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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is our favorite frequent flyer program, and for good reasons. Not only does it partner with several amazing airlines—such as Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and Emirates—but it also offers some of the most lucrative points redemptions to their destinations.
Alaska recently launched its latest mileage sale, offering Mileage Plan members up to 50% bonus miles. Members who maximize this sale will have the ability to buy Alaska Miles for 1.83¢ a piece.
A Note on Buying Alaska Miles
Generally speaking, buying miles is not a good idea for most people. The reason for this being that you typically won't be able to redeem miles for a higher value than you purchased them. This is particularly true now, while the world sits in anticipation of when we'll be able to travel freely again.
With that said, there are some cases where it can make sense to buy miles. First, buying miles can still make sense if you need to top off your balance to complete a specific redemption. Second, you should consider buying miles if the cost is considerably cheaper than paying for the product you want outright. Both of these exceptions are magnified when there's a mileage sale—like there is right now.
Alaska mileage sales have been known to be targeted, so it's possible that different members may see different bonuses. You'll have to log-in to your account to confirm which bonus you'll receive. But, the general terms for everyone include the following:
- Must purchase by December 23, 2020, 11:59 p.m. PST to receive bonus miles
- Miles are non-refundable and do not count towards MVP and MVP/Gold Status
- Maximum 100,000 miles per transaction (before the mileage bonus)
- Your Mileage Plan account may be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles acquired through Points.com in a calendar year, whether purchased by you or gifted to you.
- Members with Alaska elite status (MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K) have no limit on the number of miles that can be acquired through Points.com.
50% Bonus Miles
Members targeted for the 50% bonus can buy Alaska miles using the following structure:
- Buy 1,000-2,000 miles with no bonus
- Buy 3,000-29,000 miles, get a 40% bonus
- Buy 30,000-100,000 miles, get a 50% bonus
If you were to maximize this offer, you'd receive 150,000 Alaska miles (100,000 miles + 50,000 bonus miles) for $2,750, or 1.83¢ per mile. This purchase rate is less than the value that some people assign to Alaska miles, meaning it might be a good deal for some people, depending on their situation.
Buying Miles for Alaska Partner Redemptions
In our previous post detailing Mileage Plan sweet spots, we listed several of the top-value redemptions possible with Alaska miles. Let's pick three of these sweet spots and compare the typical cash price with the cost to purchase the necessary miles under the terms of the best offer.
Hong Kong – Dubai in Cathay Pacific Business Class
- Mileage Rate: 22,500 miles
- Typical Cash Price: $4,800
- Redemption Rate: 21.3 cents per mile
- Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles (at 1.83¢): $412
Los Angeles – Fiji (stopover) – Auckland in Fiji Airways Business Class
- Mileage Rate: 55,000 miles
- Typical Cash Price: $3,100
- Redemption Rate: 5.6 cents per mile
- Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles (at 1.83¢ per mile): $1,007
Dallas – Sydney in Qantas First Class
- Mileage Rate: 70,000 miles
- Typical Cash Price: $11,700
- Redemption Rate: 16.7 cents per mile
- Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles: $1,293
Alaska Buy Miles History
We have compiled a list of former Alaska buy miles promotions. As you can see, there have been plenty of former promotions that offered 50% bonus miles. The promotions held in October, June, and May offered the best rate we've previously seen, offering up to a 60% bonus, or 1.72¢ per mile.
|Promotion Ended||Max Bonus||Min Cents Per Mile||Targeted|
Keep in mind that purchasing Alaska Mileage Plan miles won't code as travel, so it's best to use an everyday spending card.
Alaska Airlines has been steadily increasing the frequency and bonuses that it's offering through mileage sales. Before 2020, 50% was the best bonus Alaska would typically offer. However, we've seen three instances this year where the airline has beaten it with a 60% bonus. If you're willing to wait, it's possible that Alaska may bring back that rate again in the coming months.
We aren't sure when traveling is going to get back to normal. So, it's probably not a good idea to purchase miles speculatively, even at such a great price. With that said, as long as you're not buying miles intending to travel soon and you recognize all of the risks involved, this can still be a great deal.
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