.
Alaska Airlines miles have long been among the most valuable airline miles in TPG’s monthly ratings, thanks to Alaska’s extensive partner network and membership in the oneworld alliance.
The Alaska Airlines mileage program has very loose rules when it comes to award travel bookings: You can add free stopovers to most awards, even one-way awards. I used it to book business class flights on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, and added stops in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
While there are many sweet spots in Alaska Airlines’ plans, those miles are hard to come by. There is currently only one major transferable points program (Marriott) that works with Alaska Airlines.
Applying for the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card and Alaska Visa Signature Card are your main options for earning tons of Alaska miles easily. So let’s take a deep dive into whether the Visa Signature Card is right for you.
Who should get an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card?
Obviously, if you fly Alaska Airlines regularly, this card is a great option. The card has an annual fee of $75 and offers elite-like benefits, but without the elite status of Alaska Airlines. Cardmembers can get one free checked bag for themselves and up to six other passengers on the same booking when traveling in Alaska, saving $30 per person on one-way checked bags. Plus, get Alaska-related discounts, including 20% off Alaska Airlines in-flight purchases.
The card’s companion fare is also worth considering if you’re traveling to Alaska with a friend or family member on a paid fare at least once a year (more on that later).
Even if you rarely or never fly to Alaska, remember that you are not limited to Alaska Airlines’ route network. Alaska miles are also great for a variety of partners.
$900 worth of sign-up bonus miles
Currently, Alaska Airlines’ Visa Signature Card offers 50,000 bonus miles plus Alaska Famous Companion fares starting at $121 (fare $99 plus tax starts at $22) after you spend $2,000 or more. TPG values 50,000 Alaska miles at $900 for $900, making it one of the best welcome offers in recent memory.
Card Benefits and Privileges
Probably the most lucrative ongoing benefit of the card is the annual companion rate, which you get every year on your account anniversary.
Companion fares are only available for coach travel, but you are eligible for upgrades if you have Alaska Elite status. TPG’s Summer Hull used status matching to earn Alaska MVP Gold 75k status, then used some of the four one-way upgrades that came with that status to upgrade flights to Hawaii that had the accompanying tariffs booked.
For more information on companion fares and how to get the most out of it, see our tips on maximizing Alaska Airlines visa companion fares. Keep in mind that round-trip flights usually offer better value for this offer, and you must pay for the ticket with an Alaska Airlines visa.
As mentioned earlier, the card also offers the cardholder and up to six other travelers on the same booking a free piece of checked luggage. There are no foreign transaction fees, so you can use the card anywhere in the world at no additional cost.
How to Earn Alaska Miles
The Alaska Airlines Visa Card earns 3 miles per dollar on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
If you frequently fly Alaska Airlines for business or leisure and want to top up your mileage program points, this card is the obvious choice for buying an airline. When you factor in TPG’s high valuation of Alaska Airlines, at 1.8 cents per plane, that’s a yield of 5.4%.
You should probably use a different travel credit card to shop outside of Alaska because you can do better than the card’s 1 mile per dollar rate. However, if you really want to earn Alaska miles on partner award flights, this advice may not apply because Alaska miles are valuable and hard to earn without flying to Alaska.
How to Redeem Alaska Miles
There are many ways to split 50,000 award miles. Short-haul Alaska incentives (such as Seattle to San Francisco) start at 5,000 Alaska miles each way. Many long-haul flights, such as from Seattle to New York City, have 12,500 miles in economy class. If you want first class, long-haul domestic flights typically take 40,000 miles, but on shorter flights you can start with 15,000 miles each way. If you want to travel to Hawaii, these awards start at 15,000 miles one way in economy and 40,000 miles one way in first class.
Partners in Alaska also cover your travel to most of the world. These partners include British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and more. Redeeming through Alaska will not necessarily give you the lowest mileage booking rate of all these partners (depending on the route). However, with a one-way stopover on an Alaska One-Way Award Ticket, you can plan some great itineraries.
Some of our favorite ways to maximize your redemption on Alaska Airlines are to book Cathay Pacific First Class from the US to Asia 70,000 miles easy, Japan Airlines First Class from the US to Asia 70,000 miles and Fiji Airways from the US. Just fly 55,000 miles to Fiji in business class.
You can even fly to Australia with Fiji Airways and have a free stopover in Fiji, the same 55,000 business class miles.
But you don’t have to circle the globe to maximize Alaska miles. It’s also a great deal to book awards with 5,000 Alaska miles each way in the U.S. and Canada.
Which cards compete with Alaska Airlines’ Visa Signature Card?
If you’re interested in booking a premium cabin award, it’s a good idea to accrue transferable award points as you won’t be locked into awards associated with a single loyalty program.
Flexible reward points like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One miles are easier to earn. Additionally, many of these cards offer larger sign-up bonuses or bonus rates for better earnings across different spending categories.
If you qualify for a business card (and there are plenty of ways to do it without owning a brick and mortar business), consider opening an Alaska Airlines Visa® business card instead. It offers a 70,000-mile sign-up bonus after you make at least $4,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening.
Whether you’re an Alaska fan or looking to diversify your points and mileage portfolio with valuable Alaska miles, Alaska Airlines Visa Signature is a great option. The card’s $75 annual fee pales in comparison to the benefits, thanks to the solid yield on Alaska Airlines purchases and the valuable annual companion ticket.
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