Credit card showdown: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature vs. Alaska Airlines Business Visa

Mar 24, 2020

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With the current travel restrictions in place, you might think now is not a good time to apply for an airline credit card. However, several of them are offering historically high sign-up bonuses at the moment with extra perks thrown in. Now might actually be the best time to apply, since you will have a few months to stockpile miles and earn a welcome bonus in anticipation of redeeming those miles for tickets once things go back to normal.

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Two cards you might want to think about are the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card, with the consumer card fielding a limited-time welcome offer. In addition to how useful Alaska Airlines miles can be, another good reason to consider them is they are issued by Bank of America. If you have reached your limit with American Express cards or are affected by Chase’s 5/24 rule for the moment, it is probably a good idea to look at other banks for your next credit card, including these two.

Here’s a quick comparison chart of the two products.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card
Annual fee $75 $50 per company, $25 per card
Sign-up bonus 40,000 miles + Companion Fare + $100 statement credit after you spend $2K in the first 90 days of account opening. 40,000 miles + Companion Fare after you spend $2K in the first 90 days of account opening.
Earning 3x miles on eligible Alaska purchases

1x mile on everything else

3x miles on eligible Alaska purchases

1x mile on everything else

Alaska benefits Annual Companion Fare

Free checked bag

50% off Alaska Lounge day passes

20% off in-flight food, beverage, Wi-Fi

Annual Companion Fare

Free checked bag

50% off Alaska Lounge day passes

20% off in-flight food, beverage, Wi-Fi

Other benefits No foreign transaction fees

Purchase protection

Extended warranty

Lost luggage protection

Trip delay

Trip cancellation

Secondary auto rental insurance

No foreign transaction fees

Purchase protection

Extended warranty

Lost luggage protection

Trip delay

Trip cancellation

Secondary auto rental insurance

Now let’s look into the details and discuss how they match up.

In This Post

Annual fee

Although their annual fees are structured differently, if you are just getting a single card, you will end up paying the same amount for either.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card charges $75 per year to keep your account open. The Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card costs $50 per account plus $25 per card. So if you have a single card, it’s also $75 total per year, though you can obviously take out additional cards at an additional expense.

Related reading: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card review

Sign-up bonus

The two cards are currently offering attractive sign-up bonuses with one major difference.

Approved applicants for the Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card are eligible for 40,000 bonus miles after they make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days, plus get the airline’s Companion Fare, which is basically a companion ticket that costs from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). We’ll get into that below.

Based on our current valuations, 40,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles are worth around $720. However, you can get a ton of value from your Alaska Airlines miles thanks to Mileage Plan’s phenomenal roster of partners, including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways, JAL, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

Use American AAdvantage miles for excellent partner redemptions, such as Cathay Pacific business class.
Put your Alaska Airlines miles to use for partner awards like Cathay Pacific business class.

Related reading: Best sweet spots with Alaska Mileage Plan

But there’s more. If you apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card instead and are approved, you could earn a limited-time offer of 40,000 bonus miles, the Companion Fare and a $100 statement credit after you make $2,000 or more in purchases with your new card in the first 90 days.

So the personal card is $100 more rewarding for the same spend, but the business card’s welcome offer is pretty compelling, too.

Related reading: Alaska Airlines Visa Business review

Earning

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Both cards earn equivalently. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card racks up 3 miles per dollar on eligible Alaska purchases and 1 mile per dollar on everything else.

Related reading: How to earn miles with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program

The Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card also earns 3x miles per dollar on Alaska purchases and 1x on everything else. Unfortunately, there are no other category spending bonuses.

Alaska Airlines benefits

You won’t find many differences between the two cards’ day-of-travel perks, either. Both the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card and the Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card afford cardholders a free checked bag for themselves and up to six guests on the same reservation. They also receive 20% back on Alaska inflight purchases including food and Wi-Fi, and 50% off Alaska Lounge day passes, which represents a savings of $25 per person. Interestingly enough, priority boarding is not a perk with this card.

Even more importantly, though, both products reward cardholders with an annual Companion Fare, which is one of the most generous airline credit card companion certificates around. Basically, this is a buy-one-get-one-discounted deal (plus taxes and fees).

(Photo by Wallace Cotton/The Points Guy)
Both cards come with similar day-of-travel benefits. (Photo by Wallace Cotton/The Points Guy)

Related reading: Maximizing the Alaska Airlines Visa Companion Fare

When you book a ticket on Alaska Airlines, you can use the Companion Fare to reserve a second ticket on the same reservation from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). The Companion Fare must be redeemed within 12 months of issue date, though the actual travel can take place after that, which essentially extends its usefulness to nearly two years. Even better, both travelers accrue full mileage credit for their flights. You must use your Alaska card to pay for the tickets. Depending on how you redeem your Companion Fare, it can be worth hundreds of dollars, especially on some of the airline’s more expensive routes, like those to Hawaii, and can more than offset either card’s annual fee each year.

Other benefits

Although Bank of America will not release details of each card’s benefits guide until you apply successfully, we’ve put together a list of their protections and other coverage from various sources online that seem to be fairly consistent and based on Visa Signature’s typical policies.

Related reading: Maximizing redemptions with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

If you have either card, you should expect travel accident insurance of up to $1 million, trip interruption/cancellation coverage up to $2,500 per person, trip delay coverage starting at 12 hours for up to $500 and lost luggage reimbursement up to $3,000. Auto rental insurance is secondary in the U.S., but primary abroad (when renting for business purposes with the business card).

Purchase protection is capped at $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account up to 90 days out, and warranties may be extended by up to a year. Finally, both cards waive foreign transaction fees.

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Business vs. personal

Given how similar the two cards are, your final and perhaps most significant consideration should be whether you need a personal credit card or if it’s worth applying for a business credit card.

There are a lot of reasons why a business credit card might be a better fit for your needs. Carrying and using one will help you separate your personal and work purchases, which in turn can even help boost your personal credit score over time. What’s more, if you are interested in applying for a Chase card in the future, the business card will not count toward your overall 5/24 limit, which can open up your options down the line.

You could even consider applying for both and raking in 80,000 Alaska miles to put toward future travel. While diversifying your points and miles is always a good idea, considering the value of Alaska miles and the fact that Mileage Plan does not have many great transfer partner options, opening both cards could be a good way to boost your balance in the short term.

Bottom line

Right now is a great time to apply for either (or both) the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card or the Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card. Both cards are currently offering historically high sign-up bonuses that not only include more miles than usual, but also add a Companion Fare in the first year into the bargain, which probably is worth holding the card on its own. With $75 annual fees, neither is that expensive to carry year after year, and both confer decent day-of-travel benefits when actually flying on the airline.

Featured image by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

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WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

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*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
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  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
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Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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