Through May 25, 2014, 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 35,000 – 40,000 miles: get a 35% Bonus
You can purchase of up 40,000 miles in one transaction, so if you purchase the maximum allowed 40,000 miles you’d get a 35% bonus, for a grand total of 54,000 Mileage Plan miles. At a cost of $1,182.50 including tax, that comes out to ~2.19 cents per mile.
Just to compare this promotion to others they’ve offered, here are the most recent ones they’ve run:
- In March of 2014 they offered up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of miles
- In December of 2013 they offered up to a 35% bonus on the purchase of miles
- In September of 2013 they offered up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of miles
So generally speaking the 40% bonus promotion is as good as it gets, so this isn’t quite as good as that.
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 of miles as often as you’d like.
There are only two restrictions:
- Purchases are processed by points.com, and they don’t let you use the same credit card for more than four mileage purchases per 30 day period
- Alaska is now limiting the sale of Mileage Plan miles to those not residing in North America — the credit card you use must have a North America billing address
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 made their miles even more valuable last 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. I wrote a post in March highlighting what I consider to be the best uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
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) and Dubai to Bangkok. Purchasing enough miles for something like that for ~$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.
(Tip of the hat to Gary)