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Although Alaska Airlines and Emirates announced their partnership over a year ago, Ben at One Mile at a Time diligently reported this week that the moment we’ve all be waiting for has finally arrived – starting January 16, 2013, you can redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles on Emirates.
Here’s the award chart, which I actually think is pretty generous.
This is great – but I don’t have a ton of Alaska Mileage Plan miles yet. I definitely want to shower in the sky, though so I will definitely be taking advantage of this partnership soon.
First things first: if you don’t have a Mileage Plan account yet, sign up for one here.
Once you do that, here are the top ways to go from zero miles to first class on Emirates in a hurry.
1. Starwood Preferred Guest Points: These transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and you get a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer in increments of 20,000 miles. While I generally like using my SPG points for hotel redemptions, the Emirates angle is one I’d consider transferring those valuable Starwood points for. First Class from North America to India or the Middle East is 180,000 miles. I want to go to India since I’ve never been, so to get those 180,000 miles, I’d need 145,000 Starpoints.
At a rate of 2 cents each (the value I place on them), that’s like $2,900 in value that I could easily get at hotels. However, I think that first class redemption is worth a lot more, easily in the range of $10,000, so I would definitely consider this option.
The true valuation lies somewhere in between, but clearly you’re getting great bang for your point. However, SPG promos have been a bit lame lately for scoring bonus points, so the best way to ramp up your SPG account is to get one of their co-branded credit cards – both the personal and business Starwood Amex each come with a bonus of 25,000 Starpoints when you spend $5,000 within 6 months and the $65 annual fee is waived the first year.
If you leverage the whole prepaid game by buying Vanilla Reloads you could start minting those points at a relatively low cost – much lower than the value of the Emirates award.
2. Bank Your Flown Miles To Alaska: Alaska has many airline partners including both Delta and American (as well as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Qantas, KLM/Air France, Icelandair, Air Pacific and more), so you can earn Alaska miles by flying them as well. Just be sure that the fare class you book into earns Alaska miles at a rate of 100% or more. Also know that when you bank miles from partners to Alaska, you forego elite credit on those airlines, so while you’re earning valuable Alaska miles, you are losing out on elite status on your usual airline of choice. You might be able to request a status match from Alaska based on your current status with another airline by emailing Mileage Plan, though.
3. Transfer Diners Club Miles: Diners Club Miles are a dying breed of points, but if you do have them you can transfer them to Alaska Mileage Plan at a 1:1 ratio. Canadian members transfer at a rate of 1.25:1.
4. Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa: This card comes with 25,000 bonus miles at sign-up (note: I’ve seen this bonus go up to 40,000 before, so you might want to hold off until it goes back up). The business version of this card currently offers 25,000 bonus miles as well. While these bonuses aren’t that high. Bank of America is very flexible about getting these bonuses over and over…and over again.
5. Alaska’s Dining Network: Like many other airlines, Alaska is part of Dining Rewards Network where Mileage Plan members can link a credit card to their Mileage Plan account and earn between 3-5 miles per $1 spent at participating restaurants. If you haven’t linked your card to your account yet, right now there’s a 500-mile sign-up bonus for new members.
6. Fill Out Surveys: While I personally get impatient and find these a waste of time, if you’ve got a few extra minutes in your day and don’t mind filling out benign surveys, you can score a few hundred bonus points. You get 275 points that you can convert to miles for signing up for these surveys, and 200 for these.
7. Join A Wine Club: Under the list of random Mileage Plan partners is this wine club where you get 2,250 miles just for enrolling and being a member for 21 days – and you can cancel at any time. You also get 5 miles per every dollar spent on wine purchased through this program. For miles to be awarded, member must provide their valid Mileage Plan account number at the time of purchase. The wine club enrollment miles will be credited only after completion of first paid shipment. Miles will not be awarded on any returned or credited shipments. Enrollment miles are not valid on gift memberships. You must be an active member for at least 21 days to receive enrollment miles. Only one enrollment bonus per household.
8. Thanks Again Network: Kind of like with dining rewards, when you join the Thanks Again and register up to five credit or debit cards and then use those cards with participating merchants to park, shop or dine at more than 100 airports across the United States, including on the West Coast (PDX, SEA, SFO, LAS, STS) and in Alaska (ANC), you earn up to 5 miles per dollar you spend.
9. Spending with Bluebird: If you have an Alaska Airlines Credit or Debit Card, you can buy reloadable Vanilla Reload cards, and then load them onto an American Express Bluebird card to earn more miles.