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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.
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.
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:
- 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 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
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.