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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 targeted Mileage Plan members up to 60% bonus miles. Targeted members who maximize this sale will have the ability to buy Alaska Miles for 1.72¢ a piece—the cheapest Alaska has ever sold them!
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 is 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 October 31, 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.
60% Bonus Miles
Members targeted for the 60% bonus can buy Alaska miles using the following structure:
- Buy 1,000-2,000 miles with no bonus
- Buy 3,000-39,000 miles, get a 50% bonus
- Buy 40,000-100,000 miles, get a 60% bonus
Meanwhile, members that are only targeted for a 50% bonus are seeing:
- 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 be buying 160,000 Alaska miles (100,000 miles + 60,000 bonus miles) for $2,750, or 1.72¢ 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.
There's one strange aspect of this offer though. The terms for purchasing Alaska miles limit non-elite members to 150k miles per year through points.com—the website that processes these purchases. However, after the 60% bonus, targeted members would receive 160k miles—which is more than the maximum amount per the terms and conditions.
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 1.72¢): $387
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 1.72¢ per mile): $946
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: $1,210
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. But, the current promotion ties the May and June 2020 promotions as the best we've seen yet:
|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 twice, and that was earlier this year. Generally, a 50% bonus is the best that Alaska has offered.
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 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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