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Since mid-January, Alaska Mileage Plan has been offering a bonus on purchased miles. I consider Alaska Mileage Plan miles to be one of the most valuable mileage currencies out there, so with a specific use in mind I think buying Alaska miles can be a great deal.
If you’ve been considering buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles under the current promotion, the clock is ticking. Alaska’s current bonus on purchased miles ends in just a couple of days, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. While you need to log-in to see the bonus, the promotion for most people seems to be for a 40% bonus when you buy at least 20,000 miles in one transaction.
What’s the cost to purchase miles through this promo?
Historically Alaska Mileage Plan seems to offer anywhere between 35% and 50% bonuses on purchased miles, so this is right in the middle (the most recent promotion they had was in December, when they also offered up to 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.
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?
In the past 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)
- Alaska partners with Japan Airlines, so redeeming Alaska miles for JAL first & business class is an exceptional value
- Redemption rates in Emirates business class are reasonable, which is a great way to get to many regions, including India, Africa, Asia, etc.
Redeeming Alaska miles for Emirates 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 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.
Redeem Alaska miles for Japan Airlines first class
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 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Citi® Double Cash Card, etc.
Redeem Alaska miles for Hainan Airlines business class
One way to buy Alaska Mileage Plan miles for even less
Through March 16, 2018, Starwood is offering up to a 35% discount on the purchase of Starpoints. This is an opportunity to purchase Starpoints for as little as 2.275 cents each. Starpoints convert into Alaska miles at a 1:1 ratio, and you get a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred, meaning that you can acquire Alaska miles this way for as little as 1.82 cents each.
What’s the catch? Starpoints don’t convert into Alaska Miles instantly, meaning that it could take a couple of weeks until you actually have Alaska miles. Furthermore, you’re limited to purchasing 30,000 Starpoints per account per calendar year, meaning that the only way to achieve the cost of 1.82 cents per Alaska mile is to purchase exactly 20,000 Starpoints, as that would convert into 25,000 Alaska miles (you only get the 5,000 point bonus when converting in 20,000 point increments).
See my previous post for full details on this promotion.
This is your last chance to buy Alaska miles with the current 40% bonus. While it won’t be for everyone, Alaska Mileage Plan is one of the most popular points currencies out there for buying points, and for good reason. They have great partners, lucrative redemption rates, and allow stopovers on one-way awards. Just keep in mind that SPG is also selling points for 35% off, which could also represent a great deal.