Alaska Airlines Visa Business review: Earn 60,000 miles and a Companion Fare
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Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card overview
The Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card is an easily overlooked card that earns exceptionally valuable airline miles. The card also comes with an annual Companion Fare that makes the low annual fee of $75 worth paying year after year. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Alaska Airlines has one of the best airline loyalty programs in the world, which makes the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card a surprisingly valuable credit card to carry.
Alaska Mileage Plan is one of the few frequent-flyer schemes left where you still earn miles based on the distance flown rather than on the price of your ticket, and where you can add free stopovers on award flights, even one-way tickets. So you don’t have to purchase expensive first- and business-class fares to rack up a lot of miles.
On top of that, some of the award prices to fly the airline’s partners are outstanding, like flights to Asia for 70,000 miles in Cathay Pacific first class or Japan Airlines first class. These factors are why TPG values Alaska Airlines miles higher than the miles you can earn with any other major airline. Alaska Airlines is now part of the Oneworld alliance and has cemented a new partnership with American Airlines, meaning Alaska miles might come in handy on even more partners.
If you don’t already have an Alaska Airlines cobranded credit card, you might want to think about picking one up. In particular, the Alaska Airlines Visa Business is posting one of its best-ever bonuses. You can earn 60,000 bonus miles plus an Alaska companion fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after spending $3,000 or more on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
Here’s a closer look at this card and why you might want to consider applying for it.
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Who is this card for?
This is a good business credit card for anyone who travels heavily to or through the West Coast, or can take advantage of Alaska’s solid network of partner airlines. However, if you’re looking to earn the most for business expenses, there are more rewarding options available. I have this card and plan on keeping it for the long term because of its valuable ongoing benefits, which we’ll discuss below.
Another nice side benefit of the Alaska Airlines business card is that it won’t limit your ability to get approved for the top Chase credit cards. That’s because as a business credit card, it won’t add to your Chase 5/24 count. You will need a business to qualify for this card, but you could qualify as a freelancer or independent contractor. That means that driving for Uber/Lyft, pet sitting or working for a food delivery service could make you eligible. And if you’re a sole proprietor, you can use your name as your business name and your social security number as your business tax ID.
After spending $3,000 or more in the first 90 days from opening the account, you’ll earn 60,000 Alaska miles and an Alaska Airlines companion fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22).
This is one of the best airline credit card bonuses on the market right now. TPG values Alaska miles at 1.8 cents each, making these miles worth $1,080 in airfare. Anytime you can earn more than $1,000 from a sign-up bonus, that’s an offer worth looking at seriously. This is also a higher bonus than we’ve seen in the past (it usually hovers around the 40,000-mile mark).
You can potentially save a few hundred dollars more if you maximize the Companion Fare that forms part of the introductory offer. This companion certificate is valid on all Alaska Airlines flights; you pay just $99 plus the taxes and fees for a companion booked on the same round-trip economy reservation as you. When you add in the fact that this card has a very reasonable $75 annual fee ($50 for your company and $25 per card), the bonus and benefits start to look even better.
Main benefits and perks
The Alaska Airlines Visa Business comes with all of the standard perks you’d expect from a cobranded airline card and a few extra benefits as well.
First, the cardholder and up to six guests on the same reservation will get a free checked bag on Alaska Airlines flights. That’s a savings of $60 per person for each round-trip flight. In addition, you’ll get 20% back on inflight purchases, including food, beverages and Wi-Fi, and 50% off Alaska Airlines lounge one-time day passes. The card earns 3x miles per dollar on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x on all other eligible purchases.
What really makes this card shine, though, is the annual Companion Fare (yes, you get one every year you renew the card and pay its annual fee, not just as part of its sign-up bonus). With the companion fare you can bring a guest along on any coach Alaska Airlines fare for only $99 plus the taxes and fees (from $22). The cardholder doesn’t need to be one of the travelers, but the flights must be paid for with your Alaska Airlines card. Both travelers will earn Alaska miles for the flight and are eligible for upgrades, which is great if you have Alaska Airlines elite status.
The fact that you’ll earn a companion certificate every year without having to meet huge minimum spending requirements, and that both flyers are still eligible for mileage earning and upgrades makes this one of the better airline card companion tickets. If you travel internationally, it’ll come in handy that this card charges no foreign transaction fees.
How to earn miles
When you use the Alaska Airlines business card to make direct Alaska Airlines purchases, you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar on eligible purchases. All other purchases earn 1 mile per dollar.
Because Alaska miles are so valuable, that’s like getting a return of 5.4% on Alaska purchases and 1.8% everywhere else, based on TPG valuations. That’s a decent rate but you can do better on airfare purchases and everyday spending.
How to redeem miles
For most flights on Alaska Airlines itself, you’ll pay 5,000-12,500 miles each way in economy. This can be a good value, but you can really maximize your Mileage Plan miles by redeeming them for flights on Alaska’s partners. There is a different award chart for each partner airline, so it can get confusing, and they won’t all offer the same value.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles are a great option if you’re booking an award to Asia or the South Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand). You can fly from the U.S. to/from Asia for only 50,000 miles each in business class with Cathay Pacific and you can add in a free stopover (in a hub city) on that ticket. For example, I flew in Cathay Pacific business class from Japan to the U.S. and added a free stopover in Hong Kong for a few days.
There are also plenty of ways to use Alaska miles to book some of the most difficult awards to find – premium-cabin flights to Australia or New Zealand. You can fly nonstop on American Airlines or Qantas (to Australia) or you can route through Asia on another partner. You could even book Fiji Airways business class for 55,000 miles one-way to New Zealand or Australia and add in a free stopover in Fiji. Among the airline’s non-alliance partners to look out for are Singapore Airlines. Premium award space is hard to come by, but economy awards are plentiful.
Alternatives to the Alaska Airlines Business card
You can also earn Alaska miles with the personal Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, so if you don’t qualify for a business card, the personal version might be the perfect alternative.
If you’re determined to earn Alaska miles, your options are limited outside of the two cobranded cards. The only flexible points that transfer to Alaska at a reasonable rate are Marriott Bonvoy points, and even then the transfer ratio is 3:1 with a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points at a time. So Marriott credit cards can be a good back-up option if you want to amass Alaska miles, but they might not be your main tools for doing so.
As for travel credit cards not specific to Alaska Airlines that help you maximize your business spending, there are better options. The American Express® Business Gold Card, for example, earns 4x Membership Rewards points (worth 2 cents each according to TPG valuations) on two of the following categories — whichever you spend the most on each month:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
- U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
- U.S. gas stations
- U.S. restaurants
- U.S. shipping
The 4x bonus is limited to $150,000 in combined purchases from the two categories each calendar year (then 1x).
If the majority of your business expenses fall outside of those categories, a card such as the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (1.5% back on all purchases) or The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (2x Amex points on the first $50,000 in purchases each calendar year, then 1x) are great options.
The Alaska Airlines Visa Business card has a valuable sign-up bonus, a low annual fee and lucrative ongoing perks. For most people, it’s a card that’s easy to justify opening and keeping long-term, but only if you’ll take advantage of the companion fare. If you’ve been holding off on doing so, right now is the time to apply thanks to its higher-than-usual welcome offer.
On the downside, this isn’t a great card for getting rewarded for your business spending since it only earns 1x miles for all purchases outside of Alaska Airlines purchases, so consider that if you’re looking for a higher-earning business credit card.
Find rates and fees for the Amex Business Gold here.
Additional reporting by Chris Dong.
Featured image by Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy.
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