Often buying points strategically can be a good value, and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of my favorite programs to buy miles from, both thanks to the frequency with which the program sells miles, and what a good deal award redemptions can be.
Alaska Mileage Plan has just launched its first promotion of the year on purchasing miles, and it’s among the best offers we see from the program. Let’s go over all the details.
In this post:
Promotion on purchased Alaska Mileage Plan miles
Through Saturday, February 24, 2024, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program is offering a bonus on purchased miles. Sometimes different Mileage Plan members are targeted for different bonuses, so you’ll have to log into your account to see what you’re eligible for. Based on the accounts I manage, it would appear that the standard bonus is for up to 60%, as follows:
- Buy 3,000-19,000 miles, get a 40% bonus
- Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get a 50% bonus
- Buy 40,000-100,000 miles, get a 60% bonus
How much does it cost to buy Alaska Mileage Plan miles?
Ordinarily you can buy Alaska Mileage Plan miles for 2.75 cents each pre-tax, before any discounts or bonuses. If you were eligible for the 60% bonus and purchased 100,000 Mileage Plan miles pre-bonus, you’d receive a total of 160,000 Mileage Plan miles at a cost of $2,956.25, which is a rate of 1.85 cents per Mileage Plan mile.
Typically when we see promotions on purchased Alaska miles, the bonus is in the range of 40-60%. So a 60% bonus is among the best offers we see from Mileage Plan.
How many Mileage Plan miles can you purchase?
The number of Alaska miles you can buy depends on your status:
- Alaska Mileage Plan elite members (MVP, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K) can purchase an unlimited number of miles
- Alaska Mileage Plan non-elite members can purchase up to 150,000 miles per calendar year; that limit doesn’t include the bonus miles
Note that in all cases you’re limited to purchasing 100,000 Mileage Plan miles per transaction (pre-bonus), though you can always make multiple transactions. Furthermore, you can only purchase miles if you’ve been a member of Mileage Plan for at least 10 days.
Which credit card should you buy Mileage Plan miles with?
Alaska Mileage Plan mileage purchases are processed by points.com, meaning they don’t count as an airfare purchase for the purposes of credit card spending.
Therefore I’d recommend using a card on which you’re trying to reach a minimum spending requirement, or otherwise, a credit card that maximizes your return on everyday spending, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review), Citi Double Cash® Card (review), or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (review) (Rates & Fees).
See this post for more on which credit cards are best for buying points.
Is buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles worth it?
There are so many things to love about Alaska Mileage Plan miles:
- Alaska Mileage Plan has among the most reasonable premium cabin redemption rates you’ll find out there for travel on many partner airlines; unfortunately some of the new redemption partners added in recent months don’t offer the same value
- Alaska Mileage Plan has a unique array of airline partners — the airline belongs to the oneworld alliance so has lots of partners within the alliance, but also has several non-oneworld partners, ranging from Condor, to Fiji Airways, to Icelandair, to LATAM, to Singapore Airlines
- Alaska Mileage Plan allows stopovers on award tickets, which most programs don’t allow nowadays; this can stretch your miles a lot further
- Miles are sold at a reasonable price and can be bought in large quantities, making this a great program for “starting from scratch” and saving money on a premium international ticket
So yes, I think there are many situations where there’s huge value in buying Mileage Plan miles, especially if you find premium cabin award space on airlines like Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas, etc.
On what airlines can you redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles?
Currently it’s possible to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles on the following partner airlines:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Tahiti Nui
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- EL AL
- Fiji Airways
- Hainan Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Korean Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian
- Singapore Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
- Starlux Airlines
What are good uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles?
There are so many incredible uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles, so let me give some examples of one-way redemption rates:
- Between the United States and Asia, you can fly Cathay Pacific first class for 70,000 miles, or Cathay Pacific business class for 50,000 miles
- Between the United States and Japan, you can fly Japan Airlines first class starting at 85,000 miles, or Japan Airlines business class starting at 60,000 miles
- Between the United States and Australia or New Zealand, you can fly Fiji Airways business class for 55,000 miles
- Between the United States and Australia, you can fly Qantas first class for 70,000 miles, or Qantas business class for 55,000 miles
- Between the United States and Tahiti, you can fly Air Tahiti Nui business class for 60,000 miles
- Between the United States and Europe, you can fly Condor business class for 55,000 miles
- Between the United States and Europe, you can fly Icelandair business class for 55,000 miles
- Between the United States and Europe, you can fly Aer Lingus business class for 60,000 miles
- Between the United States and Europe, you can fly Finnair business class for 70,000 miles
- Between the United States and South America, you can fly LATAM business class for 45,000 miles
Those are just some of the great ways to redeem Mileage Plan miles, and as I’ll explain below, it doesn’t fully do justice to how much value you can potentially get with these miles.
Tip: Take advantage of Alaska’s generous stopover policy
One of my favorite aspects of Alaska Mileage Plan miles is that you’re allowed a stopover on a partner award ticket without paying additional miles. Since you’re allowed a stopover even on a one-way, this means you could have two stopovers on a roundtrip award.
Nowadays most airline loyalty programs have eliminated free stopovers on award tickets, so this is something that really sets the program apart. The only exception is that stopovers aren’t allowed if your award is exclusively for travel within Asia.
This is such an awesome and underrated benefit, as the potential here is huge:
- Flying from New York to Bali via Hong Kong? You can stop in Hong Kong for a few days!
- Flying from Chicago to Singapore via Tokyo? You can stop in Japan for a few days!
- Flying from Los Angeles to Sydney via Nadi? You can stop in Fiji for a few days!
- Flying from Seattle to Frankfurt via Keflavik? You can stop in Iceland for a few days!
- Flying from Miami to Santiago via Lima? You can stop in Peru for a few days!
Are there fuel surcharges on Alaska Mileage Plan awards?
Many consumers are frustrated by the practice of airlines adding carrier imposed surcharges to award tickets. In the case of Mileage Plan, most partners don’t have these surcharges. However, there are surcharges for travel on British Airways, Hainan Airlines, and Icelandair, which is something to keep in mind.
How much are Alaska Mileage Plan miles worth?
Everyone will value mileage currencies differently, but personally I value Alaska Mileage Plan miles at ~1.5 cents each, which is in line with the highest I value any single airline mileage currency. I tend to value points pretty conservatively, and there are many ways to get more value from Mileage Plan miles than that (as I’ve hopefully demonstrated above).
Do Alaska Mileage Plan miles expire?
Alaska Mileage Plan miles don’t expire as long as you have at least some account activity once every 24 months. Account activity could include earning or redeeming miles.
What other ways can you earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles?
There are several ways to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles, both through flying and non-flying means. Alaska Mileage Plan isn’t transfer partners with one of the major transferable points currencies, so the easiest way to earn Alaska miles is with one of the co-branded credit cards, which include the:
Alaska Mileage Plan is one of the most lucrative loyalty programs to buy miles from, thanks to the excellent redemption rates, stopovers on one-way awards, and variety of partners.
Mileage Plan is offering a bonus of up to 60% on purchased miles, which is an opportunity to pick up miles for around 1.85 cents each. There’s lots of value to be had with this offer if you’re being strategic, though admittedly not all sweet spots are as good as they used to. Everyone should crunch the numbers for themselves, and I’d only make a purchase with a specific use in mind.
Do you plan on purchasing Alaska Mileage Plan miles with this promotion?