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Alaska Adds Emirates Award Redemptions: Top Ways To Boost Your Mileage Plan Account

by on January 11, 2013 · 15 comments

in Alaska, Emirates

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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.

The Award chart for Africa and the Middle East.

The Award chart for Africa and the Middle East.

The Asia Award Chart.

The Asia Award Chart.

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.

Other hotel programs transfer as well, but at much less valuable ratios. For example, you can transfer 10,000 Hilton HHonors to 1,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles.Alaska Partners

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.

Join a wine club - earn bonus points!

Join a wine club – earn bonus points!

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.  

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Clayd333
  • Ryan

    You can status match to Alaska MVP. I’ve done it from Delta Silver to MVP. Gets you at least free luggage on AA

  • Brian(J)

    Currently have over 400k AS miles, last major redemption was 130K each for 2 tickets to Bali on Cathay Pacific in J from SEA with a stopover in HK. One of the ways I scored those miles was a number of buiness trips SEA to Seoul in J on Korean Air and banked the miles to AS. In my experiance redemptions can be very tough and need a lot of extra flexibility- that is why I have so many, I tend to give up and go United or a United partner using United miles converted from Chase. Running low on those now so perhaps I’ll be riding in Emirates metal

    Until last year the BOA credit card based companion fare was very sweet and then this year they made that program coach only and took the buzz right out of it while lowering the bonus to 25k. I’m waiting for a better bonus.

  • Stew Clark

    tried to charge vanilla reloads yesterday at walgreens….cash only accepted
    are these a dead end? I have the bluebird amex

  • Mohsin

    Can we use Alaska miles to Upgrade on Emirates flight?

  • http://twitter.com/aegt S Shah

    It will still cost $2400 in VR fees at a drug store to get to 180K miles if you are going to convert it from Hilton

  • Leilani

    Any possible way of transferring my 200K+ Delta miles over to my Alaska mileage account so I can book an Emirates award ticket?

  • thepointsguy

    Unfortunately not

  • Sonny

    Alaska’s website says you can buy 40,000 miles per transaction. Can I keep doing multiple transactions to amass 145K? Or do they cap the amount you can buy in a given year?

  • ALLinet

    Thanks again!? I just started exploring…THERE’S A WINE STORE IN THE NETWORK! FINALLY! A way to earn bonus points on drinking!

  • Matt

    Is this only to/from USA? e.g., could we use Alaska Miles to purchase India->Africa oneway?

  • AlaskaFF

    I called Alaska today Jan 16th, and their system is not enabled to make the reservation on Emirates. The delay is until further notice.

  • sb

    TPG- Any word on whether one can use Alaska Air points to upgrade seats on an Emirates flights? thanks

  • Darla

    I recently signed up for both business and personal card from Alaska Air, got my business card yesterday but no news about personal card (wanted miles for both.) Do you think it was possible to get both? I am going to be traveling a lot on this airline and I wanted both cards…Thanks

  • SC

    I’m curious about this too — Any way Alaska Air or Korean Skypass miles can be used for Emirates upgrades?

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