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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 has 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.
There's a unique twist to this promotion. If you buy at least 30,000 miles with a 50% bonus, you'll unlock the opportunity to get up to a 60% bonus on your next miles purchase between October 5-31, 2020.
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 again, and financial uncertainty affects many of us—Alaska Airlines included.
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.
This Alaska mileage sale may be targeted, so different members may see different bonuses. You'll have to log-in to your account to see which bonus you've received. The general terms for everyone include the following:
- Must purchase by August 26, 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
Here's how this 50% bonus promotion works:
- Buy 1,000-2,000 miles with no bonus
- Get a 40% bonus when buying 3,000-29,000 miles
- Get a 50% bonus when buying 30,000-100,000 miles
If you were to maximize this offer, you'd be buying 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 most people assign to Alaska miles, meaning it might be a good deal for some people, depending on their situation.
Opportunity for 60% Bonus Miles
Buying Alaska miles with a 50% bonus has generally been the best rate to buy Mileage Plan miles. But, we have seen two recent Alaska promotions that have offered a new best-ever 60% bonus. If you want to buy Alaska miles for just 1.72¢ each, you can buy 30,000 or more Alaska miles during this promotion to unlock “a VIP offer” of up to 60% bonus between October 5-31, 2020.
The ability to guarantee a 60% bonus is pretty lucrative. However, that means buying less miles now and potentially having to sit on them until stocking up during the October 2020 promotion.
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: $1,292.50
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. There are only a couple of promotions that have offered a better rate:
|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 this sale, we have only seen a 60% bonus once, and that was just in May 2020. Generally, a 50% bonus is the best that Alaska has offered.
Traveling is not an option right now, and we aren't sure when it will be again. This means it's probably not a good idea to purchase miles speculatively, even at the best price ever offered. 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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