Alaska Airlines is a well-respected airline that allows you to fly across the western U.S. at a discount, although they also fly across North America and even to Canada and Mexico. And there’s even an Alaska Airlines credit card. You will like the Alaska Airlines credit card if you want to enjoy their famous Companion Fare, for its sign-up bonus, free checked bags, and not to mention earning bonus points on every Alaska Airlines purchase. But should you apply for the Alaska Airlines credit card?
Alaska Airlines Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus
You can earn 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days. Economy class award flights within the continental U.S. start at 5,000 miles each way. At that rate, the bonus will give you three round trips.
For a limited time, you will also have the opportunity as a new cardholder to purchase an Alaska Airlines Companion Fare for $0 plus $22 in taxes and fees after you buy a ticket. All you have to do is meet the $1,000 spending requirement and this free travel offer will be unlocked in addition to the 30,000 bonus miles.
Enjoy a Companion Fare Every Year
The most valuable recurring benefit of the Alaska Airlines Visa is their Companion Fare. Each card anniversary, you will receive a free Companion Fare that allows your traveling companion to fly at a sharply reduced rate. You will only pay $121 ($99 base fare plus taxes and fees from $22) for your friend’s ticket.
There are also no blackout dates when redeeming for Companion Fare on any Alaska Airlines or Virgin America flight.
This benefit alone can be worth owning the Alaska Airlines credit card. And, it nullifies the $75 annual fee if you fly with somebody else during the year.
Avoid the Baggage Fees w/ the Alaska Airlines Credit Card
You and six traveling companions can check one bag free letting up to seven bags fly free on any Alaska Airlines or Virgin America flight. That can be a potential savings of $350 every round-trip and can be well worth owning the Alaska Airlines credit card too.
Alaska Airlines’ baggage fee waiver is one of the more generous policies compared to the other airline rewards credit cards.
Earn Points on Every Purchase
You will earn three points on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America purchases for every dollar spent. And, all remaining purchases will earn one point per dollar spent.
In addition to Alaska Airlines credit card spending, you can also earn points by booking travel with other Mileage Plan airline and hotel partners. By joining the Mileage Plan Dining Club, you will also earn up to five points per dollar for every restaurant purchase at over 10,000 locations. The Mileage Plan Dining Club is one of the easiest ways to earn bonus points on your non-travel purchases.
There are no earnings caps to how many miles you can earn in a year.
Redeeming Alaska Airlines Points
While the free checked bags and annual Companion Fare are valuable benefits, the reason why you spend on your Alaska Airlines Visa instead of a flexible travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred is that you intend to redeem your Alaska Airlines miles for future award flights. Alaska Airlines miles can be worth less than a penny per mile (not good for an airline) or up to 15 cents per mile! When researching award flights you will really have to do your homework.
As Alaska Airlines has recently acquired Virgin America, you will be able to redeem your points for award flights on either carrier but you will probably spend fewer miles on Alaska flights.
Continental U.S. Flights
The cost of Alaska Airline flights are distance-based and broken down into the following tiers for continental U.S. flights:
- Flights 700 miles or less: 5,000 to 20,000 Miles
- 701 miles to 1,400 miles: 7,500 to 20,000 Miles
- 1,401 miles to 2,100 miles: 10,000 to 20,000 Miles
- Flights 2,101 miles or longer: 12,500 to 20,000 Miles
*All first class seats cost 25,000 miles regardless of the distance.
Short-haul flights can be a relative bargain if you only travel 700 miles or less, but, you should compare the actual fare price as these flights might have a better cash-value rate allowing you to save your miles for a longer flight.
If your travel destination is less than 1,400 miles away, the 7,500 point requirement is also a good alternative to the larger carriers. American Airlines is the one exception as you can fly starting at 7,500 Avios.
Award Flights to Hawaii
Another travel sweet spot with Alaska Airlines is flying to Hawaii. If you can fly out of a west coast hub like Los Angeles or Seattle, each round-trip economy ticket only costs 35,000 points to get to Hawaii.
If you are planning a trip to this tropical paradise, the 30,000 point sign-up bonus does most of the heavy work for you already. All you need to do is earn another 5,000 points and you are all set.
Redeeming Points on Partner Flights
Alaska Airlines doesn’t belong to an alliance, but, you can redeem your points for partner flights on 15 airlines!
Some of them include:
- American Airlines
- Air France
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
You can search for partner flights on the Alaska Airlines website for every airline except Cathay Pacific and LAN.
Redemption rates are different with each airline and you will get a better deal by booking directly with some airlines. Viewing the partner award charts can help you determine when to use your earn miles for partner flights or saving them to fly on Alaska Air.
Using Alaska Airlines miles for Emirates flights has been a very popular redemption the last few years. And it’s how I book my First Class Emirates flight.
Strengths of the Alaska Airlines Credit Card
Here are the primary reasons you should consider the Alaska Airlines credit card:
- Annual Companion Fare lets your travel companion only fly for $121
- Up to seven bags fly free
- Earn three points on every Alaska Airlines and Virgin America flight
- Award flights start at 5,000 miles one-way economy
- 30,000 bonus point introductory offer is valid for six flights
The Companion Fare and waived baggage fees alone pays the $75 annual fee every year. Due to the low point redemption requirements on many North American and Hawaiian flights, it can also be easier to earn award flights on Alaskan compared to the other large carriers.
Cons of the Alaska Airlines Credit Card
What’s not to like about the Alaska Airlines credit card? Here are a couple reasons you might not decide to apply for the Alaska Airlines credit card.
- You fly solo and cannot use the Companion Fare anniversary benefit
- Do not check bags
- Rarely fly Alaska Airlines
- Want to earn bonus points on other carriers or everyday purchases
It makes sense to get the Alaska Airlines credit card if you are a regular customer. But, if you fly solo or rarely check a bag, you will get more distance out of your travels by purchasing your Alaska Airlines tickets with a flexible travel rewards card that allows you to transfer points to many of the same airline partners.
Summary on Alaska Airlines Credit Card Review
Alaska Airlines has one of the most respected airline loyalty programs and their credit card isn’t too shabby either. You will get the most value for the card by using their annual Companion Fare and checking bags. Due to their point requirements for award seats, the credit card can also be an excellent opportunity to increase your earning potential.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.