New Alaska Mileage Plan Bonus On Purchased Miles

Filed Under: Alaska, Great Deals
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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of my favorite programs to buy miles from, both thanks to the frequency with which they sell miles, and what a good deal their redemptions can be.

Historically they’ve typically had significant gaps between promotions on purchased miles, though now for the third time in a row they’re offering yet another back-to-back promotion. I guess they really want to sell miles!

What Is The Best Price For Buying Alaska Miles?

Through Thursday, October 31, 2019, Alaska is offering a bonus on the purchase of miles. Virtually all promotions are targeted, so different accounts will see different offers. My account shows a bonus of up to 40%. It’s likely that not everyone will see that, so you’ll have to log into your Mileage Plan account to see what your account shows.

The 40% bonus I see is structured 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

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. When they offer that deal, the price per purchased mile ranges from ~1.97 cents per mile with a 50% bonus, to ~2.19 cents per mile with a 35% bonus.

So if you’re eligible for a 40% bonus on purchased miles then you could buy 84,000 miles at a cost of $1,773.75, which is ~2.11 cents per mile.

The maximum number of miles you can purchase per transaction is 60,000 pre-bonus, and you can purchase a total of up to 150,000 miles per calendar year. However, if you’re an Alaska elite member there’s no limit to how many miles you can buy.

Who Should Buy Alaska Miles With A Bonus?

In general, you always want to think about how you’ll use these miles, and the potential value for converting your cash to points before you make any purchases.

Why Buying Alaska Miles Is A Good Deal

There are several unique elements to the Mileage Plan program, which means buying miles with Alaska can be a very good deal. I wouldn’t purchase miles for domestic economy flights in most cases, as the best values are typically for their international awards — make sure to check out my guide on the best uses of Alaska Airlines miles for more details and some examples of great values to be had.

Stopovers On One-Way Awards

This is something that makes Mileage Plan really unique, as Alaska allows stopovers even on one-way award tickets.

Flying from New York to Singapore via Hong Kong? You can stop in Hong Kong for a few days (for no additional miles).

Hyatt-Regency-Hong-Kong-27

Flying from Dallas to Dubai to the Maldives? You can stop in Dubai (again, for no additional miles).

Dubai-4

Flying from Los Angeles to Auckland via Fiji? You can stop in Fiji and have two vacations in one.

I can’t think of another lucrative frequent flyer program that offers complimentary stopovers on one-way awards booked on partner airlines.

Keep in mind this also means that if you’re flying roundtrip and booking as two one-ways, you can actually do two stopovers — one in each direction.

Generous Limits On How Many Miles You Can Buy

There are lots of people who frequently take advantage of these promotions, and one thing that has long made Alaska Mileage Plan unique is that they’ve had no limit on how many miles you can purchase. So while there was a limit on how many miles you could buy per transaction, you could make as many transactions as you’d like.

Alaska Mileage Plan now limits non-elite members to buying 150,000 miles per calendar year. Meanwhile elite Mileage Plan members (MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K) continue to not have a limit on how many miles they can buy.

Here’s how Alaska describes the terms for buying miles:

Your Mileage Plan account may be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles acquired through Points.com in a calendar year, whether purchased by you or gifted to you. MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K

So, why would Mileage Plan add a limit on how many miles you can buy? In reality they were probably making money on a vast majority of transactions, because even when you’re buying miles for the purposes of redeeming in first and business class on partner airlines, Alaska is only paying a fraction of the normal costs for these tickets.

My guess is that this limit was added due to the number of mileage brokers out there buying and selling miles. Airlines do everything they can to stop these people for a variety of reasons, and I’m guessing they found most people buying miles in big quantities were doing that. Of course this won’t be a foolproof solution, since those people can also get status.

I’d be curious to know to what extent this impacts the total number of miles they sell, but it shouldn’t impact most “regular” buyers.

Unique Airline Partners

Alaska doesn’t belong to any of the “big three” alliances, though they partner with some airlines that belong to oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance, as well as other unique, non-alliance carriers.

For example, Alaska partners with Emirates, Fiji Airways, Icelandair, and Hainan (which has excellent award availability).

How Many Alaska Miles Do I Need For One Of These Fancy Flights?

To give a few examples of some of the great uses of Mileage Plan miles (all of which allow stopovers on one-way awards):


Alaska miles are the best way to redeem for Cathay Pacific first class

In some cases, Alaska doesn’t have access to some partner award seats.

This is especially common on Cathay Pacific, Emirates, and Qantas. It is something to be aware of, so I’d recommend looking into this before buying any miles.

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

Other Ways To Earn Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

Of course, you don’t have to buy miles to take advantage of these deals — Alaska also offers two credit cards that can help you rack up points quickly:

Both offer welcome bonuses after completing a moderate minimum spend, along with Alaska’s famous Companion Fare, which lets you “buy one, get one for cheap” for economy flights on Alaska. This is one of the easiest companion tickets to use, and the main reason I keep the cards year after year.

Which Credit Card Should You Use?

Alaska mileage purchases are processed by points.com, meaning they don’t count as an airfare purchase for the purposes of credit card spend.

Therefore I’d recommend using a card on which you’re trying to reach a minimum spend, or otherwise, a credit card that maximizes your return on everyday spending, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) or Citi® Double Cash Card (review).

See this post for more on the best credit cards for buying points.


Redeem Alaska miles for LATAM business class

Bottom Line

Alaska has just rolled out a new promotion on purchased Mileage Plan miles, which is valid through the end of the month. The offer I see is for up to a 40% bonus, which is solid, though not as good as the 50% bonus they sometimes offer. This can be a great value, especially for redemptions in first class on Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas (if you can find availability), etc.

While I wouldn’t buy miles without a use in mind, there are so many great ways to redeem Alaska miles. I really can’t overstate how valuable the stopovers on one way awards are, not to mention some of the unique airline partners that Alaska has, all of which you can learn more about in my guide to the best uses of Alaska Airlines miles.

Do you plan on purchasing Alaska miles with this promotion?

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Comments
  1. Alaska miles is now close to useless. Redeem Emirates? Price hikes.
    Redeem Cathay Pacific? No award spaces in first class.
    Redeem Fiji Airways? Nope, absolutely nothing in awards.
    Redeem BA? Ridiculous fuel surcharge.
    Redeem JAL? They don’t even get all seats.
    I don’t think that one is very useful.

  2. @Andrew
    You can add Qantas to your list of airlines who don’t let Alaska sell premium seats to anywhere anymore.

  3. MMM – in the last year I have redeemed my miles for
    4 First Class Qantas awards (USA-Australia)
    2 Business Class Qantas Awards (Australia-USA)
    1 Business Class Fiji Airways Award (Australia- USA)
    1 Business Class Fiji Airways Award (Honolulu – NZ)
    2 Business Class Japan Airlines Award (USA- Philippines)

    You just need flexibility of time and do not be afraid to book mixed seat awards (then keep checking for seats to open up). I use Qantas website to look for available seats and I book WAY in advance.

    That said, I also flew over 200,000 revenue miles with Qantas, Fiji Airways, Cathay Pacific, Korean Airlines and Alaska Airlines in the past year (monthly Trans Pacifics).

  4. @David S: ‘monthly Trans Pacifics’: how do you handle the jet lag ? Aren’t you in jet lag 50% of your life?

    I was just in San Francisco for a 4 day trip (from Singapore) and still battling the jet lag after 3 days

  5. I’ve booked four CX first class US-HKG last year and 2 Jal first class US-China this year. Not sure why people are saying there’s no award space. It’s super easy to find available first class reward space when you are travelling alone.

  6. Alaska Cathay Award space is much easier to come by when you are flying solo. Unfortunately that really limits the pool of people who can use Alaska miles doesn’t it? Against all odds I booked four Business award seats from SFO to SIN on Cathay Business. But my experience was extremely frustrating. Finding award space for four on the way back has been impossible and I’ve had to resort to using different points and Singapore Kris awards to get us home(200K Alaska vs 380k Singapore) At most Alaska has 1-2 seats available in business(while BA shows 4 award seats available). Awards become pretty useless for people who are married and or have kids if you can find more than 1 award seat.

  7. @Tai not sure about others, but in my case because leaving from Australia (east coast) means landing in the US around the same time as I depart, I just go straight to sleep (if landing in the evening) and problem solved. It’s Aus-Europe which kills me jet lag wise, transpacific is a dream in comparison.

  8. I was searching for the previous Alaska promo’s with a 50% bonus and every single link from the old posts redirects me to this one.
    I don’t know if this is a new policy or “enhancement” from the blog, but it’s quite annoying not being able to read old content for some specific reasons.

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