New 40K Bonus Plus $0 Companion Fare Offer: Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card Review New 40K Bonus Plus $0 Companion Fare Offer: Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card Review

New 40K Bonus Plus $0 Companion Fare Offer: Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card Review

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The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card has been a favorite of ours for years as it provides a rare way to earn valuable Alaska Mileage Plan miles. However, the card hadn't seen an overhaul in years. That streak ended in March 2023 when Alaska and Bank of America refreshed the card with additional benefits — including priority boarding, a free checked bag for authorized users, new spending bonus categories, a discounted lounge membership, and more.

Now in June 2023, Alaska is sweetening this card's sign-up bonus with a twist on its “Famous Companion Fare”. Instead of the standard $99 base fare to add a companion, you only have to pay the taxes (starting at $23) when utilizing the Companion Fare earned through this sign-up bonus.

Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card
Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus LIMITED TIME ONLINE OFFER - Buy One Get One is Back! Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ + 40,000 Bonus Miles. Buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) and get 40,000 bonus miles with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on eligible gas, cable, streaming services and local transit including ride share purchases
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases

But does the Alaska Visa Card deserve a spot in your wallet? Let's dig into what you need to know about the card and whether it's worth it.

Welcome Bonus

The Alaska Visa Card is currently offering eligible new cardholders 40,000 Bonus Miles + Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™. You'll need to spend $3,000 in qualifying purchases in the first 90 days after opening your account.

In recent AwardWallet user redemptions, Alaska Mileage Plan miles have provided an average redemption value of 2.57¢ per mile. That means this sign-up bonus could be worth more than $1,000 toward Mileage Plan redemptions. And you may be able to 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 after meeting spending requirements. Alaska's Companion Fare lets another traveler fly with you on any Alaska Airlines flight for as little as $23 ($0 fare plus taxes and fees).

Alaska Visa Card Benefits

Alaska and Bank of America recently added a slew of new benefits to the Alaska Visa Card as part of this card refresh in March 2023. 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 Visa 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 Visa 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 recent enhancement, authorized users and co-applicants of the Alaska Visa 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.

Priority Boarding

Another benefit added to the Alaska Visa Card is that 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 Visa Card until now.

$100 Alaska Lounge+ Membership Discount

Another recent benefit added to the Alaska Visa 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 Visa 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.

Earning Miles

In addition to the bonus miles earned through the sign-up bonus, Alaska Visa 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 Visa 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:

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 1.17¢ for short-haul economy and 1.32¢ 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 a couple of 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

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Sweet Spots Boston to Bangkok with a stopover in Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific

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

Screenshot showing Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan sweet spot award from San Francisco to Auckland with a stopover in Nadi on Fiji Airways

Application Eligibility / Restrictions

Potential new cardholders should beware of a few application restrictions before signing up for the Alaska Visa 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.

Final Thoughts

The Alaska Visa Card recently 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 account holders, and new spending bonus categories.

Add in a decent bonus of 40,000 Bonus Miles + Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™, and now is a great time to give the Alaska Visa Card a closer look.

5 / 5 - (7 votes)
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  • Can you purchase a first class ticket ticket and get a companion first class ticket for free?

    • Unfortunately, the Alaska Companion Fare is only valid for economy (“The companion fare entitles the cardholder to purchase one round-trip coach companion fare on Alaska Airlines”). However, Alaska does confirm that first-class upgrades are still possible when using the Companion Fare (“When traveling on a companion fare, you are eligible for all upgrades we offer. You can upgrade using miles, elite + companion upgrades, guest upgrades, or paid upgrades that may be offered at check-in.”)

  • My old Alaska card is just passing two yrs old so time for a refresh. After I cancel it, the answer to this seems obvious to me, which makes me think I’m missing some subtlety:

    Apply for the new card at 70K+ $100 or
    Use the inflight code to get 72K for a card.

    The former is the right choice, right? Then keep the card for two years and cancel.

    • Yeah, I’d definitely do the former. That $100 could buy you more than 2k miles if you need more miles 🙂

  • I opened an Alaska Airlines BoA credit card in August 2020 and closed it one year later in September 2021. Would the 24-month restriction apply to when I first opened my last Alaska Airline credit card or when I closed the account?

    • From a strict reading of the terms, your 24-month clock started when you closed your card in September 2021. However, several data points are pointing to this not being applied – especially after the recent card revamp. Of course, YMMV.

  • I just got the 50,000 mile $2,000 spend card just two months ago. Do you think they can upgrade me to this offer if I complain to customer service?

  • My apologies, JT. Somehow, I glossed right over that. Should have known better.

    On 1/5/2023, both P2 and I received a Change in Terms document from BofA in regard to this. The comments were in a section labeled, “Benefits you will continue to enjoy.”

    “Receive an annual companion fare which allows you to book a companion flight from $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23).6

    Additional restrictions apply. See Program Rules for details.”

    I could not find a way to “click through” to see the Program Rules.

    Our respective card anniversary dates are April(me) and August (P2). Wonder if the changes will take effect then? P2 has had her card only ~5 months. A combined $12K spend will be difficult to achieve.

    • All good Steve! I heard back from our BOA contact: “An active Qualifying Account is an open consumer (non-business) checking or savings account with Bank of America N.A. or an investment account with Merrill that maintains an average daily balance greater than $0 or a Bank of America checking or savings account that has had a deposit or withdrawal within 90 days.”
      I’m following up since that doesn’t answer your joint account question. I’ll follow up when I know more.

  • JT,

    The article doesn’t mention the new 10% Relationship Bonus miles earned on spend if the cardholder has a “qualified” account (personal, not business), e.g., checking or savings account with BofA.

    Both P2 and I have the card. Could we open a joint account, say, a joint savings account and have the account be used for both of our cards, OR do we each need to have a separate account with BoFA?

    • Steve: This post mentions that 10% bonus in the Earning Miles section: “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.”

      However, I’m not sure about your specific questions. Let’s see if I can get an answer from BOA.

  • This offer popped up for me when I went to book a ticket. I actually already have an Alaska card, but AS has historically allowed multiple cards and apparently still are as they issued the card.

  • David Miller says:

    What if you’ve had the old card at $75/yr for many years? I’m happy to pay the extra $20 AF if it gives me all this — but do these bennies apply to the old one, too, or will I be expected to change cards altogether? I once took Cathay Pacific first class to Hong Kong rather cheaply via my Alaska card — love to do that again. Thanks.

    • Great question. You should already have access to all of these benefits. I’m also a current cardholder and received an email laying out these new benefits. The only thing I’m not sure of is when our annual fee will increase to the new rate.

  • Do you happen to know when is the offer end date? Thank you!

    • We don’t have an end date at this time. But we will post an update if we do get a heads up before this offer is pulled.

  • Do you know if flights booked with points qualify for free bags and relative priority boarding?

    • We don’t have a confirmation for sure, but it seems like you will get priority boarding on Alaska Mileage Plan bookings on Alaska if you use your card to pay the taxes/fees: “Airfare must be purchased with your Alaska Airlines credit card to qualify for this benefit. To receive priority boarding, the Primary cardholder must include their Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ number in their reservation. Priority boarding is only available on flights marketed by Alaska Airlines and operated by Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, or SkyWest”

  • Great deal
    Lounge AS access
    companion fare’
    70k points

    Add to portfolio.