Alaska Airlines Visa Signature review: 40K mile bonus, plus (limited-time) 2x miles on restaurants and an easy path to elite status
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The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is now offering a limited-time bonus of 40,000-mile bonus and a $100 statement credit after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. You’ll also receive an Alaska Airlines Companion fare for $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22) when used with a paid coach airfare. This can save you hundreds of dollars, and you even get another companion fare every year on your account anniversary, making it one of the best airline credit cards.
With a favorable award-redemption chart and variety of airline partners, Alaska Airlines miles are among the most valuable airline miles out there. You certainly don’t have to live in Alaska to get great value out of them. Alaska Airlines has hubs in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Anchorage and has focus cities in San Jose and San Diego. It also has great redemption options on partner airlines that can take you all over the world. But there aren’t many travel credit cards that earn Alaska miles, so they are harder to come by.
Plus, Alaska Airlines has temporarily made it easier to earn redeemable and elite qualifying miles.
Who is the Alaska Airlines credit card for?
Alaska Airlines operates most of its hub and focus cities on the West Coast, but earning Alaska Airlines miles is a great idea no matter where you live. The airline has so many great partners, each with its own separate award chart. So there are lots of great deals available with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program.
Alaska Airlines miles are some of the best for flying to Asia in business or first class because Alaska is partners with Cathay Pacific, Hainan Airlines, Korean Air and Japan Airlines. The award prices for Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines are particularly generous. You can fly in business class to Asia for 50,000-60,000 each way with these partners.
The biggest drawback to Alaska Airlines miles is that there just aren’t that many ways to earn them. Other than this card, and the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card, the only major transferable points that convert into Alaska miles are Marriott points.
With the Alaska Airlines credit card you can earn 40,000 Alaska Airlines miles, a $100 statement credit and an Alaska Airlines companion fare after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. With this companion fare, a friend can fly with you for just $99 plus taxes and fees (from $22). This can save you hundreds of dollars on airfare.
Benefits and perks
When you use your Alaska Airlines credit card, you earn:
- 3 miles per dollar on Alaska Airlines purchases
- 2 miles per dollar at restaurants (between June 1 and July 31, 2020, on up to $1,500 in eligible purchases)
- 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
Easier to earn elite status
Between June 1 and September 30, 2020, you can earn 2,500 elite qualifying miles for every $5,000 you spend with your card, up to 10,000 elite qualifying miles in total. Read more about what this means here.
Along with the great sign-up bonus, the card comes with an Alaska Airlines companion fare after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. But what makes this companion fare the most attractive perk of the card is that you earn another companion fare annually for as long as you keep the card.
To use the companion fare, simply search for an itinerary for two people and apply the unique coupon code that is automatically deposited in your Alaska Airlines account. The cost of the second passenger is just $99 + taxes and fees. This can equate to huge savings. For example, looking at a flight from Chicago to Anchorage, the price for one passenger is $496, including $57 in taxes and fees. If we apply the companion fare to this itinerary, a second passenger would cost an additional $99 plus $57 in taxes and fees. This would bring the total for two passengers to $652, or $326 per person. That’s a savings of $340.
But we can do even better. You can use the Alaska Airlines credit card companion fare on itineraries with a stopover as well. Take a look at this itinerary from New York to Kauai with a stopover in Seattle.
When we apply the Alaska Airlines credit card companion fare to this itinerary, a second passenger costs an additional $99 plus $89 in taxes and fees. This would bring the total for two passengers to $1007, or $503 per person – a savings of $631.
Free checked bags
The Alaska Airlines credit card benefits include a free checked bag for you and up to six passengers on your reservation – a savings of $30 per person in baggage fees each way (a great perk if you don’t have Alaska Airlines elite status).
No foreign transaction fees
You also have no foreign transaction fees.
You will get a 50% credit when you buy Alaska lounge day passes with the card and 20% back on eligible inflight Alaska Airlines purchases.
How to redeem Alaska Airlines miles
With perhaps the best all-around award chart of any U.S. airline, the 40,000-mile welcome bonus can go a long way and there are so many ways you can use Alaska Airlines miles. Better yet, Alaska lets you book a free stopover on one-way tickets. For example, an award ticket from New York to Kauai costs 15,000 miles, but you can add a free stop in Portland for seven days at no extra cost. You can book these stopovers by searching with the multi-city option. You can then book a separate one-way award with a stopover in a different city coming back.
Between these two itineraries, you could fly from New York with stops in Portland, Kauai, San Jose and back to New York for only 30,000 miles and $22 in taxes and fees. Or you could even book an open jaw in Hawaii by booking a return flight from another Hawaiian airport.
This gives you the ability to book an itinerary from New York with a stopover in Portland before arriving in Kauai and then you could return from Honolulu with a stopover in Los Angeles before ending in New York. You would have to book a separate flight from Kauai to Honolulu, but the rest of the itinerary would still cost just 30,000 miles and $22 in taxes and fees. That’s an incredible deal.
Using Alaska Airlines miles on partner airlines
You can also redeem Alaska Airlines miles for flights on airline partners. Alaska Airlines is not yet a member of the oneworld alliance, but they have great partner options across all alliances, including:
- Aer Lingus
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- El Al
- Fiji Airways
- Hainan Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Korean Air
- LATAM Airlines
- Ravn Alaska
- Singapore Airlines
You can get great redemption value on some of these airline partners. Here are some examples of what you can do with the 40,000-mile sign-up bonus on Alaska Airlines partners from the U.S.:
- One way to Thailand in premium economy on Cathay Pacific (35,000 miles)
- One way to Australia in coach on Cathay Pacific (40,000 miles)
- Round trip to Aruba in coach on American Airlines (35,000 miles)
- Round trip to Peru in coach on American Airlines (40,000 miles)
- One way to India in coach on Japan Airlines (40,000 miles)
For just 5,000 miles more (45,000 miles total), you can fly round-trip coach from the U.S. to Europe between October 15 and March 15 on American Airlines. And Alaska’s award chart for Qantas is also pretty incredible, take a look at these prices from the U.S. to Australia:
Qantas first-class awards can be scarce, but 55,000 miles for a business-class award to/from Australia is a great deal. Speaking of great deals to Australia, you could also fly Fiji Airways from the U.S. to Australia for only 55,000 miles in business class and you could add in a free stopover in Fiji. Granted, Fiji Airways’ business class pales in comparison to Qantas, but that’s still a heck of a trip.
Booking flights on Alaska Airlines partners is just as easy as booking an Alaska Airlines flight. You can do so right on the website. The only exceptions are flights on LATAM and Cathay Pacific, which you have to book by calling Alaska Airlines reservations at 800-252-7522.
Is the Alaska Airlines credit card worth the annual fee?
The Alaska Airlines credit card is worth the annual fee if you can use the companion fare, which can easily save you several hundred dollars every year. This far outweighs the $75 annual fee.
Additionally, you get a free checked bag, discounts on lounge passes and inflight purchases and have an easy way to earn elusive Alaska Airlines miles.
When you’re taking advantage of Alaska Airlines’ generous routing rules and trying to add a stopover on your award flight there are two things to consider. First, you can generally only add a free stopover in one of that airline’s hub cities. So for Cathay Pacific it would be Hong Kong and with Alaska you could add a stopover in Portland or San Francisco, as examples.
The other restriction is that when you are booking partner Alaska Airlines awards you can only have a single partner per award, in addition to Alaska Airlines. You can get around this restriction by booking two one-way flights instead of a round-trip. I did this on a trip to Asia. I flew Alaska Airlines to San Francisco (had a 1-day visit in the city) on my way to Tokyo on Japan Airlines. After a week in Tokyo I flew Cathay Pacific back home with a stopover in Hong Kong. The downside to booking your flights this way is that if you need to make changes you could potentially pay double the change or cancellation fees because you’ll have two tickets instead of one.
Pairing the Alaska Airlines credit card with other credit cards
If you are a business owner and would like to earn Alaska Airlines miles for business expenses, consider the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card. The perks of the Alaska Airlines business card are almost identical to the great perks listed above. You’ll need good-to-excellent credit to get approved for the Alaska Airlines credit card. If you’re new to rewards credit cards, we always recommend you apply for the Chase credit cards you want first, because of their strict 5/24 rule.
Bank of America also limits the number of new credit cards you can open with them. You cannot open more than two Bank of America credit cards in two months, three in 12 months, or four in 24 months. Additionally, you will not get approved for this card if you have or have had the card in the previous 24 months.
If these limitations mean you won’t be eligible for this card, you could look into opening one of the Marriott credit cards because you can transfer Marriott points to Alaska Airlines:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
Marriott points transfer at a 3:1 ratio to Alaska Airlines and you get 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer. So a 60,000 point transfer would earn you 25,000 Alaska miles.
The Alaska Airlines credit card is one one of the best ways to earn valuable Alaska Airlines miles. With a 40,000-mile bonus and a $100 statement credit after you meet minimum spending requirements, you’ll be well on your way to a vacation in Hawaii, Mexico or some place even further.
You also get valuable perks like a free checked bag for you and up to six companions on the same reservation, and you’ll earn 3x miles on Alaska Airlines purchases.
But the most valuable perk of all is the annual Alaska Airlines credit card companion fare, which can be used across the Alaska Airlines network and can include a stopover. A ticket from the east coast to Hawaii with a stopover on the West Coast can easily cost over $800. With the Alaska Airlines credit card companion fare, you can fly a second passenger for just $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22). That could mean a total savings of $700, which easily makes the $75 annual fee worth it.
Alaska Airlines operates lots of flights from the West Coast, so the Alaska Airlines credit card should be in the wallets of any West Coast travelers. However, with the value and versatility of Mileage Plan miles, travelers from everywhere can find great value in the card.
Updated on June 3, 2020
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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)