Last Chance: Buy Alaska Miles With 50% Bonus (Best Price This Year!)

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.

In mid-April Alaska Mileage Plan launched their best promotion of the year on purchased miles. If you’ve been considering this promotion but haven’t pulled the trigger, note that it expires on May 19, 2019, so you have just two days remaining to take advantage of this offer.

What is the best price for buying Alaska miles?

Alaska Mileage Plan is offering a bonus of up to 50% on purchased miles, which goes through May 19, 2019.

This bonus is tiered, so you get a larger bonus the more miles you buy:

  • Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles = 20% bonus
  • Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles = 35% bonus
  • Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles = 50% bonus

I can’t guarantee this is the promotion that will be available to everyone, as you do have to log into your Mileage Plan account to see the offer. However, that’s the offer for all the accounts I manage, so I’m guessing that’s just the standard offer. Feel free to check the offer on your own account, and please report back if it’s different.

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. A 50% bonus is as good as it gets.

This is the third promotion on purchased miles of 2019, and both of the previous promos have been for a bonus of up to 40%, so this is really the time to buy.

If you buy miles with a 50% bonus you’ll end up paying ~1.97 cents per mile. If you maxed out the promo, you would receive 90,000 miles for $1,773.75.

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 50% 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 which 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 which belong to both oneworld and SkyTeam, as some 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 spend, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Citi® Double Cash Card (The best credit cards for buying points and miles.)


Redeem Alaska miles for LATAM business class

Bottom line

Buying Alaska miles can be a great value, and a 50% bonus is the ideal time to buy. This can be an incredible value 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 buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles with a 50% bonus?

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Comments

  1. Do we find availability and book on the Alaska website, or does the Alaska website only show Alaska flights?

  2. @Scott, you can find all partner space on Alaska’s website with the exception of Cathay Pacific and LATAM

  3. Does the 150K annual limit include or exclude bonuses ? Assuming it includes it based on the wording.

  4. @AC,

    Excludes the bonus. I asked this specifically and got the following reply:

    “The bonus miles are separate. The cap is for purchased miles only. -Jordan”

  5. last time I bought IHG points (via points.com) it coded as “office supply store”. Any data points if this results in triggering that bonus category on the right card?

  6. @NOAH not if you have a specific use in mind and are note VERY flexible. Award space can be EXTREMELY difficult and sometimes impossible to come by for international business class on certain partners (American, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qantas).

    Generally not a good idea to prospectively “invest” in miles as you can be assured they will devalue over time.

  7. Does anyone else have problems commenting on the site of Herr Klint? Since yesterday the comment section seems blocked.

  8. I’ve bought every time there was a promotion of a 40 percent bonus and I am sitting on a ton of points. The only redemption I have ever been successful for was a same-day from from Nashville to Amsterdam via PHL in economy.

  9. @ Jas — Miles expire after 24 months of inactivity, though any activity will extend the expiration date.

  10. Why is there discrepancies of the cost of miles?
    I tried buying 40K, it was $1206 and my sis and friend paying $1184.
    I tried again on 60K, it was $1809, and it was $1773 for them…

    Anyone have this problem?
    Thank you

  11. @Jas, are you purchasing outside the US? It looks like there is an additional GST/HST for Canadian residents.

  12. Yes outside US, but all of us buying from same country (SG).
    Don’t understand why like that…

  13. Can Alaska miles used by non-USA resident for partner airlines where the route originated from outside-USA?

  14. @lucky or anyone else. Based on past data, do they have more than one 50% bonus sales per year? It’s just a little too speculative at this point for me right now, but that could change in a few months.

    Thanks ahead of time.

  15. Anyone have a suggestion for using Alaska miles?

    I was looking at going to Europe with my wife in business class. I couldn’t find a single seat on any American Airlines flight. Finnair only had a couple of dates from JFK for the whole year to Europe. I didn’t really want to fly Condor as 55K miles for a slated seat plus a few hundred dollars in fees. BA was over $1000 per ticket in fees.

    After spending about 3hours searching every single date for the next year (I am pretty flexible) BA at over $2000 plus the miles was the only reasonable return trip I could build. Any suggestions?

  16. @Andrew, I think AMEX airline credit not apply since it’s processed by points.com and not Alaska Airlines themselves.

    @greg, there are few great uses for Alaska miles I can think of. If you’re looking to book Qantas to go to Australia using premium cabin. If you’re wanting to visit Asia, then JAL or Cathay Pacific in their premium cabins offer great value. All of those options offer free stopovers as well in any hub cities on the way, for example: LAX – SYD – MEL (with stopover in Sydney) on Qantas, ORD – NRT – BKK (with stopover in Tokyo) on JAL, JFK (- YVR) – HKG – SIN (with stopover in either YVR or HKG).
    Qantas and JAL flights can be directly searched and booked on Alaska Air website or app, while Cathay requires you to search the flight separately (on British Airways award search) then calling them to book it via phone.

  17. I never see business or first availability on any carriers for 2 people.

    To me these miles are worthless. Worse than Skypesos.

    Maybe I’m missing something?

  18. I never see business or first availability on any carriers for 2 people.

    To me these miles are worthless. Worse than Skypesos.

    Maybe I’m missing something?

  19. Anyone knows when can I start to buy miles? I open my account on 7/5/19 (SG) I tried buying on the 17/5/19 (SG) it didn’t credit in the miles

  20. Can you use your Alaska bofa credit card to purchase these point to hit the minimum bonus point requirement?

  21. It’s not that easy to use the miles. I have a hard time using them on Emirates or JAL unless you’re completely flexible. BA? forget about it.. its a scam with mixed itinerary and big fees. Cathay Pacific is a joke you have to call and there’s slim pickings. And using them on Alaska is not worth it either. Just my experience from the last few years.

  22. Just to counter some of the naysayers, I’ve gotten very good value from Alaska miles. However, I don’t buy speculatively… I look for the awards I want first (have redeemed for both Cathay and JAL), find the inventory, purchase points, and then book immediately after. If the award seats don’t exist, then I look and book elsewhere. Alaska miles aren’t the end-all of currencies, but it’s definitely a great option when it works, and even better if you have flexibility with dates and destinations.

  23. AS is a good airline with a good loyalty program, but but my rule of thumb re purchasing miles is to only purchase the needed shortfall for an immediately planned redemption.

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