Through March 15, Alaska is offering up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of Mileage Plan miles. Through this promotion you can purchase up to 40,000 miles in one transaction, though there’s no limit to the number of transactions you can make per Mileage Plan account. If you purchase miles in the correct increments you end up being able to purchase miles for ~2.11 cents each.
While that might not sound amazing, Mileage Plan miles are one of the most valuable mileage currencies out there, given that they allow stopovers on one-way awards, and have very lucrative partnerships with Cathay Pacific and Emirates.
Now, not surprisingly a lot of foreigners take advantage of this promotion as a cheap way of generating miles. After all, they don’t have the massive credit card sign-up bonuses that we do here in the US.
My friends at Australian Frequent Flyer even have a forum dedicated to cheap international airfare, much of which revolves around purchasing miles during promotions.
They’ve been reporting that as of March 1, the purchase of Mileage Plan miles seems to be rejected for those using non-US/Canadian/Mexican credit cards.
Now, I think a loyalty program has a right to limit promotions to whomever they’d like, but what’s unfortunate about this is that it isn’t stated anywhere in the terms & conditions. Instead those with foreign credit cards are able to complete the purchase, and then the following day receive emails informing them that their purchase was rejected.
In that thread, davetonio reports having the following conversation with an Alaska agent:
Spoke to a ‘senior analyst’ after getting transferred from customer support – he advised that due to ‘fraud’ only US, Canada & Mexico cc holders same as wonky1’s convo. However after further discussion he also said that many people ‘internationally’ were using the program not how it was intended (as a loyalty program for frequent AS flyers) and AS wanted to stop this. He also mentioned that many ‘points brokers’ were abusing the system getting cheap partner travel instead of purchasing tickets.
Like, I said, Alaska has every right to restrict the promotion however they’d like, though I’d hardly call a mileage sale a reward for loyalty.
Perhaps on average non-US members were making faster and more costly redemptions than US-based members, given that they’re probably usually purchasing miles with a specific use in mind and aren’t looking to hoard them.
I really don’t like the restriction, but if they’re going to have it I hope they’ll at least be proactive instead of reactive about enforcing it.