Alaska Airlines Visa Business review: Earn 40,000 miles and a companion fare
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Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card overview
The Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit 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, which makes the Alaska Airlines business card surprisingly valuable. The Alaska program is one of the few where you’ll still earn miles based on the distance flown and you can add free stopovers on award flights, even one-way tickets. On top of that, some of the award prices from 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 a big reason why TPG values Alaska Airlines miles higher than the miles you can earn with other major airlines.
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Alaska Airlines has announced plans to join the Oneworld alliance by mid-2021 and has cemented a new partnership with American Airlines. We don’t know what impact this will have on the Alaska Mileage Plan program, but I’m planning to earn and burn Alaska Airlines miles before things change. So now is a great time to apply for this card.
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 because 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 freelance or independent contractor. That means that driving for Uber/Lyft, pet sitting or food delivery 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.
Related reading: Join TPG’s new community for small-business owners and leaders
After spending $2,000 or more in the first 90 days from opening the account, you’ll earn 40,000 Alaska miles and an Alaska Airlines companion fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). This isn’t the biggest airline credit card bonus, but it is still quite valuable. TPG values Alaska miles at 1.8 cents each, making these miles worth $720 in airfare. Anytime you can earn more than $500 from a sign-up bonus, that’s an offer worth looking at. This is also a higher bonus than we’ve seen in the past when it usually hovered around the 30,000-mile mark.
You can potentially save a few hundred dollars more if you maximize the companion fare. The companion fare is valid on all Alaska Airlines flights; you pay just $99 plus the taxes and fees for the companion. 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.
Related reading: Maximizing the Alaska Airlines Visa companion fare
Main benefits and perks
The Alaska Airlines business card 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.
Related Reading: How to avoid checked baggage fees on major domestic airlines
But what really makes this card shine is the annual companion fare you’ll get when you meet the card’s minimum spending requirements within 90 days and every subsequent year after your account anniversary. 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 the companion fare every year without having to a meet huge minimum spending requirement and that you’re still eligible for upgrades makes it one of the better airline card companion tickets. The card also has 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 flights with Alaska Airlines you’ll pay 5,000-12,500 miles each way. This can be a good value but you can maximize your Mileage Plan miles with Alaska’s partners. There is a different award chart for each partner airline, so they won’t all offer the same value. Also, award space with Cathay Pacific and LATAM won’t appear on the Alaska Airlines website, so you’ll need to call to book with those partners.
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 in business class with Cathay Pacific or Hainan Airlines 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.
Related Reading: Best ways to use miles to fly to Australia
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. 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.
Alternatives to the Alaska Airlines Business card
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 points and even then the transfer ratio is 3:1. So Marriott credit cards are a great option if you want to amass Alaska miles.
But, if you want a more rewarding travel credit card for your business spending, there are better options. The American Express® Business Gold Card card 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 year, then 1x) are great options.
The Alaska Airlines Visa Business card has a valuable welcome offer, low annual fee and lucrative ongoing perks. For most people, it’s a card that’s easy to justify opening and keeping long-term, if you’ll take advantage of the companion fare.
But this isn’t a great card for getting rewarded for your business spending. It only earns 1x miles for all purchases outside of Alaska Airlines purchases.
Featured photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy