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TPG reader Nate e-mailed me this week with the following question:

“Should my wife and I bank miles at Alaska for dual elite status even if we never fly Alaska?

We value:

(1) free upgrades to first and premium economy
(2) miles for hotel/air to US, Europe, Mexico, Hawaii
(3) priority boarding and seats

What cards would you recommend for our strategy?”

This is a really topical question because Delta – who is partnered with Alaska – is really changing their frequent flyer program. It could make sense for a lot of people to now bank their miles to Alaska instead of Delta, even if they never step foot on an Alaska plane.

By banking to Alaska, your miles have the potential to become far more valuable than Delta Skymiles. Once you become an Alaska MVP Gold or Gold 75k member, you’ll earn access to seat upgrades, priority boarding and exit row seating on Delta. Plus, Alaska’s got a great lineup of award partners like American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, Korean Air, and Emirates, on which I recently flew in First Class.

Consider how much you value redeemable miles. While this strategy won’t be as valuable as top-tier elite status in either Delta’s or American’s frequent flyer program, it would still give you a lot of flexibility and benefits.

Banking your miles to Alaska could be a good idea, even if you never step foot on an Alaska plane
Banking your miles to Alaska could be a good idea, even if you never step foot on an Alaska plane

The credit card I’d recommend for this strategy is the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature, which presently offers a potential 40,000 sign-up bonus – 25,000 upon approval and 15,000 more when you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months. Though seemingly targeted to Alaska elites, this offer is worth investigating because this card’s bonus usually hovers around the 25,000 mark (there’s also another offer of 30,000 miles upon approval with no spending). Other perks of the card include a Coach Companion Fare every year from $118 ($99, plus taxes and fees from $19); earnings of 3 miles for every qualifying dollar in purchases of Alaska Airlines tickets, Vacation packages and Cargo purchases; and no limit to the number of miles you can earn with the card, which has a $75 annual fee.

Alaska_Airlines_card_vs

Because you mentioned hotel points and are considering Alaska, you could also get the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, which not only earns Starwood points for awards at the chain’s 1,100+ properties, but which you can also transfer to Alaska airlines at a 1:1 ratio and get a 5,000-mile bonus on transfers of 20,000 miles, so it’s like earning 1.25 miles per $1 on your purchases with this card. The Starwood Amex currently has a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. For more information, see this post.

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on FacebookTweeting me or emailing me at info@thepointsguy.com.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The best sign-up bonus we've ever seen from the SPG Amex is here, for a limited time only. Earn up to 35,000 Starpoints which can be used for hotel redemption around the globe, transferred to over 30 airline partners, and even transfer from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Limited Time Offer- Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.74%-19.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Balance Transfer Fee
3.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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