Credit card showdown: Alaska Airlines Visa Signature vs. Alaska Airlines Business Visa
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest information.
With many travelers making their first trips in over a year, now is a good time to consider opening a new airline credit card. Several cards are offering historically high sign-up bonuses. Indeed, now might actually be one of the best times to apply, with travel rebounding.
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In addition to how useful Alaska Airlines miles can be, another good reason to consider these cards is that they are both issued by Bank of America.
If you have reached your limit with American Express cards or are affected by Chase’s 5/24 rule, it is probably a good idea to look to other banks for your next credit card, including these two Alaska options.
Here’s a quick comparison chart of the two products and their individual benefits.
|Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card||Alaska Airlines Visa Business card|
|Annual fee||$75||$50 per company, $25 per card (so $75 for the first card)|
|Sign-up bonus||50,000 miles plus Companion Fare (from $121; $99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.||60,000 miles plus Companion Fare (from $121; $99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.|
|Earning||3 miles per dollar on eligible Alaska purchases
1 mile per dollar on other purchases
|3 miles per dollar on eligible Alaska purchases
1 mile per dollar on other purchases
|Alaska benefits||Annual Companion Fare
Free checked bag
50% off Alaska Lounge day passes
20% off inflight food, beverages, Wi-Fi
|Annual Companion Fare
Free checked bag
50% off Alaska Lounge day passes
20% off in-flight food, beverages, Wi-Fi
|Other benefits||No foreign transaction fees
|No foreign transaction fees|
Now let’s look into the details and discuss how they match up.
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 card costs $50 per account plus $25 per card. So if you have a single card as the business owner, you will also have to pay $75 total per year, though you can obviously take out more cards at an additional expense.
The two cards are currently offering attractive sign-up bonuses with one major difference.
Approved applicants for the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card are eligible for 60,000 bonus miles after they make purchases of $3,000 or more within the first 90 days of account opening, and receive 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, 60,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles are worth around $1,080. However, you can get a ton of value from your Alaska Airlines miles thanks to Mileage Plan’s phenomenal roster of Oneworld and non-alliance partners, including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways, JAL, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.
If you apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card instead and are approved, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus miles and the Companion Fare after you make $2,000 or more in purchases with your new card in the first 90 days of account opening.
While that’s a lot fewer miles, it’s also a lot less money to lay out right off the bat. So if your budget is tight, the personal card might be a better option for you. Though if you can afford it, aim for the business card instead.
Related: Alaska Airlines Visa Business review
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.
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 card afford cardholders a free checked bag for themselves and up to six guests on the same reservation. Cardholders with either product 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).
When you book a round-trip economy 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 the 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 and are eligible for upgrades. The cardholder themselves doesn’t even have to be flying, but they must use their 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.
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 110,000 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 raise your balance in the short term.
Both are currently offering solid 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 up to $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.
Additional reporting by Chris Dong.
Featured photo by VDB Photos/Shutterstock.
Updated on 9/9/21
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