Buy Alaska Airlines Miles At Lowest Cost Ever (Extended)

Filed Under: Alaska, Alaska Mileage Plan
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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.

Last week Alaska Mileage Plan launched their latest promotion on purchased miles. This is in line with their best offer ever, which we only saw once before.

This promotion was supposed to expire yesterday, but this is a heads up that it has just been extended for an additional two days. If you were interested in buying miles but haven’t yet done so, you have until tomorrow.

What Is The Best Price For Buying Alaska Miles?

Through Tuesday, June 30, 2020, Alaska is offering a bonus on the purchase of miles. Generally Alaska’s bonuses on purchased miles are targeted, so different accounts may see different offers.

In this case I’m targeted for up to a 60% bonus on purchased miles, which is huge. Prior to this spring, the biggest bonus we ever saw on purchased miles was for 50%.

Others may see a different bonus, so you’ll have to log into your Mileage Plan account to see what your account shows. Presumably some people who weren’t targeted for a 60% bonus last time will be targeted for it this time around.

My version of the promotion is tiered, as follows:

  • Buy 5,000-39,000 miles, get a 40% bonus
  • Buy 40,000-100,000 miles, get a 60% 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 with a 50% bonus, to ~2.19 cents with a 35% bonus.

This 60% bonus offers a significantly lower cost. If you’re eligible for a 60% bonus on purchased miles then you could buy 160,000 miles at a cost of $2,750, which is ~1.72 cents per mile.

Not only is Alaska offering the biggest bonus ever on purchased miles, but there also currently aren’t any federal excise taxes on buying points, lowering the cost even more.

The maximum number of miles you can purchase per transaction is 100,000 pre-bonus (this is new, because the maximum used to be 60,000), 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 most one-way award tickets.

Do note that they recently added restrictions to this, though, and they no longer allow stopovers on awards within Asia (though they do allow stopovers on awards between Asia and other regions).

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. 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 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

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 Mileage Plan’s current promotion potentially offers the lowest cost we’ve ever seen on purchased Mileage Plan miles. We saw a 60% bonus last month, but prior to that we had never seen a bonus like that before. Not only that, but you don’t have to pay federal excise taxes on buying miles at the moment, lowering the cost even further.

In general I wouldn’t recommend buying miles speculatively right now, but this is also a really good price on Alaska miles, given that there are several great ways to redeem Alaska miles.

I really can’t overstate how valuable the stopovers on most 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.

If you’ve been considering this promotion but haven’t yet made a purchase, the good news is that the promotion has been extended by two days, so you have until tomorrow.

Do you plan on purchasing Alaska miles with this promotion?

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Comments
  1. @ Ben — Only a crazy person would buy miles at this price at this time. Sure, at 1.0 cpm, maybe, but at basically full value, no way.

  2. You forgot the section on the American partnership and how Alaska miles are likely to be devalued significantly when they join OneWorld. Isn’t that something readers should know about as part of this promotion?

  3. Was interested in purchasing for an intra-Asia SQ F redemption, but a) I only qualified for a 50% bonus, and b) I can’t seem to find any more SQ F availability on AS’s website, whereas previously it seemed to be widely available on popular routes like HKG-SIN. Did something change in their partnership/availability trends? J is available on every flight but I didn’t find a single one in F…

  4. Mine says 50% bonus, for 30k to 100k purchased miles.
    I think it used to be that you could only purchase maximum 60k miles per transactions without bonuses, but now up to 100k.

  5. David is correct this mess with AA will certainly cause a devaluation many of us long time AS FF are not real happy being partnered with AA especially since it appears Parker is not going anywhere fast. Buying any miles from any airline is crazy with all the uncertainty in the market.
    I’m crazy sitting on the amount of points I have now having said that two long haul international trips have been cancelled so those points are back sitting there waiting for a “haircut”

  6. Hard to imagine anybody making an economically rational decision to buy miles today. These prices are nowhere near low enough to make me bite on buying miles I don’t know when I’ll be able to use, for services that don’t even really exist at the moment, to go to places where I’m not even allowed to enter presently, and have no idea when any of that will change.

  7. Do you think there’s going to be a significant devaluation to Alaska miles once they join Oneworld? I got a mailer from them the other day with a 50k signup bonus on their cc. That plus this sale makes me think they know something we don’t…

  8. They will be cheaper next sale i suspect

    This is worth repeating: These prices are nowhere near low enough to make me bite on buying miles I don’t know when I’ll be able to use, for services that don’t even really exist at the moment, to go to places where I’m not even allowed to enter presently, and have no idea when any of that will change.

  9. Hello Lucky,

    Do you think hotel chains will roll out similar promotions?

    Looks that airlines are offering “best ever” promotions but cant see anything from hotel programs?!

    Are they waiting for something or do not need cash as much as airlines?

  10. You know at this current situation, for speculative buying you are better off buying Alaska Air Group (or just any airlines) stocks over miles.

    Consider this as a warning when you see airlines selling miles at “Lowest Cost Ever”. In the next few months if you see AS topping this Lowest Cost Ever, you just converted your miles into wine (you need a lot of drink).

  11. Risk higher, return higher. Better value? Ben’s admonition against speculative points purchases fits my situation. Nice price, I’ll pass.

  12. Same question as M. Seems odd to say there are no more taxes without knowing how much we are saving here.

  13. Sweet, got 60%. I’ve been buying miles once a year. Have until 5.31 to take advantage of this deal. Will wait till very end to see how pandemic pans out further.

  14. If you are not an elite member, then you need to be careful not to purchase more than points.com can put into your Mileage Plan account. From T&Cs: “Your Mileage Plan account may be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles acquired through Points.com in a calendar year,” I have a 60% bonus offer, but if I buy 100,000 miles, I’ll still be limited to 150,000 put into my Mileage Plan account.

    Here are the full Terms and Conditions that Points.com had for my offer:

    Transactions must be completed by 11:59 PM PST May 31, 2020 to be eligible for bonus miles.
    Miles are purchased from Points.com Inc. for a cost of $27.50 per 1,000 miles, plus GST/HST for Canadian residents.
    Miles are non-refundable and do not count toward MVP and MVP/Gold status.
    You may purchase and gift Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles in increments of 1,000 miles up to 60,000 miles, and in increments of 5,000 miles up to a maximum of 100,000 miles per transaction.
    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 Mileage Plan member accounts have no annual limit on the number of miles which may be purchased or gifted through Points.com.
    Offer is subject to change and all terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan Program apply.

  15. So, Alaska, is 40% meant to tempt me??
    With a quarter mil. sitting in my a/c, I don’t need any more, don’t want anymore, so you can stick your offer where the sun don’t shine!!

  16. @M, @Mark P.

    The Excise Tax is 7.5% just like the Excise Tax on airfares. The tax has been waived through January 1st, 2021 under a provision in the CARES act.

    In the US, airfares are shown all-inclusive so you wouldn’t immediately see that you are saving $7.50 per $100 of the base airfare.

    I have never been a buyer of MP Miles. I earn RDM below the unbonused purchase price and often below a 50% bonus targeted promotion. You can’t buy Elite Qualifying Miles for status so a small premium earning over purchasing miles, especially without a revenue component or flying AS metal a requirement, makes perfect “cents.”

    I am always a Flyer, never a Buyer. When attaing MVPG75K AS shows their appreciation with an additional 50,000 mile bonus. Not only does that lower your CPM cost of your acquired RDM Miles, it is akin to a gift of a one-way CX J award to/from Asia with connecting service from/to the Partner gateway. I can add 10K for Australia, 12.5K for South Africa or 20K for South Africa with a TPAC F.

    I was targeted at 40%

  17. Any purchase of miles, in any program at the current time, is ‘speculative’ with a capital ‘S’ !
    Who know what will come out of this crisis; the variables are endless, and none of them pretty.
    The Golden Era of flying is over.

  18. I just bought 100,000 miles on my wife’s account at a 50% bonus. I have already maxed out my account this year otherwise I had 60% too bad. Anyway booked 2 OW business first tickets on Cathay and AS Cebu to Anchorage via JFK with a 20 hour layover there so we can take a city day tour.

  19. 40% only for me (I’ve bought multiple times in the past before the devaluations).
    Won’t purchase at this price. I would buy at 100% but not below, especially now.

  20. 50% for me so not buying. Agree with Tai needs to be 100% to be even worth any risk. Also got wonder if it’s not time to offload the Airline CC’s with annual fee’s given the airline industry will be in the doldrums for 2 years and convert any air miles to hotel points for local domestic (drivable) vacations. With Virgin Australia going under and others carriers to follow (maybe even one of the big US three once the bailout funds run out) are airline miles just starting to become just an expensive short term liability?

  21. I’ve got a 40% bonus and the maths stacks up for 2 OW J seats LHR-HKG. Just a shame there isn’t actually any reward seats currently available.

  22. I got 40%:

    Enjoy bonus miles on your purchase through May 31, 2020.
    Buy 3,000 – 14,000 miles, get a 20% bonus
    Buy 15,000 – 100,000 miles, get a 40% bonus

    Even if it was 100% bonus, it would still be not worth it.

  23. Only 40% for me!!!!! Never seen to get higher bonus then that…. for some odd reason

  24. Ben, the 45,000 Business award on LATAM is nothing more than a bait and switch strategy by Alaska… LATAM never releases any space to Alaska though they have no issue releasing to Delta now.

  25. This article needs updates. For example, I am not sure Hainan is even flying. LANTAM is under bankruptcy. Fiji just cut down its service by half or something. It’s, well, depressing time for Alaska miles.

  26. what’s Alaska’s current lap-child policy on partner award tickets? The website says they can’t be booked by alaska, so i’m assuming i have to call the partner airline to book them? And how would this work with a stop-over on a one way ticket?

  27. Also only 40% bonus for me. For those hoping to redeem for first class, not happening soon. Cathay just downgraded my July ticket from JFK from F to J, seems to be switching to A350 also from SFO and LAX. SQ now rostered their A350 to FRA-JFK, for July, so no more suites 🙁 August still shows A380 but 0 F availability

  28. @Peter, unfortunately that is going to be the new reality for some time. There are a lot of CX 777Ws parked/stored right now and probably too much capacity initially for TPAC flights, especially if you can’t enter HKG in July or you are barred from entering the final destination country if transitting HKG. Not to mention what a HKG transit might look like. Will pre-flight testing be required, being sequestered in HKG and taken to the gate just before departure a possibility, no lounge access? Will SIN accept you for a stay? If not, you won’t be able to board, if there is a flight to board. A cancellation for July travel is very likely since there won’t be any O/D traffic if HKG entry is prohibited. Where can you transfer to? As of now, Singapore, no, Japan, no, Australia, maybe October South Africa February 2021 forecasted. Border openings will be to add a bubble to the mix, not a free-for all for anyone from anywhere. Your downgrade might be irrelevant. If you can fly, the experience will be very much diminished from the pre COVID-19 experience. Good luck, I hope it works out.

    James

  29. @ Jorge — Yep! The partner carriers can still price the infant tickets even with a stopover.

  30. With the current CAD$ exchange rate it is no better a deal than past deals if you are Canadian.

  31. I respect Alaska for keeping value in its program, unlike United, American and (worst of all) Delta. That being said, it’s hard to justify 1.7 cents per mile when foreign carriers are selling at 1.0 to 1.3 cents per mile, from time to time.

  32. I would normally be insulted by a risable 40% offer, but this time it’s a “so what?”, since I am sitting on a 6 figure unallocated stash with no international travel permitted from Australia until year’s end.
    Cathay Pacific F cabin is my favourite redemption, but really, who knows what sort of airline will emerge from the pandemic and the China takeover? Doesn’t look good from where I’m sitting.

  33. @Gene I completely disagree unless you are unable to effectively use them, as it sounds like may be the case considering your statement. Alaska Miles are pretty difficult to acquire & very valuable on international upper classes. Buying them at a 60% discount is probably the most effective current acquisition strategy. As a point of comparison, if you were using a 3% cashback credit card on unlimited general spending in the first year (there are at least a few), you’re talking about a card that can essentially get 1.72 Alaska Miles per $ on general spending up to the mileage purchase cap if you get enough cashback for such a purchase. No card comes close to that to get Alaskan Miles without a purchase on general spending. Alaska Miles are highly valued for a reason, and while I personally have not had a good use for them since acquiring my first ones, those uses are present and you shouldn’t redeem any miles until a solid redemption can be had depending on your goals.

  34. Also with my last statement, I’m assuming the 60% bonus. I personally only got a 50% bonus.

  35. Offered 40%. Nope

    AS quit flying to YLW so no hope of any redemptions until they start flying. They seem to be offering space in January so it might be possible to find a good flight but nothing shows for Maldives other than BA with almost $1000 YQ. Not going with BA for sure. (Just got a note from them stating terms and conditions of the Avios club now prevent us from taking legal or class action suits against BA if we ever use a point – automatic inclusion. Hmm – what’s in the works here?)

    Must admit that with a few HUKAs I was able to get a credit card refund for flight to and from YLW to SFO. But it took a 23:59 call to the supervisor to get the last flight refunded and, believe it or not, an apology. Still don’t have the $$ as far as I know but the first refund happened within 5 days.

    I wonder if filing a DOT complaint had anything to do with it? (as a Canadian who could not cross the border or whose connecting flight was cancelled months ago)

    Anyway – the refund was appreciated. Would have rather flown to SFO to see friends but that’s not AS fault.

  36. @Azamaraal

    40% Bonus for me too and also in YLW. AS won’t return to YLW until the 14-day quarentine is lifted which could be as late as October. YVR is a designated international arrival airport, one of only 5 in Canada.

    I love to fly. I am always a flyer, never a buyer of AS miles. Even with a 60% bonus, I still wouldn’t buy AS Miles. You can’t buy Elite Qualifying Miles. My goal is always to earn EQM at around 5 cpm which is 2.22 cpm for RDM. I am happy to pay a 0.5 cpm premium to fly and earn status. Between January 12 and April 4th, I flew 100.5K miles including 2 QF J awards. I earn over 300K AS RDM annually. No need to buy. I have flown QF, EK, BA, CX & JL First with AS redemptions. BA stands for Bloody Awful, btw.

    A 3% cash back card is attractive. Is that a CAD or USD account? If CAD, what is the forex fee? That could nearly wipe out any advantage. I use the MBNA AS co-branded Mastercard for everyday spend. You earn 1 MP mile for each CAD $1 (USD $0.73) spend. In essence a 38% bonus at today’s exchange rate. The annual companion certificate is very valuable too. I have saved in excess of $1000 on some itineraries and using upgrade certificates to fly in F.

    If anything, anyone who may have miles close to expiring, a small purchase would be a good way to reset your 24 month timer on your account.

    James

  37. @James

    Can’t agree more!
    Lucky you are in YLW! The beautiful city even with a Hyatt Unbound collection.
    Not even mention the wine and food!

    I will rate JL- CX- EK=QF as F experience!
    Really nice strategy to get you AS status and miles, unfortunately, for Canadians like me without an AS served airport, really challenging.

  38. I would expect premium fare opportunities for purchased tickets to be the best ever over the next couple years, and likely a better value once FFP status and earned mileage are factored in. Putting any $ in any program via purchased miles seems risky at current pricing (and particularly so with Alaska).

  39. I’m a bit surprised that nobody has mentioned this but even though I’ve utilized Alaska miles many times I just see limited value here. Traditionally, you could get really good value with Alaska flying as a couple in first class to or from Asia with Cathay or JAL. Cathay recently started restricting partner first class redemptions to one seat per flight, so they would rather have first class go out mostly empty than allow a second partner redemption for a second seat. JAL has seemingly killed of all first class partner redemptions starting in April. These two redemptions were hands down the best way to use Alaska miles and they’re both recently gone. With the best redemption options wiped out, the value proposition for the program becomes a lot more dubious. That makes buying miles a lot more iffy. Do you really want to invest in something that whittles down your value that quickly? I wouldn’t. I say this as someone who is sitting on hundreds of thousands of Alaska miles.

  40. 50%- Nope.

    In March I booked 2 first class JAL ORD-TYO-SIN redemptions for Spring 2021, and I think I’m done. (Award space was wide open at the time).

  41. Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping portal has bonus 500 miles for $200 purchase until 7/1/20

    Normally I don’t do these, but when I looked, one of the vendors Motley Fool investment newsletter has a super special $99 for 1 year (1/2 price) and 4700 Alaska bonus miles!

    So if interested just need another $101 to unlock the 500 bonus.

  42. 40% last time, 50% this time; still a long way to go to 100% to tempt me! Also, available awards that don’t include USA (off my agenda for 18-24 months at least) are few, and already having difficulty using the 250,000 I’m sitting on.

  43. Is it just me or All the Flights on Emirates in Asia have gone “Mixed Seating Flights” so Basically,The short distance is Business and the Long distance,DXB to Sfo,Lax, JFK,etc are Coach even when you are paying Business Class Points?

  44. @Mike~ that mixed seating con has been going on at Alaska for ages, exactly as you describe. It’s more endemic than coronavirus (and just as welcome) through their whole awards schedule. Unfortunately, some unwary members don’t understand it and fall for it, and are bitterly disappointed (and having murderous thoughts about the charletans running MileagePlan) when they are stuck in a Y seat on an overnight long-haul flight.
    Alaska MP is not alone doing this, Qantas does it too, but Alaska gets the wooden spoon for being the most blatant offender.

  45. @glenn t: Thanks,now I need to see if it’s worth Buying points with 60% off! Europe is asking too much cash with points.

  46. As about half my travel is solo, I’m quite tempted — dual seat award availability means close to nil for me. We’ll see how I fee later this afternoon

  47. Ben, I dont understand why you chose a non-Alaska Airlines photo to headline an Alaska Airlines article?

  48. World is closed! I don’t think we will be able to travel freely for the next few years. Racking miles isn’t the best time to spend our money, sorry Alaska. But please sell at the amazing price again when the vaccine is here.

  49. Nice deal but pointless to buy when no one want to open their borders to Americans.

    Buy pile of miles, then unable to travel and inevitable devaluation will come up. I’ll pass. Terrible year for travelers…

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