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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Earning airline miles via paid flights 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.
When you do buy miles, it’s always nice to get a good deal. This week, Alaska Airlines kicked off a promotion where you can get up to 40% bonus miles when purchasing miles.
Here’s how it works: Now through March 31, you can earn up to 24,000 bonus miles when you buy Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
It’s a tiered bonus with the following rates:
- Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles, get a 20% Bonus
- Buy 20,000 – 39,000 miles, get a 30% Bonus
- Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles, get a 40% Bonus
The regular price of buying miles from Alaska is about 2.96 cents per mile ($27.50 per 1,000 miles plus a 7.5% Federal Excise Tax), but with the 40% bonus offer, you can buy miles for as little as 2.11 cents per mile.
One especially nice thing about this promotion is that you don’t have to purchase increments of 20,000 miles to get a “sweet spot” in the chart. The 20% to 40% bonus is applied throughout the chart; any purchase of 40,000 or more miles will be at the rate of 2.11 cents per mile.
That said, here are various purchase levels for reference:
- 10,000 + 2,000 bonus miles for $296 total (2.47 cents per mile)
- 20,000 + 6,000 bonus miles for $591 total (2.27 cents per mile)
- 40,000 + 16,000 bonus miles for $1,183 total (2.11 cents per mile)
- 60,000 + 24,000 bonus miles for $1,774 total (2.11 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. There’s no annual limit on number of miles you can purchase during the year, so you can make as many purchases as you wish.
- Miles may take up to 72 hours to post to your account.
- Purchased miles don’t count toward elite status.
In addition, the transaction is processed directly by Points.com, so it isn’t eligible for an airfare category bonus. Make sure to use a card that has a high return for general spending, such as the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. If you don’t have this card yet, you’ve got time to apply for it and activate it before this promotion expires. That way, you can put this large purchase toward the $3,000 minimum spend for the 25,000-Starpoint bonus.
Is This Worth It?
In TPG’s most recent valuations, he pegs Alaska miles at 2 cents apiece. The maximum bonus could bring your price down to just 2.11 cents per mile, so not quite down to our valuation. However, if you have specific redemptions in mind — such as a first-class flight on Emirates — it could make sense to purchase specific amounts to top off your account.
At the 2.11-cents-per-mile rate, redeeming for a round-trip economy award to Hawaii for at 40,000 miles would be equivalent to paying about $844 for the flight. If your dates are flexible, you can surely find a cash fare cheaper than this. But, if you’re booking at the last minute or during a peak time of year, an Alaska award might be the better option.
On the luxury end of the spectrum, you could redeem 90,000 Alaska miles to fly Emirates’ first class one-way from New York to Dubai. You can choose between one of Emirates’ 3x daily A380 direct flights, or you can opt to connect in Milan.
If you choose to connect, you can get the A380 first-class experience — complete with onboard shower, onboard bar and top-notch service — twice in one booking! Considering that Emirates’ first class is currently running ~$26,000 round-trip from New York to Dubai, you’d be getting over 14 cents of value per mile from a round-trip redemption.
If you’re looking for other ways to boost your Alaska account, consider applying for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card. The card is currently offering 25,000 bonus Alaska miles just for being approved; no minimum spend required! There’s a $75 annual fee which isn’t waived the first year. Even if you don’t plan on using the other perks — such as the $99 companion fare — you can think of signing up for this card as purchasing 25,000 miles for just 0.3 cents per mile.
This is a fairly standard offer for Alaska, having offered nearly an identical promotion August-September 2015 and up to 50% bonus in November-December. However, purchasing Alaska miles at 2.11 cents per mile is a solid rate, and you can’t always count on a promotion to be running in the future when you need the miles. If you need miles for a specific redemption over the next few months, make sure to take advantage of this deal before March 31.
What do you think of this new promotion? Will you be purchasing miles?