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The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card has been a favorite of ours for years. In addition to earning valuable Alaska Mileage Plan miles, the card's Famous Companion Fare™ alone has been worth the annual fee. However, the card hasn't seen an overhaul in years. That streak ends now.
Now, Alaska and Bank of America have refreshed the card with additional benefits like priority boarding, a free checked bag for authorized users, new spending bonus categories, a discounted lounge membership, and more — all for a slightly higher $95 annual fee.
All of these changes may have you wondering if the Alaska Visa Card is worth considering. Let's dig into what you need to know about the card and whether it's worth it.
- Welcome Bonus
- Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card Benefits
- Earning Miles
- Redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan Miles
- Application Eligibility / Restrictions
- Final Thoughts
The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card is currently offering eligible new cardholders a 70,000-mile sign-up bonus. You'll need to spend $3,000 in qualifying purchases in the first 90 days after opening your account.
Outside of targeted offers, this is the largest sign-up bonus that we've seen offered on the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card. Considering how valuable Alaska Mileage Plan miles are, this sign-up bonus is easily worth more than $1,000 toward Mileage Plan redemptions. And you can easily get even more value than that by taking advantage of sweet spots (more about those below).
Plus, new cardholders will earn Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ as an additional benefit of meeting the sign-up bonus spending requirements. Alaska's Companion Fare lets another traveler fly with you on any Alaska Airlines flight for as little as $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees).
Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card Benefits
Alaska and Bank of America added a lot of new benefits to the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card as part of this recent card refresh. New benefits include priority boarding, a free checked bag for authorized users, plus a discount on Alaska Lounge membership. With these benefits added, let's review all of the benefits of carrying the Alaska Visa Card.
Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™
In addition to earning an Alaska Companion Fare as part of the sign-up bonus, Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card cardholders can earn an Alaska Companion Fare every account anniversary. However, you'll now need to spend $6,000 or more in the previous cardholder year in order to earn this Companion Pass.
That spending requirement is new. Previously, cardholders received an Alaska Companion Fare each year without having to meet spending requirements. But compared to other companion passes earned through airline credit cards, this spending requirement is quite reasonable.
Free Checked Bag on Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card cardholders get a free checked bag each time they book an Alaska Airlines flight with their card. Even better, up to six travel companions can also check a bag for free — but only if they are booked on your same reservation.
And in a new enhancement, authorized users and co-applicants of the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card now also get this free checked bag benefit. That's a huge improvement considering primary cardholders can add authorized users for no additional annual fee.
[New] Priority Boarding
In another new benefit of the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card, cardholders now get priority boarding when flying on Alaska Airlines. That's a benefit available on many other airline co-branded credit cards but has been missing from the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card until now.
[New] $100 Alaska Lounge+ Membership Discount
Another new benefit added to the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card is a $100 discount on an Alaska Lounge+ membership. This membership grants you access to the nine Alaska Lounge locations plus more than 90 partner lounges — including American Airlines Admirals Club, Qantas Club, and even some United Club lounges.
After the $100 discount, Alaska Mileage Plan members will need to pay $500 for a year-long membership. Note that this discount doesn't extend to the base “Alaska Lounge” membership — which includes access to just the nine Alaska Lounges.
20% Savings on In-Flight Purchases
Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card cardholders get 20% back on all in-flight purchases on Alaska Airlines. That includes purchases of food, beers, wines, spirits, and even Wi-Fi.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
This is a pretty standard benefit on many travel credit cards, but an important one nonetheless.
In addition to the bonus miles earned through the sign-up bonus, Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card cardholders earn Mileage Plan miles through everyday spending. Here's how you will earn Mileage Plan miles:
- 3x miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.
- 2x miles on eligible gas, cable, streaming services, local transit (including ride share), trains, even tolls and ferries
- 1x miles on all other purchases
Another great new benefit of the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card is that eligible Bank of America account holders now earn 10% bonus miles on all miles earned for purchases. That means eligible cardholders will earn 1,100 Alaska miles for every 1,000 miles otherwise earned through card purchases. That can effectively boost the earning rate on Alaska Airlines purchases to 3.3x miles.
Cardholders don't earn toward elite status through credit card spending — like on Alaska's oneworld partner American. However, Alaska Airlines has run promotions offering bonus elite-qualifying miles through credit card spending.
Redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan Miles
Benefits like a free checked bag and priority boarding are nice. But what we at AwardWallet are all about is how you can maximize your miles for nearly-free travel. So, let's take a look at how you can redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
How Alaska's Award Chart Works
Unlike many of its peers, Alaska Airlines still publishes an award chart. Actually, it publishes many award charts. That's because Alaska uses a different award chart for redemptions on each one of its partner airlines. That means you will likely see different redemption rates for awards based on the airline that you fly — even between the same origin and destination airport.
More Award Booking Options Than Ever Before
Since joining the oneworld alliance in March 2021, Alaska Airlines added new partner award bookings on oneworld and non-alliance partner airlines, including:
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Ravn Alaska
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian
- SriLankan Airlines
In addition, Alaska now lets Mileage Plan members book Cathay Pacific and LATAM awards online. That's a hugely positive development considering Cathay Pacific awards are some of the most valuable awards in the Mileage Plan program.
Sweet Spots of the Mileage Plan Program
AwardWallet users have redeemed Mileage Plan miles for an average redemption rate of 1.19¢ for short-haul economy and 1.36¢ for long-haul economy. That means you generally won't get outsized value from Mileage Plan miles for economy awards.
Instead, the best value of Alaska Mileage Plan miles is for premium cabin partner awards. Even better, you can book a stopover on a one-way award for no additional miles. By combining these, you can book some truly incredible awards with Mileage Plan miles. Here are just three examples.
Boston to Bangkok with a stopover in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific:
- 30,000 Mileage Plan miles in economy
- 35,000 Mileage Plan miles in premium economy
- 50,000 Mileage Plan miles in business class
Dallas to Delhi with a stopover in Tokyo on Japan Airlines:
- 35,000 Mileage Plan miles in economy
- 60,000 Mileage Plan miles in business class
Los Angeles to Sydney with a stopover in Fiji on Fiji Airways:
- 40,000 Mileage Plan miles in economy
- 55,000 Mileage Plan miles in business class
Application Eligibility / Restrictions
Potential new cardholders should beware of a few application restrictions before signing up for the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card. Only one of these rules is explicitly stated in the card's terms and conditions:
This card may not be available to you if you currently have or have had the card in the preceding 24 month period
The other application restrictions are unwritten guidelines accumulated by cardholders. The first is Bank of America's 2/3/4 Policy. This policy limits the number of Bank of America cards that you can get in a particular time period to:
- 2 new Bank of America cards in any 2-month period
- 3 new Bank of America cards in any 12-month period
- 4 new Bank of America cards in any 24-month period
Finally, Bank of America is also known to look at how many cards you've opened in the past 12 months with any card issuer. If you don't have a Bank of America deposit account, you're generally limited to three new cards in the past 12 months. Applicants with a Bank of America bank account have a much-higher threshold of seven cards in the past 12 months.
The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card just got its first major refresh in years. Although the card now has a slightly higher $95 annual fee, Alaska more than justified this higher fee with new benefits like priority boarding, a free checked bag for authorized users, a lounge membership discount, bonus miles for eligible Bank of America accountholders, and new spending bonus categories.
Add in a new best-ever bonus of 70,000 miles and now is a great time to give the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card a closer look.
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