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Changes to the MBNA Alaska

 

A longstanding favourite among Canadian points collectors, the MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard has offered a sweet deal of 25,000 points for a $15 net first-year annual fee for as long as most of us have been in the game. That’s why it was a bit of a surprise to learn of some changes being made to this card and the way in which it’s being offered to consumers.

In a nutshell, the most significant change is that whereas previously you’d be offered either the World Elite or the Platinum Plus version of this product based on your income, now they’ve been divided into separate products with distinct signup bonuses. There’s also slight modifications to the annual fee and a modest improvement in card benefits. We’ll break it down.

World Elite vs. Platinum Plus

Generally speaking, MasterCard slaps the “World Elite” label on its high-end card products, which are intended for those who have an annual personal income of greater than $80,000 or a household income of greater than $150,000. The “Platinum Plus” moniker is used for mid-range cards with lower income eligibility requirements.

MBNA-Alaska-World-Elite
MBNA-Alaska-Platinum-Plus

In the past, there was a single application process for the MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard. If your income was greater than $80,000, you’d be automatically sent the World Elite version of the card (assuming you’re approved, of course); otherwise, you’d receive the Platinum Plus version.

Either way, you’d get the 25,000 bonus miles, and there were no real differences between the two versions of the card other than some insurance benefits and their physical appearance.

Now, you see the following message instead when you go to the MBNA Alaska application page.

You’re basically given the option to apply for either version of the card depending on your income. I’m not sure if MBNA will still automatically consider you for the Platinum Plus version if you happen to apply for the World Elite despite not meeting the income requirements, though I’m inclined to believe they will. 

Changes to Fees, Bonuses, and Benefits

To further differentiate the two products, the World Elite and the Platinum Plus now have different annual fees and signup bonuses. Previously, both cards had offered 25,000 bonus miles for a $75 annual fee, although a $60 cashback offer gave you an effective first-year annual fee of $15 (and you could always cancel before the first year was up).

Now, the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite MasterCard offers 30,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 in the first three months, with an annual fee of $99. You can still get a $60 rebate through Great Canadian Rebates, making your net cost $39 for the first year.

Meanwhile, the MBNA Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus MasterCard offers 20,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 in the first three months, with an annual fee of $75. There’s a $60 rebate on this one as well, so your net cost for the first year is $15.

You could frame these changes as a devaluation, since, on average, the signup bonus across the two versions of the card is now subject to a mildly higher annual fee. However, I don’t think anyone could argue that getting either 30,000 or 20,000 Alaska miles for a respective outlay of $39 or $15 is still anything but a fantastic deal.

Moreover, as a counterweight to this small negative change, MBNA and Alaska Airlines have also introduced a free checked bag benefit when travelling on Alaska Airlines for up to six passengers on the same reservation, available on the World Elite card only. The free checked bag benefit will be much more useful to those based in Western Canada, since Alaska Airlines only flies to Vancouver, Victoria, and Calgary, but it’s a potential money saver nonetheless.

Nothing else is changing – the US$121 companion voucher, points earning rate, and insurance benefits for both versions of the card will remain in place.

Can You Get Both?

One of the interesting questions that arise from this situation is whether you can hold both the World Elite and Platinum Plus versions of the card at the same time, because that could allow you to really rack up the points a lot faster and get yourself much closer to some sweet redemptions through Alaska Mileage Plan.

A few years ago, people used to abuse opening three or four MBNA Alaska credit cards at the same time, so they tightened things up and introduced a rule whereby you could only hold one account per card product at any given time (though you could always cancel and reapply).

Now that the World Elite and Platinum Plus have been segmented out, there’s a good chance that they could be considered distinct card products, in which case it would just be a matter of making a new application for the card you don’t currently hold.

Remember that MBNA allows you to split out your existing credit limits in order to get a new credit card application approved (i.e., if you have $10,000 outstanding credit with MBNA and they don’t want to approve you for more, you can simply ask for $5,000 to be “split” into a new account in order to get an application approved). 

In terms of the GCR rebate, anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that the “Maximum one per individual” footnote is loosely enforced. It seems that if your application gets automatically approved or it goes to pending and you call in to get it approved, then the cashback will post smoothly even if it’s not your first $60 cut. But if there’s any issues along the way and you have to manually ask GCR for the credit, then they’ll take notice of any previous cashbacks on the MBNA Alaska in your account and deny you this one. 

Of course, the tricky thing about applying for both versions of the card is that the income requirements are mutually exclusive – you’re supposed to be applying for the World Elite if you meet the income threshold of $80,000 personal / $150,000 household, and you’re supposed to be applying for the Platinum Plus otherwise. Perhaps it’s best for those of you who’ve recently experienced an income change to take the plunge…

Apply Now

If you already have a GCR account, now’s the time to fire it up and go for those bonus points. If not, keep in mind that you can support this blog by applying through one of our Great Canadian Rebates referral links. GCR offers the highest rebates available on the MBNA Alaska cards, so you’re always getting the best deal.

You can apply for the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite MasterCard via the following link:

princeoftravel.com/apply/MBNAAlaska

 

You can apply for the MBNA Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus MasterCard via the following link:

princeoftravel.com/apply/MBNAAlaskaPP
 

Conclusion

The MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard has been one of the easiest ways to rack up miles within the fantastic Mileage Plan program, and I’m glad that the recent round of changes hasn’t been too bad. While the miles-to-fee ratio has decreased slightly on average, both the World Elite and the Platinum Plus still offer a killer deal considering the many ways to use Alaska miles for a tremendous value.

 
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22 Comments
  1. Tanner

    New to churning, how soon after you get the point bonus do you cancel the card?

    1. Ricky

      Between 3-6 months.

  2. Jimmy

    Hi Ricky,

    Just read about the changes here. Any idea how strict they are about verifying personal income or household income? The 30k from the World Elite seems to be so much more enticing than the 20k offered on the Platinum Plus.

    1. Ricky

      Hi Jimmy,

      In the past I’ve never been asked for income verification by MBNA.

  3. Bernard

    Hello Ricky;
    Happy travel on the Siberian express.
    How soon after cancelling an Alaska card can you apply again?
    Is there a waiting period that is reasonable?

    1. Ricky

      I think two to three months is a reasonable time frame.

  4. Mike

    If I applied through GCR just before these changes, will I get the deal prior to the change?

    1. Ricky

      Hey Mike, you’ll likely get the 25K bonus still. It doesn’t hurt to call MBNA and see if they’ll give you an extra 5K as a goodwill gesture (you can say something like “I was disappointed to see the offer increased just after I applied”).

  5. Brad

    As a data point – I have the World Elite card and just applied for the Platinum Plus. The application status went to "pending" so I called the credit department. Their system flagged this application since I already have an Alaskan card. The analyst said you can only have one card so he purged the new application. Part of my issue may be that I just got the World Elite card a few weeks ago (after a previous churn). So, part of the reason it may have been flagged is the time between applications was so short. But, your experience my vary.

  6. Derrick

    I recently canceled my platinum plus version. what do you think the chances are of applying for the world elite version and getting the bonus?

    1. Ricky

      Assuming you meet the income requirement, your chances of getting the bonus are good. MBNA has never had a once-per-lifetime rule of any sort on their signup bonuses.

  7. Alex

    Hi Ricky, thanks for this! Is it true that MNBA does not approve applications if one has a credit history of less than two years? What if it is around that time? Thanks.

    1. Ricky

      I’ve certainly heard a few data points of this, but never had firsthand experience. If your credit history is hovering around two years, it may be worth playing it safe and applying after you’ve crossed that mark.

  8. BG

    I called MBNA and was told that you cannot have both cards. I was all excited to be able to get 50k each year.

    1. Ricky

      It’s highly unlikely that MBNA will officially allow individuals to hold both as a policy. It’s more likely to be something that flies under the radar, as some data points on Reddit already seem to indicate.

  9. Ben

    I was on the phone with a rep yesterday and we couldn’t find the Alaska card through their own website, so thanks for providing the GCR link.

  10. Ben

    I was on the phone with a rep yesterday and we couldn’t find the Alaska card through their own website, so thanks for providing the GCR link.

    1. Ricky

      Yeah, it’s really strange. The only way to access the application links seems to be through the Alaska website or GCR (with the latter giving you the $60 rebate). You can’t find it on the MBNA website at all. Makes you wonder why they went through all the trouble to update this card in the first place.

  11. Maryse

    Good morning. I have tried last month and again Monday and I have been in no-man’s-land (no response, no decline, no approval, nothing) Is there something with the fact that I’m from Québec? I’ve been informed that perhaps through Hola plug-in I might be luckier. Your feeling about this please?

  12. Maryse

    Good morning. I have tried last month and again Monday and I have been in no-man’s-land (no response, no decline, no approval, nothing) Is there something with the fact that I’m from Québec? I’ve been informed that perhaps through Hola plug-in I might be luckier. Your feeling about this please?

    1. Ricky

      There’s definitely been difficulties in getting this card for Quebec residents. Are you saying your application is pending and you haven’t received a decision? What does MBNA customer service say?

      1. Maryse

        Hello Ricky. After 2 years of being approuved for all cards I applied for, I get frustrated not to even get a reference number to follow-up! As I do not have this ref.#, Guest services say they do not have records of my actions. If there is a Québécois amongst your followers, please reply 🙂 Tks.

Ricky Zhang

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