Buy The Most Valuable Miles With A 40% Bonus

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On a value per mile basis, I consider Alaska Mileage Plan miles to be the single most valuable mileage currency. I’m always on the lookout for promotions from them, since I’ve purchased miles from them on several occasions.

Alaska is offering a 40% bonus on purchased miles

Through March 31, 2016, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 40% bonus on the purchase of miles. This promotion isn’t targeted unlike some other recent promotions, so everyone should be eligible for the offer.

Alaska-Bonus

The bonus is tiered, where you get a bigger bonus the more miles you purchase, as follows:

  • Buy 10,000-19,000 miles, get a 20% bonus
  • Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get a 30% bonus
  • Buy 40,000-60,000 miles, get a 40% bonus

You can purchase up to 60,000 Mileage Plan miles per transaction (pre-bonus), meaning you could purchase 84,000 miles (including the bonus) for $1,773.75, which is ~2.11 cents per mile.

Alaska-Bonus-1

Last month Alaska offered up to a 35% bonus on the purchase of miles, though the offer was targeted, so not all accounts were eligible. This promotion is obviously a much better opportunity, both because it’s not targeted, and also because the bonus is higher.

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:

Emirates-Shower
Redeem Alaska miles for Emirates first 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-StateContinental U.S. and CanadaHawaii
MexicoCaribbean Central and South America
EuropeAfrica – Middle East – India Australia – NZ – South Pacific
Asia

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

Cathay-Pacific-First-HKG
Redeem Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific first class

Bottom line

The 40% bonus is generally as good as the publicly available promotions on the purchase of Alaska miles get. Alaska miles are extremely valuable, especially in light of the upcoming American AAdvantage devaluation, which makes Alaska miles a fantastic option for redemptions in Cathay Pacific first & business class. Therefore I’d seriously consider taking advantage of this offer.

The other good thing is that the promotion is valid for about six more weeks, including until after American’s award chart devaluation. So you have plenty of time to think over the offer before buying Alaska miles with a 40% bonus.

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Comments

  1. “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”

    So if I am flying Cathay from say SFO to HKK, my connection to SFO is not included right? I live in Portland.

  2. @Nick, well, SFO is the gateway city in this case. The question you want to ask would be does Alaska fly between SFO and PDX?

  3. Hi Lucky am I correct to presume that by saying”the most valuable miles” you limit yourself to US residents and for travel exclusively to and from US?

  4. @ Kevin — No, I’d say they’re the most valuable mileage currency on a value per cent basis. Everyone values different mileage currencies differently, but your residency doesn’t impact the value of the miles. Yes, they have specific regions between which you can redeem (they also allow Europe to Asia redemptions, for example), and the above is based on my valuation. I understand others may disagree.

  5. @ Nick — You can include a connecting flight on Alaska to the gateway city, but not on a partner airline.

  6. is it possible to book CDG-HKG-SIN as one award on Cathay Pacific or do I have to book one Europe to Hong Kong flight plus 1 intra-Asia flight?

  7. CX award space is getting harder and harder to come by. Even last minute, there are virtually no open seats from LAX to HKG even in business class. Hope this isn’t a sign of things to come and just a temporary trend.

    One thing I really hate about Alaskan awards is not being able to mix partners. Really limits on where you can go.

  8. @lucky – Hi there! As someone flying out of LAX (and its surrounding airports) I feel thoroughly cheated by Alaska. Premium class awards to India are priced at 72,000 miles per way, however often involve a 2 hour flight to Seattle in business, then onto Dubai and India via Emirates in coach! The same applies to British. I hate to admit it, but Alaska seems to employ the strategy of flying you for a few hours in premium class, then the longhaul segements in coach while advertising it all as “Business.” Are there, in all honesty, any pure business awards?

  9. Lucky, any comment about Alaska freezing some accounts? There’s a long thread on the AS FT thread about accounts getting locked of some folks who booked partner premium class awards. It seems like a lot of the guys on that thread didn’t do anything wrong – potential triggers were (all) booking intl premium tickets, often booking for family / friends / colleagues, and Starwood transfers – and is some cause for concern. All under the guise that basically says “The T&C allow us to do whatever we want”. In some cases accounts were restored when fliers admitted to phantom wrongdoing and not to book for anyone but themselves again. Clearly it seems AS is worried about mileage brokers, but reading those threads guys seem to be legit fliers caught up in an overzealous AS fraud hunt.

    It would just be insane if Alaska did this to people who buy miles…..any concern here? They are indeed valuable miles but it seems a little dicey to push these if AS inserts some risk to the equation by trying to limit partner premium redemptions using scare tactics.

  10. I actually was trying to book Taipei to Dubai to JFK, but somehow when I call Alaska, they don’t let me stopover in Dubai, and say I can only connect for 8 hours, instead of extending my stay for an additional day ??? Am I missing something or the Alaska air rep messed up ?

  11. Lucky: Besides AA’s devaluation Mar. 22, are you aware if any other AK partner award charts are going to be devalued near term? Also, it seems then that AK links CX award levels to AA’s OW/other partner chart? I would have thought that, as a non-alliance airline, AK uses each partner’s chart separately? Thanks.

  12. Thanks everyone for your help! I am going to check availability and book after buying some miles. I have always wanted to fly CX business class and this makes it affordable!!

    Lets hope AS does not devalue like AA is getting ready to do.

  13. @Lucky – If I joined AS Mileage Plan today – how long do I need to wait for until I can purchase miles? When I try to login right now, I am getting an “invalid” email/login message. Thanks for all of your tips!!

  14. @lucky @kevin I definitely disagree that residency does not impact value of Alaska miles. As an Australian resident, Alaska miles are definitely less useful than if you live in the US. As such, the restriction in regions you can book between definitely need to be taken into account when it comes to valuation and assessment of whether a deal is worth taking up.

    Emirates is the biggest issue for Australian / NZ Alaska purchasers – Emirates is not on the Alaska award chart for our region.

  15. In theory, this is all great and tempting. But just a few days ago, I was desperately looking for award space between Fiji Islands and New Zealand and Australia — and ended up having to pay big bucks for my travels this summer, because there was simply no award space available at all… So though I have tons of miles, I simply cannot use them (and I am talking about travel in July!) when I would need this. I am getting to the point where I am counting myself out of the points game….

  16. Lucky,
    Great post! Is it possible to earn and redeem Alaska miles on AA code shares, like AirBerlin flight JFK-DUS with an AA number?
    Thanks!

  17. @ Gerhard — Unfortunately you can just redeem on the airlines that Alaska partners with directly, and not on partners of their partners.

  18. A few questions:

    1) Do the miles expires?
    2) Does the account need to be open for a certain amount of time before you can buy miles?

  19. @lucky why do people not do their own due diligence on such matters? then when things go pear-shape they come and blame the person trying to “sell” these miles to them. a whole lot of the questions asked about program details, as well as limitations to routings are clearly stated on the AS mileage plan website. it’s not as if you’re trying to hawk them on some fancy avianca geographically mis-located routing.

  20. @ ringingup — The miles expire after 18 months of inactivity, though any activity will reset the expiration. The account needs to be open for at least 14 days to buy miles, so if you create an account now you can still buy them during this promotion.

  21. @ James K — Sounds like a misinformed agent, or maybe some miscommunication. I’d hang up and call again. Maybe they were just saying that there wasn’t award availability for your desired date?

  22. @ Chris R — It could certainly happen, though nothing has been announced yet. I’m sure we’ll see a devaluation of their partner charts at some point, though I’m sure they’ll give advance notice.

  23. Thanks Lucky! Too bad regarding redeeming. How about earning Alaska miles on code shares, like an AirBerlin flight with an AA number?

  24. Hi Lucky,

    For the CX australian award chart it says
    “Between Hong Kong and Australia”.

    But can you book MEL – HKG – BKK as well?

    Cheers
    thenewone

  25. @Ben – having trouble getting any one of these routes online using miles ? Should I be calling Alaska to book them ?
    (1) DFW or Houston – DXB- JNB (with stopover in Dubai) round trip or
    (2) Austin-LAX- Fiji (don’t know which island)-wellington (NZ) ONE WAY and then
    (3) Wellington-Sydney-LAX-Austin (One way)

  26. This sounds like it might work for me. So what’s an example of my cost for 2 people roundtrip business, LAX to Hong Kong on Cathay?

  27. Would also like to understand the award charts for non ex-US. Is the only ex-Europe award with CX to HKG or does it allow ex-EU to Asia connecting in HKG on one award (similar to thenewone’s question above).

  28. “Alaska miles are probably the single best currency to redeem for Emirates first class”

    @Lucky – I would agree the best use of “Alaska miles” is to redeem on EK F as It is very easy to accumulate accumulate Alaska Miles by buying them on these promos.

    However if you have JAL’s mileage bank, they have a better rate to fly on EK F to multiple destinations,

    JAL Partner award chart:
    http://www.ar.jal.com/ar/en/jalmile/use/partner_air/p_jmb/jmb_mile_ar.html

    JAL Mileage Calculator:
    https://www121.jal.co.jp/JmbWeb/JR/SectionMile_en.do

    Example: JFK-MIL-DXB-BKK-DXB-JFK , total route is calculated only as 19,855 miles, You need just 155,000 JAL Miles to fly EK First or 100,000 Business class on the entire trip.

    May I suggest a blog on this, you still are the expert 😉

  29. @Lucky: If I buy miles, I’m planning to spend it on a one way CX business class. Would I be able to do this routing: SFO-HKG(stopover)-TYO(destination)? Thanks

  30. Lucky, maybe Cathay has limited its seats for Alaskan redemption. I have found seats available on BA sites but different agents have all told me they see nothing at all.

  31. Hi Lucky, how come its advertised as emirates first class, but only fly you coach jfk – dubai, and first class dubai – hkg? thanks!!

  32. @Sam @VM I’m seeing the same issue for EK JFK-BOM as far out as July! They fly you in coach JFK-DXB and then First on DXB-BOM and are still charging 90,000 miles for the trip. Sounds like a major deal-breaker. Any thoughts @Lucky?

  33. Lucky Can I buy Milage Tickets on BA for My Wife & Daughter without me traveling with them or does the Milage Pan A/c Holder have to be one of the Traveller

  34. Hi there

    I am new to this. So if I want to go from LHR to SIN (with one connections max), travelling on Cathay or Emirates, I have to buy 60,000 and 20,000 to get enough miles for First Class award ticket return (ie with the bonus it adds up)? How do I go about it?

    In your opinion, is Business Class good enough?

    Thanks!

  35. We just flew AF business class SEA-YVR-CDG with one of those mixed economy/business awards, but it was only because the 45 minute hop from Seattle to YVR doesn’t have classes.

    I think the best way to search for business/first availability is to just search the big leg of the trip. Don’t search PDX -> CDG, search LAX or YVR (or SFO for other destinations, but you get the idea) and just look at the nonstops. Then figure out how to get to the big airport.

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