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How To Buy Alaska Airlines Miles For 2 Cents Each Every Day – Great Deal On Emirates Tickets

by on January 9, 2014 · 21 comments

in Alaska, Emirates

Alaska is not one of my main airline programs (yet!), but when planning my Maldives/India trip, I knew I wanted to fly back to the States in Emirates First Class.

My plan was to use 90,000 Alaska miles and $57.47 in taxes to reserve a first class award from Mumbai connecting in Dubai to JFK with the first leg aboard an Emirates 777-300, and the longer one to New York aboard an A380.

Alaska has amazing airline partners.

Alaska has amazing airline partners including Emirates.

However, I didn’t have those miles to begin with. Though I’m familiar with Alaska’s Mileage Plan program, I’m always learning more things about it, including something I learned during last year’s Chicago Seminars – which is that Alaska actually has a “Fly & Buy Miles” features where, when booking a flight at alaskaair.com, you can purchase up to 10,000 additional Mileage Plan miles at a special discounted price that works out to 1.9 cents per mile plus a 7.5% tax (so about 2.04 cents per mile).

Alaska Fly Buy

Here are the rest of the Terms and Conditions:

  • Fly & Buy Miles are only offered during the initial purchase of a revenue ticket at alaskaair.com.
  • Fly & Buy Miles are not offered when purchasing award reservations.
  • Fly & Buy Miles are credited to your Mileage Pla account separately from miles earned by taking a qualifying flight.
  • Prices are stated in U.S. Dollars and are subject to applicable taxes, currently 7.5% for U.S. residents. Taxes vary for residents of other countries.
  • Fly & Buy Miles and associated taxes are nonrefundable.
  • Purchased Fly & Buy Miles do not count toward qualification for Mileage Plan MVP or MVP Gold status.
  • Fly & Buy Miles will generally post to your Mileage Plan account immediately after the transaction is complete but may take up to two business days.
  • The Mileage Plan Conditions of Membership apply to Fly & Buy Miles.

To test it out, I purchased a refundable one-way flight from Seattle to Portland earlier this week and opted to purchase 10,000 additional Fly & Buy miles, which rang up at $190 plus $14.25 in tax (7.5%) for a grand total of $204.25.

Screen shot 2013-10-15 at 8.32.02 AM

I made both purchases using my American Express Premier Rewards Gold card, which offers 3X points per $1 on airfare. As you’ll see below, what’s interesting about this is that, though this rang up as two separate transactions, both were categorized as an airline purchase, meaning I got the 3X Amex points on the bonus miles as well, which is not the case when buying them outright from the airline through Points.com (or for any other kind of miles usually, for instance when you’re taking advantage of buy or share miles promotions).

The transactions were processed separately but both count as airfare.

The transactions were processed separately but both count as airfare.

Once the transactions had posted and the miles were in my Mileage Plan account, I simply canceled my Alaska ticket and kept the non-refundable bonus miles (and still got 3X on that purchase).

This was test case and I don’t expect it to raise any red flags, but that said, I wouldn’t encourage you to go out and make 10 refundable reservations all at once and purchase the maximum 10,000 miles with each or the airline might cut you off.

Cost Analysis

To put this in perspective, here is Alaska’s Emirates partner award chart:

Alaska Emirates Chart

I’m planning to go back to Africa at some point this year since I have part of an unused award from the US to Johannesburg to fly. So let’s say I wanted to buy the 100,000 miles to return to the US aboard Emirates.

If I were to buy the 100,000 I’d need for a one-way first class award on Emirates for the return from Africa to North America it would run me $2,042.50. Emirates currently operates the A380 from New York JFK and LAX to Dubai. From Dubai to Johannesburg, it flies the 777-300ER.

For comparison’s sake, I priced out a one-way ticket from Johannesburg to LAX first class on Emirates at the end of January and it would cost $6,520.

Screen shot 2013-10-15 at 2.44.45 PM

By spending $2,042.50 on miles, I’m saving myself nearly $4,478! To me, this only makes sense if you want to fly Emirates first class since you’re still paying thousands of dollars for these miles and the high prices of first class fares might just justify the expense for you if you’re willing to spend a couple thousand dollars for a ticket in the $10,000 range.

On the flip side, let’s say you wanted to do this to fly roundtrip from the US to Dubai. That would require 85,000 miles, which would cost $1,737. Looking at flights from New York JFK to Dubai, a roundtrip economy ticket would only cost $1,113 and you wouldn’t be subject to award availability, so better to buy in that case.

Screen shot 2014-01-08 at 2.19.41 PM

My Plan

I ended up buying several thousand miles through this method, and then transferring some of my Starwood Preferred Guest points to Alaska for the rest in order to book my award on Emirates – and the plan worked perfectly. Stay tuned a little later today for my review of Emirates First Class.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Dieuwer

    Would consider flying Emirates business class?
    They have pretty good one-way fares in biz from Capetown back to the US.

  • ddt

    Would the $200 airline reimbursement for amex platinum work here since the purchase goes through the actual airline?

  • Jason

    Listen to yourself….”By spending $2,042.50 on miles, I’m saving myself nearly $4,478!”
    I get the point that you’re speaking to those who want to fly on Emirates first class — of course I do — but to those who can just plonk down $2000 on a one-way ($4000 on a roundtrip) ticket, here’s a newsflash: They aren’t going to concern themselves with going through 20 hoops it would take to buy miles on Alaska and hope for availability on Emirates first class.
    This whole post is quite a reach, but it’s fun from a theoretical standpoint when you’re dealing with Monopology money and miles. But I have a feeling with all the devaluations across the board, the posts on TPG will become even more tangential and fanciful, since we ALL will have to go through contortions to maximize our loyalty points.

  • Laney

    you are AMAZING!!!

  • David Esquiliano

    What route are you flying?

  • alex

    Thank you for writing this article. Thank you for writing every article they can always help people looking for specifics and wanting to learn more. and please dont be discouraged by the jacka** who insist on being negative/accusing in their comments….

  • thepointsguy

    Check out my trip report I just posted – I flew BOM-DXB-JFK

  • Heather L. Cannady

    Very interesting. And kudos to you for “exposing” yourself on this one, albeit after the fact. Are you afraid of any repercussion and what do you think are the chances Alaska will find out about this shut it down? Here’s hoping not!

  • thepointsguy

    Airlines still make money on selling miles (or else they wouldn’t do it), so I’m not concerned about them shutting it down.

  • thepointsguy

    The point is that you can use a mix of points/cash/creative methods to fly Emirates first class for a fraction of what most people in that cabin pay.

  • thepointsguy

    I’ve heard their business class is pretty good- and includes chauffeur service- even on award tickets

  • David Esquiliano

    Thanks. I saw it after I had already asked. I’m booked on LAX-DXB-SIN in a couple weeks, all on a380, and I’m looking forward to it.

  • Jaen

    I think the criticisms of this approach are misguided. Roundtrip business class LAX-SYD could be purchased for roughly $2250, which is a quarter or less of its actual cost. And unlike AA’s QF availability, Alaska’s is copious, with business class available almost every day 60-90 days out. The only dilemma is how quickly one could accumulate these 10K increments without raising red flags with Alaska. To do one a week would take 11 weeks for LAX-SYD, and we aren’t all planning that far out.

  • Greg

    How is award availability. I took a quick look using the Alaska Website, and could not fine a single day with availability for two in First Dubai to JFK, or is it the Alaska website that is not reporting the availability properly?

  • joe

    you can buy miles on most airlines @ 2 cents per mile, without going thru the hassles you have gone thru!

  • joe

    Also there is no limit to the miles you can buy from independent sources at 2 cents or even 1.9 cents a mile!

  • FE

    From what independent sources can you buy those miles for 2 or even 1.9 cents in bulk?

  • rick b

    I can buy all their miles I want for about 1.05% by manufacturing spending on their credit card. I just got the 50k bonus and can whip up another 40k spending with 8 trips to CVS on my way to work every day.

  • childin

    Hi, I am new to the points game, and trying to get some suggestions on if and how i could use about 100k Amex rewards points and another 30k delta Amex gold miles towards emirates ticket (economy) purchase. I need to buy 2 round trip and a one way ticket from India to USA. Any help is much appreciated!

  • phonebanshee

    They’re offering a deal now where you can just buy them without jumping through these hoops. FYI, the regular, no-discounts rate for businesses to buy miles is 2.5 cents/mi (and does anyone ever pay the listed rate?), so I suspect at 1.9c Alaska is still totally happy to sell you as many as you’d like to buy.

  • David Bentler

    Hi there. Just wanted to check in to see how successful you were with this opportunity. I have about 65k miles right now and want to jump up at least to 100k to take advantage of the Emirates award flight you mentioned. How many times did you end up trying this out? Thanks very much.

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