New 40% Bonus On Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

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Through April 6, 2017, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles.

Alaska-40-sale

Sometimes Alaska offers several mystery targeted offers, where different accounts are targeted for different bonuses. This promo seems to be the same for everyone, and the more miles you purchase the higher your bonus percentage.

  • Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles = 20% bonus
  • Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles = 30% bonus
  • Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles = 40% bonus

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. Alaska last offered a bonus on purchased miles last month, which also maxed out with a 40% bonus.

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.

alaska-bonus-2

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.

Why are Alaska miles awesome?

There are many reasons, but 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-777 - 27
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 is valid for a few weeks, I’d recommend joining Mileage Plan today, and then you have time to think about whether or not to make a purchase.

Japan-Airlines-First-Class-40
Redeem Alaska miles for Japan Airlines first class

Who should consider purchasing Alaska miles?

There are lots of fabulous uses of Alaska miles, and buying them is generally a good deal. Fundamentally, however, there are three main groups of people who will most benefit from purchasing miles as a strategy:

  • Those who can pay for flights, but would like to save money on a premium cabin flight
  • Those who can’t avail themselves of credit card bonuses and need other ways to rack up miles
  • Australians! Business class space on Cathay Pacific is great outside of school holidays, and purchasing Alaska miles is much less expensive than your other options

And, for tough regions like Africa, Emirates business class redemptions are generally widely available, and are still a good value.

emirates-business-class-a380-26
Redeeming Alaska miles for Emirates A380 business class is still a great value

Don’t buy miles if you don’t know what you’re doing

If you aren’t sure if this is a good deal for you, if you don’t know what your travel plans are, if you haven’t considered the flexibility required for leveraging award tickets, if you have a history of letting miles expire, if you don’t know what award space looks like for your dates — stop.

This deal might not be for you, at least not right now.

There will be other deals. You have time to learn. Ask questions until you feel confident.

By all means sign up for an account so you’re eligible, but it’s okay to take your time or even wait for the next promo.

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 CardStarwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®Citi® Double Cash Card, etc.

Hainan-Airlines-Business-Class-787 - 79
Redeem Alaska miles for Hainan Airlines business class

Bottom line

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. There are tons of other great values to be had, and the recent introduction of Japan Airlines as a partner adds a lot of value to Alaska miles, in my opinion.

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.

Of course there’s some calculus involved in accounting for the miles you’re not earning, and you of course want to make sure there’s actually award availability around your dates. But for many people, this can be a fantastic way to splurge on a more comfortable flight while saving quite a bit over the retail cost.

So while I wouldn’t speculatively buy miles through this offer, especially as these promos seem to be happening more frequently with Alaska. With a redemption in mind, however, I think it’s an excellent deal.

Have you purchased Alaska miles? How did you use them?

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Comments

  1. Thanks Tiffany. I’m planning a trip to Sydney, is accumulating Alaska miles the best strategy for premium award availability LAX to SYD? 2 tickets.

  2. @ Will — It depends on your other options for accruing miles. If you were Australian (where they have fewer opportunities to accrue miles), then I would say yes for sure. If you’re able to leverage credit card bonuses in the U.S. then there are less costly ways to get the needed points for a trip like that.

    In general, if you want to use miles to travel to Australia in a premium cabin, I would plan on routing via Asia. Given Cathay Pacific’s good business class availability and the value in the Alaska chart, this can certainly be a good option — Alaska miles are definitely better than American miles for that trip.

  3. Thanks Tiffany.
    Your posts are always informative.
    Following one of your posts, I used Alaska miles to fly from SFO to SYD last summer, on Quantas, business class on a plane with no first class cabin. It was lovely.
    A question that applies to this and other bookings, if I may.
    I’m planning to book a round-trip on BA from SFO to LHR, using miles (and the BA Visa card 2 for 1). If I book RT tickets 355 days out (thus locking in the outbound on the earliest date permitted) may I then change the return flight two weeks later? Or will I incur a fee (or a forgetaboutit)?

  4. Hello, novice question: does anyone know if Alaska miles work well on upgrades? Meaning I purchase a ticket in economy and use miles to upgrade. If I did that should I purchase the ticket first and call to use miles to upgrade? This would be my first time trying to use miles/money mix so I’m looking for some pointers.

    Cheers!

  5. @ David O — Well, the challenge is that tickets are only valid for one year from the date of issue, so unless your return will be within 10 days of your outbound that doesn’t work. So you’ll want to wait until you’re within a year of your return to book the outbound, and then book either a one-way or a dummy return. There will be a fee to change it either way.

  6. @ Cali — You can’t use Alaska miles to upgrade international flights on partners.

    Mileage upgrades can make sense for Alaska flights to Hawaii (especially if you’re purchasing the base tickets using the Companion Pass), but for other trips it’s probably more economical to just purchase the first class fare.

    Broadly, upgrades with miles only make sense if you are purchasing Premium Economy or have elite status with an airline.

  7. Does anyone know how to view availability on CX when booking with Alaska miles? It’s one of several AS partners that do not show space online through the AS website.

  8. At 40% off (2.11 cents per mile, you could find award seats for)
    $2954 Cathay Pacific first class to Asia
    $2532 Cathay Pacific business class to Australia
    $1899 LAN business class US to South America
    $2110 Hainan business class US to Asia
    $2321 Fiji Airways business class US to Australia
    $2321 Icelandair business class US to Europe
    $2532 Korean Air business class Southeast Asia
    $3481 Emirates Business Class US to middle East
    tax/fees

  9. Perhaps because I bought some miles during the last sale my offer is slightly different. The first two tiers are the same but the last one is slightly different. Still 40 percent max bonus but starting at 30,000 instead of 40,000.

    Buy 30,000 – 60,000 miles = 40% bonus

  10. @Tiffany

    Does AS allow change of class with Awards(e.g. CX) in case a higher cabin class opens up closer to departure?

  11. Can anyone clarify: One way business class award Europe to Asia costs 42500 miles, does it mean anywhere in Asia connecting in Hong Kong (can only use CX) or is it only Europe to Hong Kong then another separate Intra Asia booking?

  12. @ Tiffany — Thanks! I just saw one of the comments on the last Alaska 40% bonus,

    “I joined in December to take advantage of the last 40% promotion and bought enough miles to get me to the 85,000 for Cathay business class return London – HK – Tokyo. Cost me the equivalent of $1800 which gives great value for 4 business class flights…”

    Why is it possible?

  13. @ Tiffany — This is the part that I’m confused about “85,000 for Cathay business class return London – HK – Tokyo”. So you said before that the award is only between Europe and Hong Kong, then another separate Intra Asia booking, in his case Hong Kong to Tokyo, but how did it cost him only 2×42500?

  14. I bought $1200+ worth of miles for my and my partner’s upcoming travel from Australia to Asia on Cathay Pacific in J, is it allowed for stopover, i.e. MEL-BKK, stopover in HKG?

  15. Hi Tiffany, First of all, thanks for bring the news to us and please keep up the good work.
    I am a reader from HK. And my question is:
    1) Do you think Alaska mileage plan suits(workable for) me if I am always departing from HKG?
    2) Is it a good deal if i want to have CX business class from HKG to LON(Round-trip) by using Alaska mileage?

  16. @ Ryan — You know, I’m not sure why that happens. I’ve had intra-Asia segments be included at the same price before as well, but it’s definitely not the rule on that particular chart. It doesn’t make sense to me why you could have North America to anywhere in Asia count as one award, but Europe to anywhere but Hong Kong count as two, but I guess that’s what it is.

  17. @ G — Technically the award chart lists awards between Australia and Hong Kong, with additional segments requiring a separate award. Sometimes onward travel still prices as a single award, but I wouldn’t count on it. It’s not that many more miles though, and you could certainly have a stopover in that case.

  18. @ Tiffany — thanks Tiffany, May I ask how can i check the availability of flights like HKG to LON?
    If I purchased mileage from Alaska, do i need to make long-distance call to Alaska CS for making reservation?
    Thanks again:)

  19. So if i’m planning to go from Raleigh to Bogota Colombia in business class using American Airlines does it make sense to buy Alaska miles & use them?

  20. HI Tiffany, do you know how often Alaska has these bonuses for buying miles. I know there is no exact answer, but it is usually every quarter or something like that?

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