Should You Buy Alaska Miles With A 40% Bonus?

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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:

Redeeming Alaska miles for Emirates A380 business class is still a great value

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 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, 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. 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?

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  1. I don’t know Alaska’s FFP all too well, but looking at their award chart, I see a lot of holes in it: you can’t fly Qantas from Europe to Australia, Emirates from Europe to the Middle East, LAN from South America to New Zealand or Tahiti etc. etc. What’s up with these routes?

  2. I keep hearing about some sort of AT&T credit card that offers points for online spending. Citi issues it, could you perhaps go over than in some article? I think it would be a useful card for online spending.

  3. Or more precisely asked, if you use the Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa to buy Alaska Miles, will you receive a travel credit?

  4. I always found a inventory discrepancy between British Airways and Cathay Dragon. Always hard to book F award.

  5. @Wayne — While I cannot say for certain, I *doubt* it. You are purchasing miles through, and most credit cards do NOT see that as a travel/airline purchase, but rather as a “normal” retail merchant transaction.

  6. @Lucky — No, I don’t intend on buying miles from Alaska at this time. First of all, I presently have less than 2500 miles on Alaska, so the number of miles I would need to purchase is prohibitively expensive. Secondly, the six-figure Virgin America miles, plus my elite status, should transfer over soon . . .

  7. LOL, these posts always crack me up. How much is Alaska paying you? I remember you writing a blog expressing what I now to believe “fake” outrage over the Emirates deval, especially for people who bought points or transferred them in to do a redemption.

    And here you are saying it’s a good deal to buy more Alaska miles.

    My God man, how low will you go?

  8. Thanks, Tiffany, I was aware of that but I thought that there was a system where I could transfer points between loyalty programs.
    I have 95000 Avios points but want to transfer them to build up my Alaska Mileage points.


  9. @Chris

    The award chart definitely has some noticeable holes (particularly for those of us located in Europe). Keep in mind though it’s an American airline meant for Americans so this shouldn’t be surprising.

    Europe – Australia:
    One can take a Cathay redemption to HKG and then another to Australia/NZ. One way via two redemptions in J is 72,500 which is better than any of the other big 3 US programs for transiting between Europe and the South Pacific – and it’s CX. They also have a new partnership with JAL so some other options may come up there, though the redemption rates haven’t been announced yet.

  10. With Dragonair being remodel under Cathay, does that mean we can use Alaska miles to book flights connecting on dragonair?

  11. There is a rumoured large devaluation coming for Alaska miles soon and given the screwing I received with the instantaneous devaluation with Emirates last year I am really sceptical about buying more points. I still have 150,000 points I purchased for a return F flight CPT-YLW on Emirates that I purchased late March a few hours before the devaluation that I am stuck with.

    My SEA-SFO sector reward (that connects outbound on EK) for the YLW-CPT segment of the trip is STILL WAITLISTED for F even though the entire airplane was empty last February when I booked the flight. I sense that I will be flying Y on that sector.

    Wanted to book return on CX via LAX and AS had no available reward seats LAX-SEA on day x. So booked instead Qatar using AAdvantage miles and had an immediate connection LAX-SEA in F available on the same day same time. So AS does not release their F seats to their own passengers (we are both elite) but releases them immediately to AA. Go Figure?

    So I suggest not to stock up on AS points as it looks like a very unhappy future.

  12. @Wayne – Can confirm for Sapphire Reserve it doesn’t see the Alaska miles purchase as a travel purchase. It did help with getting the $4000 minimum spend though.

    @Eugene – Do you mean the AT&T Access card? Unfortunately it’s no longer available from what I can tell but if you did get it when it was available then these were the legacy earning structures it offered:

    3x ThankYou points on purchases made online at retail and travel websites
    3x ThankYou Points on products and services purchases directly from AT&T
    1x ThankYou Point per $1 on all other purchases

    Even then I guess it depends on how much of your spend is directly online.

  13. How long do the points and bonus points take to post? If I see a flight I like could I buy the points and book it that instant?

  14. @Jim, I don’t get your point at all. If you read the final sentence, the post discourages buying miles speculatively. Then is says, with a specific redemption in mind, it is an excellent deal. Sounds to me like you have a problem with the second part of that sentence. Bit, isn’t value a subjective concept? Spending 150,000 Alaska miles for a first class flight on Emirates may not be valuable to you, but it could very well be the case for me. As it turns out, it is the case for me, since that is the only top-tier first class product I have yet to experience. I’m not saying that I will purchase miles this time around, but if I wanted to have that experience in the near future I will need to top off my account with an additional 45,000 miles. And if that was indeed what I wanted to do, this deal is about as good as it gets with Alaska. That is all I thought the post was saying, and I don’t see absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  15. What are the scenarios (“best case,” “worst case” and “base case”) how the VX buyout will affect Mileage Plan?

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