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Buy Alaska Miles with a 60% Bonus

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Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a popular program in Canada for its co-branded MBNA credit cards, great deals on redemptions, and frequent mileage sales.

With their current sale, you can earn up to 60% bonus miles on your purchase depending on which offer you were targeted for. 

This sale is on until October 30, 2021, so be sure to capitalize before then if you’re interested.

Buy Alaska Miles with a 60% Bonus

Normally, Alaska Airlines sells miles for 2.75 (USD) cents per mile, plus a 7.5% tax recovery fee, for a total of 2.96 (USD) cents per mile. Luckily, Alaska frequently offers discounts on purchasing miles.

Alaska is known for running targeted “mystery bonuses.” The offer visible on my account is for up to 60% bonus on purchased miles, structured like so:

  • 60% bonus when you buy 40,000–100,000 miles
  • 50% bonus when you buy 20,000–39,000 miles
  • 40% bonus when you buy 3,000–19,000 miles

Some members may receive a maximum bonus of only 50%. Log in with your Mileage Plan account to see the exact breakdown of your bonus.

With a 60% bonus, you could buy 160,000 Alaska miles for $2,956 including tax, at a cost of 1.85 US cents per mile. Meanwhile, with a smaller bonus of 50%, the same cash outlay would get you a rate of 1.97 US cents per mile.

At our current valuation of 1.8 US cents per mile, these prices are all quite competitive if you have a specific use in mind.

Historically, Alaska tends to offer bonuses in the 35% to 60% range, although we’ve seen rare offers as high as 70%. If you’re targeted for the higher rate and looking to buy Alaska miles, this is certainly one of the best times to do so, and even a lower rate warrants some consideration as well.

How many miles can you buy?

Unless you have elite status with Alaska, each Mileage Plan member is limited to receiving 150,000 miles per calendar year from mileage purchases, whether buying for yourself or being gifted from someone else.

This limit only applies to base miles, although there’s a limit of 100,000 base miles per transaction. If you split your purchase up into multiple transactions, you could buy up to 240,000 miles including the 60% bonus, assuming you haven’t already bought or been gifted Alaska miles this year.

Which credit card should you use to buy Alaska miles?

Mileage Plan sells miles through Points.com. As you aren’t buying directly from Alaska Airlines, you won’t earn any bonus points for using an Alaska Airlines credit card.

The purchase won’t code as travel for the category accelerator either. Instead, you could consider any card with a high base earn rate, or one where you’re working towards meeting the minimum spend requirement.

The purchase will be charged in USD. To avoid extra costs, you should use a US credit card.

If you use a card with a Canadian billing address, you’ll be charged GST/HST on top of the Tax Recovery Fee, so even if you have a Canadian card with no foreign transaction fees, I’d recommend using it only as a last resort.

Who Should Buy Alaska Miles?

Buying miles can be a good way to top up your account if you’re keen to make a redemption soon.

Booking an Expensive Aspirational Flight

I should note that there’s some uncertainty around the future value of Alaska Mileage Plan. Since Alaska has joined Oneworld on March 31, 2021, we’re still awaiting the award charts for redemptions on their new partners’ routes (with the exception of Qatar Airways).

However, Alaska has made a commitment that any changes to existing award charts will be announced with at least 90 days’ notice.

With that in mind, Alaska’s award chart continues to offer some spectacular rates on exquisite first-class cabins.

A few examples from Canada or the US include Cathay Pacific First Class for 70,000 miles one-way with a stopover in Hong Kong, or JAL First Class for 70,000 miles one-way with a stopover in Tokyo.

Compared to the exorbitant cash prices, award tickets can be had for absolutely wild value. 70,000 Alaska miles at 1.8 (USD) cents per mile is worth US$1,260. Compare this to a cash price of US$11,563 for Cathay First Class, and you’re looking at the dictionary definition of outsized rewards!

Viewed another way, this redemption would be worth 16.5 (USD) cents per mile, over 15 times the baseline value of a mile – and that’s before considering the option of adding a stopover for no additional cost.

At these rates, it would make sense to buy miles if you have a specific high-value redemption planned. Buying at around 2 cents per mile sounds steep, but not when you’re confident that the value will outstrip the cost many times over.

Even if you’re starting from scratch and need to buy all of the miles required for this ticket, with a 60% promotion the cost of the miles would be US$1,300 including fees – a very modest premium on top of their baseline value, and a no-brainer compared to a revenue fare.

Of course, this only makes sense if you can find award space. JAL First Class awards are notoriously popular, and thankfully available on the Alaska search engine once again. Cathay Pacific First Class awards do appear to be available between North America and Asia, but need to be booked over the phone.

I’d recommend ensuring that you’ve lined up your seats before pulling the trigger on a points purchase.

Quick Top-Up for an Upcoming Redemption

If you’ve identified a good opportunity to redeem your Alaska miles at a value you like, but your account is just shy of the amount you need, you may find it palatable to pay above baseline value to make up the difference.

As long as you’re redeeming above the 1.85 (USD) cents per mile cost of buying with this promotion, you’ll come out ahead.

Even if you redeem for less, it may still be worth it. After all, your miles are useless if you don’t have enough to make the bookings you desire. If the bulk of your miles were acquired at a very low cost, you can still get good value on the average cost of your miles, even with a slight premium for the instant gratification of a modest mileage purchase.

However, generally speaking, if I’m a little short in one points program for a low-end redemption, I’d first look to make the booking with other programs that may offer a better deal, or even cash. In less urgent cases, I’m happy to keep collecting until I have enough to redeem at a value I like better.

Cathay Pacific First Class

Other Ways to Earn Alaska Miles

Before rushing to buy miles at a promotional rate, I’d first look to other sources at lower costs, if you don’t need the miles immediately to make a booking.

Canadian Credit Cards by MBNA

Primarily, Alaska Miles can be earned from the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard, with a welcome bonus of 30,000 miles for spending $1,000 in the first three months.

The card’s lower-income variant, the MBNA Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard, offers 20,000 miles with the same spending requirement, and you can’t hold both cards at once.

For an annual fee of $99, the World Elite card represents buying 31,000 Alaska miles at 0.32 (CAD) cents per mile, or about 0.25 US cents per mile. Certainly this is cheaper than buying miles outright, although a much slower path to accumulating a big balance.

Also, you can sometimes find offers from MBNA with statement credits of $100–200, more than enough to offset the annual fee.

MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercards

US Credit Cards by Bank of America

If you have a social security number, you could also apply for Bank of America’s co-branded cards. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature and Alaska Airlines Visa Business both offer 40,000 miles upon spending US$2,000 in the first three months.

Both cards have frequent credits equivalent to a first-year fee rebate and occasional elevated points offers. Otherwise, at an annual fee of $75, the cost of acquiring points is 0.18 US cents per mile.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to Alaska Mileage Plan at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000 mile bonus when transferred in chunks of 60,000 Bonvoy points.

At our present valuation of 0.7 US cents per point, 60,000 Bonvoy points are worth US$420. When transferred to Alaska Mileage Plan, this is equivalent to buying 25,000 miles at 1.68 US cents per mile.

This is still lower than the baseline Alaska redemption value of 1.8 US cents per mile, and cheaper than the promotional cost to buy miles outright. Depending on your Bonvoy balance and hotel redemption goals, you’ll have to weigh whether this is a better choice than paying cash for Alaska miles.

Mileage Plan Shopping

You may also turn to the Mileage Plan Shopping portal for bonuses on online purchases at many popular worldwide retailers ranging from technology to sportswear companies. High bonuses can often be found around big shopping days like Black Friday or Boxing Day.

In my experience, miles usually arrive within two weeks, although many stores have restrictions for purchases outside of the US.

Previous Promotions

As you weigh whether this promotion is a good opportunity for you to meet your travel goals, here’s a snapshot of Alaska Mileage Plan’s previous offers on mileage sales, covering all promotions during the past year and any historical all-time-high offers:

Bonus

Start Date

End Date

Up to 60% more purchased miles

October 4, 2021

October 30, 2021

Up to 60% more purchased miles

September 13, 2021

September 16, 2021

Up to 60% more purchased miles

July 19, 2021

August 23, 2021

Up to 50% more purchased miles

June 14, 2021

June 25, 2021

Up to 60% more purchased miles

April 12, 2021

May 22, 2021

Up to 60% more purchased miles

January 20, 2021

February 14, 2021

Up to 50% more purchased miles

November 13, 2020

December 23, 2020

Up to 60% more purchased miles

October 5, 2020

October 31, 2020

Up to 70% more purchased miles
all-time high

July 23, 2020

August 26, 2020

Conclusion

Alaska Mileage Plan’s 60% bonus promotion on miles purchases is a great opportunity to push your balance over the hump for a dream trip. Make sure to take advantage in the coming days before October 30, 2021 to maximize this offer.

Thankfully, even after joining Oneworld in March 2021, Alaska has confirmed that their award chart will continue to offer their current unique sweet spots for now, and that they will provide at least 90 days’ notice of any changes to their redemption charts.

If there’s any announcement in the coming months about any impending changes to Alaska’s flight rewards, you’d still have time to redeem the points you bought under this promotion and squeeze in one last sweet spot.

That said, if you don’t have a specific redemption in mind, you may prefer to go the slow route by focusing on credit card bonuses and transfers, and looking forward to the next points sale in case a purchase makes sense in the future.

This is a recurring article, regularly updated with the latest promotion. Some comments may refer to past promotions that are no longer available.

8 Comments
  1. Andrea

    Just bought 40K Alaska Miles to top up my Alaska Miles account, for my upcoming Cathay Pacific to HKG later this year, and upcoming DOH to HKG trip early next year; thanks for the update !!

  2. Andrew

    Hi Ricky, for Alaska Miles, since Alaska Air is now OneWorld, can I use Alaska Miles to redeem either CathayPacific or Qatar ? If so, how easy or how difficult it is, and which months would be more “wide open”..?
    p.s. Couple weeks ago I got the Amex Platinum via your link, received the Platinum card within a week, and had purchased the Aeeroplan points with 100%bonus, that not only help meet the minimum spend requirements to get the 60K bonus, but also help to rack up Aeroplan points for the upcoming Xmas Family Union trip to Asia… If Alaska miles could be redeemable for either Cathay or Qatar, I would add a couple of segments to my trip….

    1. Josh YVR

      Hi Andrew, sorry for the late reply. Qatar routes will be bookable with Alaska miles starting in August most likely. Cathay routes were already bookable, as they were an Alaska partner prior to Alaska joining Oneworld. Hope that helps!

  3. Chris

    Word to the wise if your situation changes like mine as you are accumulating miles – Alaska requires a full ticket for infants on award flights. No lap infant even if under 2 years of age. I had missed where this had changed a few years ago 🙁

    Given the recent posts on travelling with families, I thought it was something I’d add.

  4. Mohammad

    It’s asking for a tax recovery fee of USD 206.25 in addition to the USD 384.31 for GST / HST. Where did this come from?

    1. Josh YVR

      Tax recovery fee is normal and accounted for in our valuations. You can avoid Canadian sales tax by using a card with a US billing address.

  5. julie stark

    Just reading the fine print., its 27.50 per 1000 miles when purchased.. With this added is the value still there? (your better @ math than I lol)

    1. Josh YVR

      That’s the base rate without a promotion. Depending on your targeted offer, you’d pay $27.50 (+tax) for 1400 miles, or $27.50 for 1600 miles. Even the base rate is alright if you target redemptions above 2.75(+tax) cents per point.

Josh Greenberg

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