Through December 20, 2013, Alaska is offering up to a 35% bonus on the purchase of Mileage Plan miles. The bonuses are tiered, meaning the more miles you buy, the bigger the bonus you get, as follows:
- Buy 5,000 – 19,000 miles: get a 20% Bonus
- Buy 20,000 – 34,000 miles: get a 30% Bonus
- Buy 35000 – 40,000 miles: get a 35% Bonus
The standard rate to purchase Alaska Mileage Plan miles is 2.75 cents each, plus a 7.5% tax recovery fee. That means if you max out the promotion you can purchase 54,000 Mileage Plan miles for $1,182.50, which is a cost of ~2.19 cents per mile.
For what it’s worth, Alaska ran a slightly better version of the promotion in September, offering up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of miles.
But this deal can still be totally worthwhile. What’s cool about Alaska is that they don’t limit the number of miles you can purchase per account per calendar year or per promotion, so you can more or less purchase as many miles as you’d like. They cap each transaction at 40,000 miles, but you can purchase up to that number as often as you’d like. The only restriction is with points.com, which doesn’t let you use the same credit card for more than four mileage purchases per 30 day period.
Typically when miles are for sale at a rate of over two cents each I’d give it a pass, but Alaska is an exception under certain circumstances, in my opinion.
Alaska actually made their miles even more valuable this year by adding Emirates as a redemption partner, and by not only allowing one-way redemptions at half the cost of a roundtrip, but also allowing a stopover on a one-way award, making them one of the only airlines with such a generous policy.
For example, you can redeem 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for one-way travel in Cathay Pacific first class from the US to Africa, India, the Middle East, and all of Asia. That means you could fly something like San Francisco > Hong Kong > Johannesburg in first class, with a stopover in Hong Kong for as long as you’d like. Being able to purchase enough miles to book that for ~$1,500 is a bargain, in my opinion.
Similarly, using their partner Emirates, you can redeem 100,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for one-way travel in Emirates first class from the US to Europe, Asia, or Africa. Again, you could have a stopover in Dubai for as long as you’d like. That means you can potentially book two Emirates A380 first class flights for that price, like Los Angeles to Dubai (the longest A380 flight in the world when it launches next month) and Dubai to Bangkok. Purchasing enough miles for something like that for just $2,200 is also a bargain.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that since mileage purchases are processed through points.com, the purchase of miles wouldn’t count as airfare for the purposes of credit card spend.
While this promotion probably isn’t for everyone, if you’re someone that doesn’t have huge mileage balances and is looking for a great way to purchase discounted premium cabin tickets, this promotion is pretty tough to beat. That’s especially true thanks to the ability to purchase an unlimited number of miles through the promotion. Cathay Pacific and Emirates are among my favorite airlines in the world, and first class on them doesn’t get much cheaper than through this promotion.