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Alaska Mileage Plan miles are among the most valuable mileage currency, so I’m always on the lookout for promotions from them.
Alaska is offering a targeted 35% bonus on purchased miles
Through January 18, 2016, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering a targeted 35% bonus on the purchase of miles. Best I can tell the promotion may be targeted at those who bought Mileage Plan miles in 2015, at least based on the small sample size of the accounts I manage.
The bonus applies when purchasing at least 30,000 Mileage Plan miles. You can purchase up to 60,000 Mileage Plan miles per transaction (pre-bonus), meaning you could purchase 81,000 miles (including the bonus) for $1,773.75, which is ~2.19 cents per mile.
Last month Alaska also offered a targeted bonus on the purchase of miles, which ranged from 35% to 50%. So this promotion isn’t quite as good on the whole, but if you need to top off your account with Alaska miles in the near future, this is a good opportunity to do so.
Keep in mind that Alaska mileage purchases are processed by points.com, so 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
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 and Icelandair, fees on awards are very mild
Redeem Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific first class
While this promotion isn’t quite as good as the one Alaska offered last month, it’s still one of their “standard” bonus offers. In general I’d buy miles based on when you can redeem them rather than when the deal is marginally better, given the cost of holding onto miles long term.
So if you were targeted, you have about two weeks to buy Alaska miles with a 35% bonus.
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