Alaska Airlines Makes Negative Change to the Companion Fare
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
One of the most valuable perks of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is the annual companion fare. With it, a friend or family member can travel with you on an Alaska-operated coach flight booked on alaskaair.com for just $99 plus any taxes and fees on the ticket (which typically start at ~$22). Up until this point, you could use any credit card to pay for the ticket, but that's changing soon.
TPG reader Max recently emailed us with an unfortunate discovery he made while reviewing the companion fare FAQ page on Alaska's website:
"For companion fares issued on or after October 1, 2019, both the primary fare and the companion fare must be purchased using your Alaska Airlines credit card."
One of the nice things about this benefit was that you didn't actually need to use the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card to pay for the ticket. The card's 3x earning rate on eligible Alaska purchases is great (a 5.4% return based on TPG’s most recent valuations), but there are a few more rewarding options for airfare purchases, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express that offers 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare (a 10% return) booked directly with the airlines or through American Express Travel and the Chase Sapphire Reserve that offers 3x Ultimate Rewards points on all travel purchases (a 6% return) (excluding the $300 travel credit), as well some of the best travel protections.
Although the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card offers a respectable return on Alaska purchases, not being able to use a different card to pay for the companion fare is a bummer. On the bright side, the card recently added some new perks, including discounts on inflight purchases and lounge passes, as well as the introduction of free inflight surprises for card holders.
For more info on the companion ticket and how to get the most value out of it, see TPG Senior Points & Miles Editor Nick Ewen’s story on “Maximizing the Alaska Airlines Visa Companion Fare.”