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Through December 31, 2016, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles.
The bonuses are tiered, based on how many miles you buy per transaction, as follows:
- Buy 10,000-19,000 miles, get a 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000-29,000 miles, get a 30% bonus
- Buy 30,000-60,000 miles, get a 40% bonus
This bonus seems to be the same for all members, while the past couple of promotions Alaska has offered were mystery targeted offers, where different accounts were targeted for different bonuses.
They’re also marketing this as an opportunity to win a million Mileage Plan miles, though personally I wouldn’t make my purchase decision based on that.
What’s the cost to purchase miles through this promo?
When Alaska sells miles they typically offer a 35-40% bonus, so the 40% bonus is typically as good as it gets. During their last mileage sale some people were targeted for a 50% bonus, though this bonus is as good as it typically gets.
If you buy miles with a 40% bonus you’ll end up paying ~2.11 cents per mile. If you maxed out the promo, you would receive 84,000 miles for $1,773.75.
While the maximum number of miles you can purchase per transaction is 60,000 pre-bonus, you can buy as many sets of miles as you’d like. So you could buy a million miles if you wanted to, for example.
Who should buy Alaska miles with a 40% bonus?
Last year 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 are some of the things which make Mileage Plan miles so valuable:
- 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 pre-bonus per transaction, but can make as many transactions as you’d like)
- Alaska has some unique airline partners, like Fiji Airways, Hainan Airlines, Icelandair, 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
- Now that American greatly devalued first class redemptions on partner airlines, redeeming Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific first class is the best way to book that award (though do note that Alaska may not have access to all Cathay Pacific seats)
- Redemption rates in Emirates business class are still reasonable, which is a great way to get to many regions, including India, Africa, Asia, etc.
To give a few examples of some of the great uses of Mileage Plan miles (all of which allow stopovers on one way awards):
- Cathay Pacific first class from the US to Asia for 70,000 miles
- Cathay Pacific business class from the US to Australia for 60,000 miles
- LAN business class from the US to South America for 45,000 miles
- Hainan business class from the US to Asia for 50,000 miles
- Fiji Airways business class from the US to Australia/New Zealand for 55,000 miles
- Icelandair business class from the US to Europe for 55,000 miles
- Korean Air business class from the US to Southeast Asia for 60,000 miles (roundtrip required)
Alaska miles are the best way to redeem for Cathay Pacific first class
Who can buy Alaska miles?
As long as you’ve been a member of Alaska Mileage Plan for at least 10 days, you can purchase miles during this promotion.
Given the promotion runs through the end of the year, I’d recommend joining Mileage Plan today, and then you have time to think about whether or not to make a purchase.
Buying Alaska miles can be a particularly good deal for Australians, so it’s worth looking at the redemption options and seeing if they make sense with your travel plans.
Which credit card should you use?
Alaska mileage purchases are processed by points.com, meaning they don’t count as airfare spend for the purposes of your credit card.
If you buy miles you’ll want to first use a card where you’re meeting minimum spend, and then use a card which maximizes your return on everyday, non-bonused spend, like the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®, Citi® Double Cash Card, etc.
Redeem Alaska miles for Hainan Airlines business class
While we’ve seen some narrowly targeted bonuses in the past that were higher, a 40% bonus on the purchase of Alaska miles is typically as good as it gets. While Alaska Mileage Plan redemptions for Emirates first class have been devalued, there are still tons of other great values to be had.
While I wouldn’t buy miles without a use in mind, there are so many great uses of Alaska miles. I really can’t overstate how valuable the stopovers on one way award are, not to mention some of the unique airline partners that Alaska has.
So while I wouldn’t completely speculatively buy miles through this offer, with a redemption in mind, I think it’s an excellent deal.
Do you plan on buying Alaska miles with a 40% bonus?