Great Deal: Up To 50% Bonus On Purchased Alaska Miles

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I’d argue the three frequent flyer programs which most frequently and lucratively sell miles are Alaska Mileage Plan, American AAdvantage, and Avianca LifeMiles. Of those, the airline from which I most frequently buy miles is Alaska Mileage Plan, given the unique partnerships the airline has.

Alaska is offering up to a 50% bonus on purchased miles

Alaska Mileage Plan is offering a mystery bonus on the purchase of miles, whereby you can earn between 35% and 50% bonus miles when you buy Alaska miles. This is a limited time promotion which is only available through December 23, 2015.

My Mileage Plan account was targeted for a 40% bonus:


My mom’s Mileage Plan account was targeted for a 35% bonus:


And my dad’s Mileage Plan account was targeted for a 50% bonus:


When Alaska sells miles they typically offer a 35-40% bonus, so even the 40% bonus is typically as good as it gets. But if you were targeted for a 50% bonus, that’s a heck of a deal.

In all instances the bonuses are tiered, where you get a larger bonus the more miles you buy. When it comes to the 50% bonus, the tiers are as follows:

  • Buy 10,000-19,000 miles, get a 20% bonus
  • Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get a 35% bonus
  • Buy 40,000-60,000 miles, get a 50% bonus

In other words, if you max out the promotion and purchase 60,000 miles you’d receive a bonus of 30,000 miles. That’s 90,000 miles at a cost of $1,773.75, which is ~1.97 cents per mile.


If you were targeted for a 40% bonus the best you could do is ~2.11 cents per mile, while if you were targeted for a 35% bonus the best you could do is ~2.19 cents per mile.

All of those are attractive rates at which to rack up Alaska miles, given how valuable the miles are.

It’s interesting to note that Alaska has actually increased the maximum number of miles you can purchase per transaction pre-bonus from 40,000 miles to 60,000 miles.

For what it’s worth, Alaska mileage purchases are processed by, meaning they 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:

Redeem Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific business 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

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, fees on awards are very mild

That last point is key if you live outside of the US — Alaska seems to have recently removed the restriction preventing foreign residents from buying miles. So in many cases (especially for Australians!), it might make sense to buy miles with Alaska versus paying the very high fuel surcharges you’d typically pay when redeeming other miles.

Redeem Alaska miles for Cathay Pacific first class

Bottom line

I love Alaska Mileage Plan miles, and have used them for so many great redemptions over the years, in particular in Emirates first class. 40% is about as good as the mileage purchase bonus typically gets, so be sure you check to see what kind of a bonus you were targeted for.

Alaska miles are one of the best ways to redeem miles for Emirates first class

If you were targeted for a 40-50% bonus, I’d seriously consider buying some Alaska miles.

How big of a bonus were you targeted for, and do you plan on buying miles through this promotion?

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  1. Anyone know how miles purchases are processed by Alaska? I’m sure it’s been written elsewhere but I’m lazy…

  2. Targeted for 40%.


    On the landing page for buy and share miles in my account it says:

    Instant Mystery Bonus Offer:
    Receive up to 35%, 40% or even more bonus miles when you buy miles through December 23, 2015.

    So until Dec23?

  3. I was targeted for 50% and i’m thinking about whether I should purchase or not.

    It also says I have until 12/23/2015 to buy with the bonus so I’m assuming that’ll be the end date for the promotion.

    @Dave Alaska miles purchases are processed by and wont code as a travel purchase

  4. Hi @Lucky! My account has a 50% targeted offer and I would like to make use of this great deal to help a group of friends (five of them) book a graduation trip to Asia! So technically, I can purchase multiple transactions of 90k miles so that I get enough miles (5x 100), to book biz class return for all of them (of course that is if there is availability, which should be okay since we are flexible with dates amongst ourselves). Question is: would this raise any red flag if I were to purchase so many miles to redeem for other people? Thanks!

  5. My Alaska flying is rather simple – domestic flights between Seattle and Denver. I find that the nominal rate of 12500 miles for a one-way flight has never been available when I actually want to fly. The rate is often so high that I simply pay cash instead.

  6. The reason I haven’t purchased Alaska miles is that its redemption for Emirate First is only eligible for to/from US route (now I am based in ME). Is it still not possible to redeem for Emirate F in ME-East Asia route?? If so, what about Cathay F? Can I redeem Alaska miles for Cathay F in, for example, HND-BKK?

  7. @ Samuel — You can absolutely purchase as many miles as you’d like. While Alaska occasionally audits accounts, as long as you’re not buying or selling miles you should be fine.

  8. @ jessie — You can’t redeem for Emirates to anywhere other than to/from the US. You can, however, redeem Alaska miles for intra-Asia travel on Cathay Pacific.

  9. @Lucky.

    Does this mean that have stopped with whole max 4 transactions per card per month thing?

  10. @ No Name — Ah, that’s correct, you can only use a given card a maximum of four times, but you can use a variety of cards to complete as many purchases as you’d like.

  11. @ Greg — Doubt it, unfortunately. Do you maybe have friends or family, where you could check their account to see what they’re eligible for?

  12. @Jessie.

    Intra Asia awards on CX cost 22,5K points for J and 27,5K points for F oneway.

    Very few planes with F cabin on HKG-BKK so you might end up in J here, see to be better on HND-HKG.

  13. @Lucky,

    I got targeted for the 50% bonus, any thoughts on what the best program is to get to India? I’ve done Emirates and Cathay Pacific first class on the route before with other mileage currencies, so this time am just looking for the best redemption opportunity.

  14. @Lucky

    Since this campaign is running until Dec23, I assume you could get 4 transactions this month and 4 in Dec if you have a specific card you want to spend extra on?

  15. I found this on Emirates in Asia Chart. Does this mean that two Emirates F (US-DXB & DXB-East Asia) in one-way trip costs only 100K??

    First Between North America and Asia 100,000 200,000

  16. @Jessie.

    If you mean 2 segments/flights, then yes.

    90K to Middle east or India, 100K to Asia, Africa or Europe connecting in DXB.

  17. @Chris

    Don’t think you can take CX to India on AS program. My memory is a bit vague, but I believe India is considered part of the Middle East zone by AS.

  18. Got the email from Alaska and then I click on the link, enter in my Alaska number, then it says I’m not eligible. Anyone else have this happen to them?

  19. I was targeted for 50%. however, i’d suggest to anyone considering these purchases to wait until the last possible day (unless your need is imminent). the “extra special” promotions are a sign that a devaluation is coming. alaska hasn’t devalued in a while. no risk in waiting until the last moment.

  20. I tried but couldn’t find. Where can I find Cathay’s Asia/ME/Africa regional definition? Also on Emirate chart, Cairo belongs to ME or Africa? Am targeted for 50% btw.

  21. @Jessie.

    Sorry I goofed earlier, you can take CX to India, see under prices the Africa Chart. No separate chart for India or Middle east. NA to Africa/India/ME is 70K in F oneway.

    CAI seem to be in the middle east zone, come up as 90K NA-DXB-CAI, same price also for India.

    Have never been able to find region definitions for AS sadly.

  22. Lucky… How about an update on the Emirates award space situation? Using ExpertFlyer, it says that there is a technical problem right now whereby the space isn’t showing up reliably. This could explain your report last week that Emirates award space had disappeared from Alaska.

    Apparently the award seats exist, it’s just they’re not being communicated correctly to external partners.


  23. Can I have a stopover in Hong Kong on my way to Vancouver? I don’t know if the routing rules would allow this.


  24. Lucky, We got two accounts with 40% and one accountt with 50%. I assume I can send gift from the 50% account to the other accounts and get the 50% bonus even though it’s only targeted for 40%?

  25. Just joined up bit says I’m not eligible to purchase miles… Is there a time frame before I can do so, or can I not purchase full stop?

  26. For a CX redemption, is AS flexible like AA in that you can redeem for J when no F is available and if F opens up for the same flights you can change to F (for the extra miles) without any fees?

  27. @Samuel, sure you can buy as many miles as you wish, but if all of your redemptions have been for friends in the past or if you don’t have much actual flight credits to your Alaska mileage program, then I would say that booking five more biz awards to Asia at the same time is a lot higher risk (of an audit or worse) than if you were booking a couple of tickets for your parents.

  28. Hi Lucky,

    I just created a new account as well, and it is telling me I am not eligible to purchase miles. I live in Canada.


  29. @ Tom @ Richard @ MW — You have to be a member of Alaska Mileage Plan for ~14 days before you can purchase miles. You’ll be able to purchase miles in a couple weeks. 🙂

  30. Suppose I have an existing AS account with 0 miles. My offer is 40%.
    “If” I create another AS account, different email address but same first/last name, can I try to get a ‘better’ offer in 14 days?

  31. The 50% (or more; mystery hey!) bonus seems to apply to members who have recently flown on Alaska metal, and even higher bonus for those who actually flew using $$ to purchase Alaska flights.
    40% seems to apply to those with active accounts who have redeemed on partner airlines recently.
    35% seems to apply to account holders who are yet to do anything.

  32. Further to what Tiffany says above, I think you will find you will need to have had an ‘eligible’ account (ie more than 14 days old) before this promotion started, to buy. You will have to wait until the next promo.

  33. Joined my boyfriend & I up years ago in readiness for just such an offer, but we both only got the 35%. Damn. They must hate Australians AND Austrians!

  34. Question on the stopover on one-ways: Can I do that online in the booking calendar or do I have to call them? Looking at their website now and can’t seem to figure it out.

  35. What are the rules for booking award tickets or transferring points to friends/family names or accounts? Will the person with the biggest bonus have any problems booking or transferring points for family/friends? Thanks

  36. Lucky, really appreciate your in-depth analysis of the best FF program points buys, CC promotions and other tricks of the trade. As a Canadian resident, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the very few U.S. based FF programs for which I can actually participate in any meaningful way. This is due to the lack of U.S. airline branded CC’s for Canadians and restrictions on bulk point buys for non-U.S. residents on many many U.S. airline FF programs. Alaska Airlines MP is a standout exception for which I am grateful. The fact that it also happens to be one of the best programs out there, accurately identified by you, is icing on the cake.

    I just applied & was approved for the MBNA (Canadian bank) Alaska Airline Mastercard and am giddy with anticipation of my 25K bonus miles. A few more points purchased through the current “mystery % bonus” promotion (fingers crossed for 50%) means that I am salivating at my soon-to-be Cathay Pacific business class flight from YVR –> HKG, which leads to my question:

    What has been your experience redeeming Cathay Flights via the AA Mileage Plan program, with respect to availability & routing ? I realize that CX flights must be redeemed over the phone with an Alaska rep, so I was wondering as to your experiences in that regard. The CX awards shown on your screen shots for this article was taken from another FF program? Thanks & keep flying.

  37. Looks like they took the 50% possible bonus out. When I went on the top possible bonus offer was 40%…Anyone else notice that?

    Any word on possible devaluation….?

  38. With 50%, this puts an Emirates business class ticket to Europe at $3k R/T, and first is $4k. Seems pricey still. More than their typical promotions/sales. Am I thinking about this wrong?

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