Alaska Airlines is currently offering an increased sign-up bonus of 30,000 Mileage Plan miles after the first purchase on the Alaska Airlines Visa. The annual fee on the card is $75, which isn’t waived for the first year. So why am I suggesting you sign-up for a credit card with a 30,000 mile sign-up bonus and an annual fee the first year? Three reasons:
The card is churnable
As I talked about in this post, anecdotal evidence suggests that the Alaska Airlines Visa is churnable. That means you can earn the sign-up bonus on the card multiple times. In other words, signing up for the card now isn’t preventing you from getting it in the future with a better bonus.
Alaska Airlines miles are valuable in many situations
Alaska Airlines has a ton of partners, and while there are some frustrating rules with their award tickets (like not being able to mix partner airlines), there are also some gems. One of the best value award redemptions has to be traveling from the US to South Africa via Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific first class for just 140,000 Mileage Plan miles per person. That’s four 14+ hour first class flights at an amazingly low price, and you can even have a free stopover in Hong Kong.
The card comes with a $99 companion fare
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of this. The credit card comes with a certificate every year good for a $99 companion ticket on Alaska. There are virtually no restrictions. One of the best values of the certificate is booking first class on Alaska to Hawaii, and then paying $99 for the second passenger. Fares to Hawaii are often around $1,350 all-in for first class, so for under $1,500 you’re looking at two first class tickets to Hawaii, which breaks down to $750 per passenger.
I know many people use miles for travel to Hawaii, and typically pay 70,000-80,000 miles per person for first class. Assuming you’re redeeming your miles for a route on which you could use an Alaska companion certificate, I don’t think you’re getting an especially good value, since you’re basically cashing in your miles at around a cent each. And that doesn’t even factor in that both passengers can earn miles when using a companion certificate.
(Tip of the hat to Gary)