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Since late May, 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, the clock is ticking. Alaska’s current bonus on purchased miles ends tomorrow, Friday, July 13, 2018. Alaska is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles, tiered as follows:
- Buy 10,000-19,000 miles, receive a 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000-49,000 miles, receive a 35% bonus
- Buy 50,000+ miles, receive 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, so this is right in the middle (the most recent promotion they had was in March, 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?
A while back 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 that make Mileage Plan miles so valuable:
- You’re allowed a free stopover, even on a one-way award
- 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 now partners with Japan Airlines, so redeeming Alaska miles for JAL first & business class is an exceptional value
- Redemption rates in Emirates business class are still reasonable, which is a great way to get to many regions, including India, Africa, Asia, etc.
Redeeming Alaska miles for Emirates A380 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:
Redeem Alaska miles for Hainan Airlines business class
One useful alternative
Through July 20, 2018, Starwood is offering a 35% discount on purchased Starpoints when you buy at least 5,000 points in one transaction. This is an opportunity to buy Starpoints for just 2.275 cents each. Starpoints convert into Alaska miles at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. This means you could buy 20,000 Starpoints for $455, and that could be converted into 25,000 Alaska miles, which is just 1.82 cents per Alaska mile.
So, what’s the catch?
- The transfers aren’t instant, so expect for it to take a few days for the miles to post
- You’re limited to buying 30,000 Starpoints per account per calendar year, meaning the most practical number of miles you could generate is 25,000 (by buying 20,000 Starpoints)
If you haven’t maxed out your limited on purchased Starpoints for the year, buying Starpointscould be a good place to start.
This is your last chance to buy Alaska miles with the current 40% bonus. While I wouldn’t recommend buying miles without a use in mind, this can represent an excellent deal if you have a partner airline premium cabin redemption in mind. There are so many great uses of Mileage Plan miles, especially if you can take advantage of doing a stopover on a one-way award, etc.