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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Earning airline miles using the traditional method (actually flying) is just one way to boost your account balance. Fortunately, airlines make it relatively easy to accrue miles without flying, whether through top credit card offers or by utilizing shopping portals. You can also purchase miles directly from an airline, and last week United announced a bonus of up to 85% when you purchase miles. Today Alaska Airlines has joined the party with its own bonus as well.
Here’s how it works: From today (November 9) through December 23, you’ll earn a mystery bonus of up to 50% when you buy or gift Alaska miles (note that you may receive other bonus offers, too). Unfortunately you won’t know which bonus you’re targeted for until you log in here, and the bonus amount will vary based on the number of miles you purchase. The regular price of buying miles from Alaska is ~2.96 cents per mile ($27.50 per 1,000 miles plus a 7.5% Federal Excise Tax), so if you receive the 50% bonus offer, it’ll actually drop your price down to ~1.97 cents per mile.
Here’s how to take advantage of the promotion:
- Visit Alaska’s Buy Miles page.
- Enter your details, select the number of miles you want to purchase and click Continue.
- Add your credit card details and click Continue.
- Review the information, check the box to agree to the Terms and Conditions and click Continue to finalize the purchase.
Keep in mind that the usual restrictions for purchasing Alaska miles apply to this promotion, including the following:
- Miles may be purchased in increments of 1,000 miles up to a maximum of 60,000 miles per transaction (though there’s no annual limit).
- Miles may take up to 72 hours to post to your account.
- Purchased miles do not count toward elite status.
In addition, the transaction is processed directly by Points.com, so it isn’t eligible for an airfare category bonus on a card like the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.
Is this worth it?
In TPG’s most recent valuations, he pegs Alaska miles at 2 cents apiece, and since the bonus could bring your price down to 1.97 cents per mile, this is already an intriguing promotion. If you’re targeted for the 50% bonus and max out the promotion, you’ll take home 90,000 miles at a cost of $1,773.75. This is obviously a lot of cash to spend, but if you have specific redemptions in mind, it could make sense to purchase specific amounts to top off your account.
For example, one of the best uses of Alaska miles is for Emirates first class. TPG recently flew Emirates A380 first class from Milan to New York and used 100,000 Alaska miles for the award ticket, but surprisingly enough, Alaska only charges 90,000 miles to go from Dubai to the US in first class. In addition, the program allows you to build in a stopover on one-way international award flights.
If your Mileage Plan account balance is zeroed out and you want to purchase miles to unlock these redemptions (and are targeted for the 50% bonus), here are some sample one-way itineraries and the number of miles you’d need to purchase:
- Qantas business class to Australia (55,000 miles): Purchase 37,000 miles and receive 55,500 miles at a cost of $1,093.81
- Cathay Pacific first class to Asia (70,000 miles): Purchase 47,000 miles and receive 70,500 miles at a cost of $1,389.44
- Emirates first class to Dubai (90,000 miles): Purchase 60,000 miles and receive 90,000 miles at a cost of $1,773.75
Traveling in style across the ocean for 10+ hours for less than $1,800 sounds like a great deal in my book! For more information about booking these awards, be sure to check out Jason Steele’s post on How to Book Award Flights with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.
Remember too that Alaska Mileage Plan is a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest, so you could use points earned on cards like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express in conjunction with this offer to open up your ideal redemption. You also could consider opening the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card, which is currently offering 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days. The card also comes with a yearly companion fare that can be a great help when booking paid tickets.
This promotion likely isn’t for everyone, but Alaska has some incredible redemption opportunities in its program, and you may be able to snag miles for as low as 1.97 cents apiece! This is as low as I’ve ever seen them priced and represents a terrific opportunity to boost your account balance. Don’t forget that you can also take advantage of a status match with Alaska to make the program even more lucrative.
What bonuses were you targeted for? Will you be taking advantage of this new promotion?
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