6 Reasons Buying Alaska Miles Is A Good Deal

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As Tiffany first wrote about in late August, Alaska is offering up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of Mileage Plan miles through October 6, 2015.

Alaska-Fall-40

The bonuses are tiered, meaning the more miles you buy, the bigger the bonus you get, as follows:

  • Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles: get a 20% Bonus
  • Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles: get a 30% Bonus
  • Buy 40,000 miles: get a 40% bonus

You can purchase up to 40,000 miles in one transaction, so if you purchase the maximum allowed 40,000 miles you’d get a 40% bonus, for a grand total of 56,000 Mileage Plan miles.

At a cost of $1,182.50 including tax, that comes out to ~2.11 cents per mile (which is a good price).

Do keep in mind that mileage purchases are processed by points.com, so wouldn’t count as airfare for the purposes of credit card spend. Therefore you’ll want to use a credit card which maximizes your return on everyday spend, like the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express.

You have less than two weeks left to take advantage of this offer, so I figured I’d share six reasons why you should consider buying Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles.

Stopovers on one-way awards

This is something which makes Mileage Plan really unique, as Alaska allows stopovers even on one-way award tickets.

Flying from New York to Hong Kong to Singapore? You can stop in Hong Kong.

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Flying from Dallas to Dubai to Hong Kong? You can stop in Dubai.

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Flying from Los Angeles to Fiji to Auckland? You can stop in Fiji.

I can’t think of another lucrative frequent flyer program which offers complimentary stopovers on one-way awards booked on partner airlines.

Keep in mind this also means that if you’re flying roundtrip and booking as two one-ways, you can actually do two stopovers — one in each direction.

Reasonable change & cancellation policies

It’s amazing how much some airlines charge in change and cancellation fees nowadays. Want to make a minor change to a Delta SkyMiles award ticket 10 months out? It’ll cost you $150 per person.

Want to cancel the United MileagePlus award you booked for your family of four to Europe, and have the miles redeposited? That’ll cost you $200 per person, or $800 total.

Perhaps aside from Korean Air SkyPass (which doesn’t charge any change or cancellation fees on awards, though has a bunch of ridiculous rules), Alaska has the most reasonable change & cancellation fees.

With Alaska, there are no fees if you cancel or change your award at least 60 days before departure. So you can make as many changes as you want prior to the 60 day mark, and can even redeposit the miles for free. Changes within 60 days of departure will trigger a $125 change or mileage redeposit fee, though.

No limit to how many miles you can buy

A lot of loyalty programs will sell miles, though most of them will cap how many you can buy per account per calendar year. Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t — you can buy as many miles as you want. The major restrictions are simply:

  • You can purchase a maximum of 40,000 miles per transaction, though can make as many transactions as you’d like
  • You can use the same credit card for at most four points.com transactions per 30 day period (they process Alaska mileage purchases)

But other than that you can buy basically as many miles as you’d like. That’s fantastic because buying miles can be a great way to basically get premium cabin tickets at a discount. So when you can buy enough miles for the entire family at once, that’s pretty awesome.

AS-Miles-Dr-Evil

Unique airline partners

Alaska doesn’t belong to any of the “big three” alliances, though they partner with some airlines which belong to both oneworld and SkyTeam, as some other unique, non-alliance carriers. For example, Alaska partners with Emirates and Fiji Airways, and award redemptions on Hainan and Icelandair should be available soon as well.

Alaska-Airline-Partners

~$2,200 business class tickets to Asia for the whole family

While Cathay Pacific has become considerably stingier when it comes to releasing first class award seats in advance, they’re still amazing about making business class award seats available in advance. For example, planning in advance, Cathay Pacific regularly makes five business class award seats available on most flights between the US and Hong Kong:

Cathay-Business-Awards Cathay-Business-Awards-1

And Cathay Pacific has an excellent business class product, featuring reverse herringbone seats.

Cathay-Pacific-Business-Class-A330-40

Alaska charges just 50,000 miles each way for Cathay Pacific business class between the US and Asia, and you can do a stopover on that.

CX-Asia

At a rate of ~2.1 cents per mile, you can acquire 100,000 Alaska miles for ~$2,100. That means for less than ~$2,200 including taxes and fees you can get a roundtrip business class ticket to Asia with a stopover in each direction. That’s an incredible value.

While lots would of course rather leverage miles & points they earned through credit cards, for those who don’t want to (or can’t) apply for credit cards, or who are new to the hobby and just want a reasonable price on business class, this is a value which is fantastic.

How else can you fly your whole family to Asia in business class for under $2,200 per person roundtrip on a top airline, with a stopover?

EMIRATES FIRST CLASS!!!

Emirates first class is possibly my favorite first class product in the world. It’s just so fun, from the onboard bar, to the onboard shower, to the wifi, to the amazing menu, to the alcohol selection, to… well, everything!

Emirates-A380-First-Class-001

Emirates-A380-First-Class-079

Emirates-A380-First-Class-068

Emirates doesn’t have very many airline partners, though one of the very best ways to redeem for them is through Alaska Mileage Plan.

As a reminder, Alaska’s redemption rates for Emirates first class are as follows:

North America to Middle East/Africa

  • First class between North America and Middle East/India: 90,000 miles one-way
  • First class between North America and Africa: 100,000 miles one-way

EK-Chart-1

North America to Asia

  • First class between North America and Asia: 100,000 miles one-way

EK-Chart-2

North America to Europe

  • First class between North America and Europe: 100,000 miles one-way

EK-Chart-3

While not quite as cheap, that’s still a heck of a deal, especially given how much these awards can be maximized, with up to four A380 first class segments.

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Alaska-4

Best of all, Emirates first class award availability is generally quite good. As long as you’re willing to plan in advance or close to departure, and are willing to fly out of the right gateway city, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding award space.

Bottom line

You have less than two weeks remaining to buy Alaska miles with a 40% bonus. This is generally the lowest publicly available price we see on the purchase of miles.

Should everyone buy Alaska miles? Nope. But I do think it’s the single most useful mileage currency to buy, and even as someone who consistently has millions of miles across all my accounts, I still find myself buying Alaska miles quite often.

If you’re new to the hobby and looking for a great deal on a business class ticket to Asia, or if you really want to shower at 35,000 feet, buying Alaska miles is probably the best way to accomplish that.

Do you plan on buying Alaska miles with a 40% bonus?

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Comments

  1. @Lucky – Pardon my ignorance, but does that mean that I can buy Alaska miles and use them for premium cabin flights on Korean Air? If so, how does the process work exactly?
    Thanks for pointing this out, Lucky! 🙂

  2. Lucky,
    Can I buy these miles if I just signed up for the Alaska program? Did I miss the window by 2 days – signed up on 9.25. I’m ready to plan a trip and buying some Alaska miles makes sense as I also accrue points with SPG. I like the idea of the stopover; Iceland to Europe, Africa, and Asia are all on our list for the next family trip. I’m open to suggestions if you have any!
    Cheers,
    Kim

  3. $2200 to Asia per person for a family of 4 is several thousand dollars yu know? When round trip economy fares are around $600-800 regularly, that’s a lot of extra premium to pay.

    You seem to consistently not realize that when hawking the same tired idea of buying these miles.

  4. I’m trying to book a trip from ORD to ADD over Christmas. I dont see anything from ORD and I am willing to position to another city. Where do you usually see the best availability?

  5. @Jon – Sure you can fly in economy for ~$1k to asia but if sitting in coach for 14 hours is not something you’d rather do, $2200 is a heck of a deal to fly in comfort, especially in CX J where a paid ticket would be in the $6k range. Obviously not everyone can afford to pay $2200/person for a family of four, but if you have the means, it’s a no brainer.

  6. Ben, I recently took advantage of buying Alaska miles to book my return flight from BKK to LAX. I wish I could make good use of the stopover rule, but I’m just not a fan of HKG so I’ll be flying straight home with a connection in HKG. I would like to fly KAL and have a stopover in ICN if i can but I’m not sure how to find 3 J seats on KAL.

  7. My favorite award is 75K for Emirates business class to Europe with a stopover in Dubai. This is about $1,582 if buying miles, a crazy deal! Business class is almost as good as First on Emirates…the window seats are very private. The food is identical save for a couple of extra courses in First, and the onboard shower really doesn’t appeal to me much. (Lucky *loves* the shower, but I kinda don’t get it. It’s a shower). So US-DXB-Europe you get two A380 trips. Usually, I’ll get a cheap ticket back to the States on IcelandAir or Norwegian; I don’t need all the extravagance on a day flight when I won’t sleep anyway.

  8. You know that $1582 for a one way ticket is not a crazy deal right? That is almost $3,000 round trip. There are occasional sales that cost the exact same amount….

  9. Had a nice lunch with my dad today. We are not rich by any standards, at least monetarily.

    Brought up the upcoming EK F flights for both of us to the Middle East I booked through purchased AS miles.

    “But how much would those cost if paid in cash?” My dad asked.

    I took a bite of Pad Thai.

    “Probably around 30,000 dollars round trip.”

    “Jesus.”

    Had to explain how miles benefit the airline and their partners. But even in doing so, realized… What a good time to stockpile AS miles.

    It won’t last forever, folks.

  10. Three times I’ve called Alaska to try booking CX where I’ve found availability on BA’s site. Three times they’ve told me they can’t see the same awards and then declined to help me find alternatives.

  11. What’s the best ways to use AS miles travel to Europe? I would like to go to Paris.
    Which airline I should use to stopover in Paris then onward to another European city?
    Thanks

  12. @Tombie

    Yes in general flight must be too or from the US since Alaska has rewards chart specific to each partner.

    There are some exceptions like CX Europe to HKG and CX intra Asia.

    Try checking out Alaska website for the rewards chart.

  13. @Flyer

    AF/KLM would be your best bet for Paris since they are considered one airline by Alaska seeing as you can not mix partners on a single award.

  14. Hi Ben,

    I live in Sydney & travel a couple of times a year to London.

    Is it better for me to buy such promotions from Alaska or from AA?

    Appreciate your opinion and thanks for your wonderful web-site & newsletter – the information therein is gold!

    Cheers, Darshak

  15. @Darshak

    Did you bother to check out the link under “partner with some airlines”?

    Problem is the Alaska has an unique award chart for each partner based on travel between fixed regions, unless there is a published routing you can not fly.

    Getting to Lon from SYD would take 2 separate awards of Cathay. First SYD-HKG and then HKG-LON.

    AA is more flexible, but unlike Alaska there is limit to how many mile you can buy in a year. Also there are some rules on AA on what parts of the world a flight can be routed true.

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