In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!
I’d argue the three frequent flyer programs which most frequently and lucratively sell miles are Alaska Mileage Plan, American AAdvantage, and Avianca LifeMiles. Of those, the airline from which I most frequently buy miles is Alaska Mileage Plan, given the unique partnerships the airline has.
Alaska is offering up to a 50% bonus on purchased miles
Alaska Mileage Plan is offering a mystery bonus on the purchase of miles, whereby you can earn between 35% and 50% bonus miles when you buy Alaska miles. This is a limited time promotion which is only available through December 23, 2015.
My Mileage Plan account was targeted for a 40% bonus:
My mom’s Mileage Plan account was targeted for a 35% bonus:
And my dad’s Mileage Plan account was targeted for a 50% bonus:
When Alaska sells miles they typically offer a 35-40% bonus, so even the 40% bonus is typically as good as it gets. But if you were targeted for a 50% bonus, that’s a heck of a deal.
In all instances the bonuses are tiered, where you get a larger bonus the more miles you buy. When it comes to the 50% bonus, the tiers are as follows:
- Buy 10,000-19,000 miles, get a 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get a 35% bonus
- Buy 40,000-60,000 miles, get a 50% bonus
In other words, if you max out the promotion and purchase 60,000 miles you’d receive a bonus of 30,000 miles. That’s 90,000 miles at a cost of $1,773.75, which is ~1.97 cents per mile.
If you were targeted for a 40% bonus the best you could do is ~2.11 cents per mile, while if you were targeted for a 35% bonus the best you could do is ~2.19 cents per mile.
All of those are attractive rates at which to rack up Alaska miles, given how valuable the miles are.
It’s interesting to note that Alaska has actually increased the maximum number of miles you can purchase per transaction pre-bonus from 40,000 miles to 60,000 miles.
For what it’s worth, Alaska mileage purchases are processed by points.com, meaning they don’t count as airfare spend for the purposes of your credit card. That means if you buy miles you’ll want to use a card which maximizes your return on everyday, non-bonused spend, like the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card or Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.
Why you should consider buying Alaska miles
A while back I wrote a post entitled “6 Reasons Buying Alaska Miles Is A Good Deal.” Check out that post for full details, though just to summarize, here’s what makes Mileage Plan so unique:
- You’re allowed a free stopover, even on a one-way award
- Mileage Plan has generous change & cancellation policies (up until 60 days before departure you can change and redeposit your award for free, and within that timeframe the cost is $125 per person)
- There’s no limit to how many miles you can buy per promotion, so this is great for people just getting started in the hobby (you can buy up to 60,000 miles per transaction, but can make as many transactions as you’d like)
- Alaska has some unique airline partners, like Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Fiji Airways, etc.
- Alaska miles are especially useful for travel in Cathay Pacific business class, where there are often five business class seats available per flight; the ability to do a “free” stopover in Hong Kong enroute to elsewhere is awesome as well
- Alaska miles are probably the single best currency to redeem for Emirates first class, which is one of my favorite products out there
Redeem Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific business class
Best uses of Alaska miles?
Overall, if you’re going to buy miles, you typically want to use those miles for travel in international premium cabins. That’s where the best value is going to be, and buying miles can even be a great way to reduce the overall cost of your trip.
Alaska also has a fantastic award chart, or rather, a pile of award charts. Each of their partner carriers has a different chart by region. It’s worth noting that Alaska doesn’t publish award rates for all regions, and if they don’t publish a chart between regions you can’t redeem miles for that route. A lot of their award charts are simply for travel originating or terminating in the US.
But you can still fly Cathay Pacific between Hong Kong and Europe or Australia, for example, or Fiji Airways intra-South Pacific. You can find all the award charts by region here:
|Intra-State||Continental U.S. and Canada||Hawaii|
|Mexico||Caribbean||Central and South America|
|Europe||Africa – Middle East – India||Australia – NZ – South Pacific|
On all of these awards, the following rules apply:
- One stopover of more than 24 hours (in addition to the destination) is allowed, even on one-way awards
- You can’t mix partners on an award ticket, but you can add in Alaska Airlines flights to connect from the gateway city in North America
- With the exception of British Airways, fees on awards are very mild
That last point is key if you live outside of the US — Alaska seems to have recently removed the restriction preventing foreign residents from buying miles. So in many cases (especially for Australians!), it might make sense to buy miles with Alaska versus paying the very high fuel surcharges you’d typically pay when redeeming other miles.
Redeem Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific first class
I love Alaska Mileage Plan miles, and have used them for so many great redemptions over the years, in particular in Emirates first class. 40% is about as good as the mileage purchase bonus typically gets, so be sure you check to see what kind of a bonus you were targeted for.
Alaska miles are one of the best ways to redeem miles for Emirates first class
If you were targeted for a 40-50% bonus, I’d seriously consider buying some Alaska miles.
How big of a bonus were you targeted for, and do you plan on buying miles through this promotion?