Review: Alaska Airlines Credit Card

Filed Under: Alaska, Credit Cards
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The Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card is one of my favorite co-branded airline credit cards. It’s a card I’ve had for years (along with the business version of the card, the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit Card), and in this post I wanted to provide a rundown of why I think this card is so great.

If you don’t yet have the Alaska Card, it has a generous welcome bonus and is worth holding onto long-term, which is a combination that’s tough to beat.

So let’s look at the details of the Alaska Visa:

Alaska Airlines Credit Card bonus

The Alaska Airlines Credit Card is offering the following bonus to new members after they spend $2,000 within 90 days:

  • 40,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles
  • An Alaska Airlines $121 companion certificate the first year ($99 plus taxes and fees starting at just $22)

Personally, I value Alaska miles at close to two cents each, so that’s a huge bonus as far as I’m concerned. I know 40,000 miles might not sound like that much, but Alaska miles are incredibly valuable, given how many great uses there are for them.

Redeem Alaska miles for travel in Japan Airlines’ 787 business class

Alaska Airlines Credit Card annual fee

The Alaska Airlines Credit Card has a reasonable $75 annual fee. That’s on the low side for a co-brand airline credit card, even though I consider this to be one of the best such cards.

Alaska Airlines Credit Card rewards

The Alaska Airlines Credit Card offers one mile per dollar spent on everyday purchases. It also offers three miles per dollar spent directly with Alaska. The Alaska Card also has no foreign transaction fees, which makes it useful for global purchases.

While I do value Alaska miles immensely on a per mile basis, this isn’t a card I’d be putting all that much spending on, given that there are other cards offering 1.5-2x transferable points per dollar spent.

The exception is if you’re really desperate for Alaska miles, given that Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t partner with any of the major transferable points currencies.

Alaska Airlines Credit Card companion ticket

The reason that the Alaska Airlines Credit Card is such a keeper is because of the annual companion ticket that it offers, which consistently more than justifies the annual fee, in my opinion.

The Alaska Airlines companion certificate is the single most valuable airline credit card companion ticket, in my opinion. You’ll pay $99 plus taxes and fees (which start at $22), so you’re looking at paying $121+ for your companion.

What makes this companion fare so exceptional is that it’s valid on all Alaska Airlines economy fares, you can use it for one-ways or roundtrips, the companion even earns miles and is eligible for upgrades, etc. You can also use it anywhere Alaska flights, from Hawaii, to Costa Rica, to Mexico.

See this post for everything you need to know about the Alaska Airlines companion fare. Even as someone who doesn’t fly Alaska that often, this is something I’ve consistently gotten good value out of.

The companion ticket is useful for travel on Alaska

How to apply for the Alaska Airlines Credit Card

The Alaska Airlines Credit Card is issued by Bank of America, so there are some general restrictions to be aware of:

  • Bank of America will typically only approve you for two cards in a two month period, three cards in a 12 month period, and four cards in a 24 month period (this typically doesn’t include business cards)
  • Per the terms, “this card will not be available to you if you currently have or have had the card in the preceding 24 month period”

Complement this with a business credit card card

If you’re looking for a card for your small business, the Alaska Airlines Business Credit Card has the same welcome bonus, and also offers a companion ticket.

It could make a lot of sense to pick up both the personal and business version of the card, and then you could earn 80,000 bonus miles plus two companion tickets every year (including the first year).

You should even be able to apply for both cards the same day.

Alaska Airlines Credit Card alternatives

In general, I don’t recommend using an airline credit card as your primary card for your everyday spending. That’s because you have many credit cards that:

If you’re looking for an extremely lucrative card that earns travel rewards, there are a few other options that are worth considering:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers double points on dining and travel and great travel protection ($95 annual fee)
  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card has a welcome bonus of up to 50K points and offers triple points on dining and travel, a $300 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass membership, a Global Entry fee credit, great travel protection, and more ($450 annual fee)
  • The Citi Premier℠ Card has a welcome bonus of up to 50K points and offers triple points on travel and gas, double points on dining and entertainment ($95 annual fee, waived the first year)
  • The American Express® Gold Card offers 4x points at US restaurants, 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year), and 3x points for airfare purchased directly with airlines, plus offers a $100 annual airline fee credit and up to a $120 annual dining credit ($250 annual fee (Rates & Fees))

Bottom line

The Alaska Airlines Credit Card is one of the most valuable and underrated airline credit cards out there, in my opinion. This is a card that many people don’t have, though between the welcome bonus and annual companion ticket, it’s well worth keeping long term.

If you really want to rack up Alaska miles and are eligible, also pick up the Alaska Airlines Business Credit Card while you’re at it, and you could be looking at 80,000 Alaska miles plus two companion tickets per year.

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees).

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Comments

  1. Another valuable perk with Alaska credit card is free checked luggage for traveler and anyone else on the reservation when you flash the card at baggage dropoff.

  2. without talking about availability , “good value” is meaningless. The best value Lucky always talking about Alaska are on JAL and CATHAY. As someone said before, we are not all professional bloggers who have flexible schedule and mostly travel solo. Time and number of spaces are important factors all those bloggers tend to ignore.

    In that sens, Cathay and JAL are notoriously lack of availability around peak season and with abundant spaces. The only practical option I found with Alaska is Hainan. Hainan has a lot of obscure route such as JFK to Chengdu that lack of demand so they are more than likely be generous on reward spaces. But you guys are more or less sinaphobia so this was by and large got ignored too. Also if you want to take the opportunities, don’t wait. Who knows how long this situation can last.

  3. Are there flight reviews any more on this site? Or is it all credit card pitches, all the time now?

  4. Companion is only eligible for upgrade if he/she has status! I have MVP and that usually gets me upgraded but when booking a companion fare we both got put into economy and neither one of us can be upgraded

  5. @Lu,

    Great points about flexibility being a topic that tends to be ignored by bloggers; I feel your pain and have had to make some odd routings or book very far in advance to take advantage of my miles. Also, though…to claim Ben is sinaphobic is wholly wrong. At best, you’re ignorant and lazy as a whole bunch of China-centric reviews can be found here with a few simple clicks of the moust and typing 5 letters: https://onemileatatime.com/?cat=2670&s=china. At worst, you’re a race-baiting troll. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re the former.

  6. And what about other benefits? Does it offer purchase protection? What about travel delay benefits? It’s always the sign up bonus that are talked about.

  7. @AdamR , I didn’t say Lucky is sinaphobia but most of the commentators here and you pretty much proved my point. look at how nasty your language is, if you don’t have some “special feel” it cannot be ex plaint.

  8. @Lu:

    Taken directly from your comment: But you guys are more or less sinaphobia so this was by and large got ignored too.

    In fact, not only are you implying Ben is sinaphobic, but that all bloggers are generally sinaphobic. And now with your second comment you’re extending your racism generalization to both bloggers and those that comment on blogs. Do you want to dig this hole any deeper?

  9. I dropped this card earlier this year for several reasons. First and most importantly, unlike credit cards from the big three, this card does not offer priority boarding. I don’t have elite status with all airlines, so the priority boarding obtained from credit cards is essential. The Alaska card was useless in this regard.

    Second, the companion certificate is only available in coach. First world problems, I know, but I prefer to travel up front. Getting a second Alaska coach ticket when I didn’t want the first one isn’t helpful (especially with no priority boarding).

    Third, this card doesn’t provide any assistance in obtaining elite status through spending. The prior Virgin America card did, as do cards from American and Delta. With JetBlue you can obtain status SOLELY through spend. With Alaska’s card? Nothing.

    In sum, I didn’t feel that I was getting anything for my annual fee and cancelled the card. #NoRegrets

  10. Lucky,
    You’re missing a pretty vital piece of information regarding the application process for this card.

    In the fine print you’ll see that if approved with a limit over $5000 you do in fact get the card you applied for. However…. If you get approved for a limit less than $5000 you instead get sent Bank of America’s Platinum Plus card, that allegedly has none of the perks that make the Alaska Airlines Visa so enticing.

    I say “allegedly” because there isn’t much info online about this, and a lot of it is conflicting. Bank of America is purposefully very silent on this, with absolutely no mention of the Platinum Plus Alaska Airline card anywhere on their website other than the fine print in the Alaska Airline Visa terms and conditions. They also don’t list the benefits anywhere on their site for this lesser card. If you were approved for the visa card and want to make sure you actually got the good card and not the platinum plus? That’s tricky too, as BoA doesn’t say which card you’re getting when checking your application status online, or in the email stating that you were approved.

    It would be nice to see an article exploring what I believe is the only example of something so shady in the industry. Or is there another instance where you apply for a card and are potentially given a completely useless card in it’s place?

  11. @Bob King – you are 100% right about the card. It would be great to have priority access or EQMs that count toward elite qualification.

    I only use this card to generate Alaska miles, because of their worth. No other reason that I can see.

  12. @Brandon Your last comment is what keeps me from bothering to apply. I see no point in unlocking my freezes only to be bait and switched. Alaska, please partner with a different bank.

  13. Can you apply for business card and get mileage sign up bonus even if you already have the individual card?

  14. I find the companion ticket usually worthless. If I find a flight from point A to point B on alaska.com for $200 and then I try to use the companion ticket suddenly that price is not available and becomes a $300 ticket, saving me zero. A better perk is free checked bag and reasonable mileage awards, but to me the companion ticket isa joke.

  15. @ Lu

    People don’t fly Hainan as often because:

    1) Their routing are “sino-centric” in Asia, you can’t fly to as many places and take advantage of the free stopover onto another destination.

    2) You have to pay an extra $150 when booking Hainan using Alaska miles compared to Cathay.

    3) JAL flight attendants smile…

    None of these valid reasons are race/culture related, they are objective facts. Stop being so sensitive with your “glass heart”. You make Chinese people look bad.

  16. Having lived in China for 3 years, and having had two Chinese boyfriends (over relationships lasting 5 years in total), I don’t consider myself Sinophobic. I also don’t think that Hainan offers the same service standard as Cathay Pacific, another Chinese airline from a different Chinese city. Nor does China Eastern, China Southern or Air China.

    China Airlines from Taiwan, which China claims as its own, also offers a higher service standard. Obviously, it’s fair and reasonable to point this out.

    Can a mainland Chinese airline still get you where you’re going, safely, in a new and modern aircraft and in a lie flat seat? Yes. I don’t hesitate to book these myself or to put clients on these airlines. But I also don’t pretend that flying Hainan is the same as flying JAL.

  17. Alaska Airlines used to be the best airline for booking business class award tickets especially to Europe, thanks to its partnership with Delta and American, making a lot of sense to have its credit cards, both personal and business. Not any more: in the last few years, Alaska lost its partnership with Delta, and probably with Air France- KLM as well, while its relationship with American has clearly become quite strained. As a result, accumulating Alaska miles for using them to get business class award tickets to Europe on American has become virtually impossible, leaving one British Airways with its atrocious, almost a 1000 dollars one way award ticket fee, as the only option. (Granted, American provides plenty of award opportunities on Alaska for traveling to Europe in economy–but all know what it is traveling in economy these days!)

    Anyway, recently I’ve had a quite interesting chat with an Alaska’s customer service supervisor, who told me that the company apparently realizes that they’ve got a problem on the East Coast resulted from the loss of partnership with Delta and KLM- Air France. Hopefully, Alaska somehow finds a way to address this problem. In the meantime, I’m going to pass on getting a new Alaska credit card: right, now its miles have little use for me.

  18. “… you can use it for one-ways or roundtrips, the companion even earns miles and is eligible for upgrades, etc.You can also use it anywhere Alaska flights, from Hawaii, to Costa Rica, to Mexico.”

    @Lucky Just for clarification, upgrades with a companion certificate only apply if one of the travelers has MVPG+ status. An itinerary of two and only two pax is eligible for complimentary upgrades as a benefit of status if and only if one of the passengers is MVPG or higher. The other party need not have any status. The companion certificate simply lowers the second pax fare to $99 + taxes.

    @Jc

    “Companion is only eligible for upgrade if he/she has status! I have MVP and that usually gets me upgraded but when booking a companion fare we both got put into economy and neither one of us can be upgraded.”

    As explained above, an MVP is not eligible to upgrade a companion on the same itinerary whether paying the fare for both parties or paying the second fare with a companion certificate. That is not a benefit of MVP status. As the only person on an itinerary you are eligible for upgrades for yourself. Once you add a second passenger you cannot upgrade both pax while an MVPG+ Elite can. The other party need not have status. A gate agent can and will split a reservation and allow one party to move up to F. There are also reports of both an MVP and a non-status companion being upgraded at the gate. While not a listed benefit AS is good at recognizing status and in my experience would rather upgrade than depart with empty F seats while an Elite is in back.

    @ Gus says:

    “I find the companion ticket usually worthless. If I find a flight from point A to point B on alaska.com for $200 and then I try to use the companion ticket suddenly that price is not available and becomes a $300 ticket, saving me zero. A better perk is free checked bag and reasonable mileage awards, but to me the companion ticket isa joke.”

    It appears you are not optimizing the value of a certificate. I would never use a companion certificate for a simple A-B on a $200 fare. Maybe you would like to Visit Costa Rica and Hawaii on the same certificate. An itinerary of A-B-C-D….-A for $1200 is $1299 + taxes for two with the companion certificate saving $1101 on the second fare. You can even have open jaws.

    If you have status and purchase an eligible fare for your status or use a Gold Guest Upgrade where U space is available, or have no status with gifted Gold Guest upgrade certificates you can upgrade into F. The companion certificate can be extremely valuable.

    I have 5 accounts, 2 personal with BofA and 3 personal with MBNA Canada. I make good use out of them and my savings range between $700 & $1200 per certificate. They are great for mini vacation/mileage runs too. I have had itineraries that have earned 16K+ EQM each and spanned four countries with up to 10 segments and have upgraded up to three long distance flight with a single GGU each. (SJO-LAX-SEA-PVR)

    @Sam

    “As a result, accumulating Alaska miles for using them to get business class award tickets to Europe on American has become virtually impossible,”

    This is more a function of AA not providing Saver space to Europe on its own metal. AS has the same access to AA awards as AAdvantage members do, which unfortunately is close to nothing. I agree that the loss of DL has made Europe more challenging but with DL moving into Seattle as Frenemies, that relationship eroded to enemies and with DLs stake in KLM/Air France they had a say in that demise to AS as well leaving AS in a tough spot. Iceland Air, Finnair, Air Lingus and Condor are options.

    James

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