AwardWallet receives compensation from advertising partners for links on the blog. Terms Apply to the offers listed on this page. The opinions expressed here are our own and have not been reviewed, provided, or approved by any bank advertiser. Here's our complete list of Advertisers.
Alaska just launched its latest mileage sale, offering targeted Mileage Plan members the chance to buy miles with up to a 50% bonus. This promotion gives members the ability to buy Alaska miles for 1.97¢ a piece—which is a great deal for the right redemption. This up to 50% bonus runs now through June 25, 2022.
A Note on Buying Alaska Miles
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 Singapore Airlines—but it also offers some of the most lucrative points redemptions to their destinations. This was recently made even better with Alaska joining the Oneworld alliance on March 31, 2021.
Still, generally speaking, buying miles is not a good idea for most people. The reason for this is that you typically won't be able to redeem miles for a higher value than you purchased them.
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 are sometimes targeted, so 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 June 25, 2022, 11:59 p.m. PST to receive 50% bonus miles
- Miles are non-refundable and do not count towards elite status
- Maximum of 100,000 miles per transaction (before the bonus)
- Mileage Plan members without elite status may be credited up to a maximum 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, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K) have no limit on the number of miles that can be acquired through Points.com
Targeted members can buy Alaska miles at the following rates during this tiered promotion:
- 1,000-2,000 miles — no bonus
- 3,000-14,000 miles — 30% bonus
- 15,000-29,000 miles — 40% bonus
- 30,000-100,000 miles — 50% bonus
The minimum amount of Alaska miles that you can buy with a 50% bonus is 30,000 miles. You'll end up with 45,000 miles (30,000 miles + 15,000 bonus miles) for a cost of $886.88. That's 1.97¢ per mile.
If you were to maximize this offer, you'd receive 150,000 Alaska miles (100,000 miles + 50,000 bonus miles) for $2,956.25, or 1.97¢ 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.
The Value of Alaska Mileage Plan Miles
Alaska Mileage Plan miles are some of the most valuable miles around. In fact, of the 12 airlines that AwardWallet analyzed, Alaska Mileage Plan miles have the highest average value. In recent redemptions, AwardWallet users have got a whopping 4.46¢ per mile average redemption rate per Alaska Mileage Plan mile.
The catch: Alaska miles are only really valuable for certain redemptions. And we see that in the breakdown of redemption rate by flight type:
- Short-haul economy/premium economy: 1.29¢
- Short-haul business/first class: 3.19¢
- Long-haul economy/premium economy: 1.76¢
- Long-haul business/first class: 5.67¢
Thus, you're going to struggle to get enough value from Alaska Mileage Plan miles for economy and premium economy awards to justify buying miles at 1.97¢ each. However, first- and business-class awards can be an incredible use of Alaska miles. We will highlight some of these opportunities below.
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.
Dallas – Tokyo in Japan Airlines Business Class
- Mileage Rate: 60,000 miles
- Typical Cash Price: $8,292 round-trip
- Redemption Rate (based on round-trip price): 6.9 cents per mile
- Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles (at 1.97¢ per mile): $1,183 each way
Los Angeles – Fiji (stopover) – Auckland in Fiji Airways Business Class
- Mileage Rate: 55,000 miles
- Typical Cash Price: $2,867
- Redemption Rate: 5.2 cents per mile
- Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles (at 1.97¢ per mile): $1,084
Washington DC – Singapore in Cathay Business Class (with a stopover in Hong Kong)
- Mileage Rate: 50,000 miles
- Typical Cash Price: $4,665
- Redemption Rate: 9.3 cents per mile
- Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles (at 1.97¢ per mile): $985
Hong Kong – Dubai in Cathay Pacific Business Class
- Mileage Rate: 30,000 miles
- Typical Cash Price: $5,074
- Redemption Rate: 16.9 cents per mile
- Cost to Purchase Necessary Miles (at 1.97¢ per mile): $591
Potentially Get a Refund for the ‘Tax Recovery Fee'
The start of 2021 marked the return of the 7.5% Federal Excise Tax on domestic air travel — which Congress paused temporarily as part of the CARES Act in 2020. Alaska Airlines is responsible for levying this as part of ticket prices, as well as for mileage purchases. Since the airline partners with Points.com to process mileage purchases, Points.com passes it on to loyalty members—calling it a ‘Tax Recovery Fee'.
Interestingly, you may not have to pay it.
When domestic airlines levy a Federal Excise Tax on mileage purchases, it's with the assumption that the purchased miles will be used for domestic air travel. However, as many award travelers are probably aware, this often isn't the case. If you use those purchased miles for international travel, hotel stays, gift cards, or any other redemption, you should be able to get it refunded.
To learn more, check out Gary Leff's post about it at View From The Wing. If you get the fee refunded, this promotion's best rate drops to just 1.83¢ per mile.
Alaska Buy Miles History
We have compiled a list of former Alaska Airlines buy miles promotions. As you can see, there have been a few previous promotions that offered a better 60% bonus. The promotions held in October, June, and May 2020 offered a 60% bonus and lacked the Federal Excise Tax, resulting in the best rate we've seen at 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 steadily increased the frequency and bonuses that it's offering through mileage sales. Before 2020, 50% was the best bonus Alaska would typically offer. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have now seen ten instances where the airline has offered a 60% bonus — including some without the Tax Recovery Fee. This current offer falls short of the best offers, but this can still be a great deal for the right type of redemption.
Would you buy Alaska Mileage Plan Miles for 1.97¢ each?
The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.