MBNA Alaska Credit Card Strategies Ricky June 10, 2019

MBNA Alaska Credit Card Strategies

MBNA happens to be one of the most lenient issuers among the major Canadian financial institutions that deal in travel rewards credit cards, and it’s also the sole issuer of an Alaska Airlines co-branded credit card in Canada – the MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard.

Sharpening your strategy with MBNA will therefore go a long way towards helping you rack up Alaska miles much faster, getting you closer to your next big trip in Cathay Pacific First Class, Japan Airlines First Class, or even Emirates First Class 😉…among several other excellent redemption options as well.

In this post, I’ll share some of the tips I’ve picked up over several years of applying for MBNA Alaskas, as well as relatively new data points that I’ve come across in recent months. 

Maximizing the MBNA Alaska: The Basics

Believe it or not, you used to be able to hold three or four MBNA Alaska credit cards at the same time. The signup bonus was 25,000 Alaska miles at the time, and there was no minimum spending requirement, so it was possible to rack up a spectacular balance of miles in a very short period.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone, with the issuer having implemented a one-Alaska-card-at-a-time policy a few years ago. Then, in the middle of last year, MBNA refreshed the card to bring us two different versions: 

  • The World Elite version, with a signup bonus of 30,000 Alaska miles upon spending $1,000 in the first three months, an annual fee of $99 (reduced to $39 by applying through Great Canadian Rebates), and a minimum income requirement of $80,000 (personal) or $150,000 (household)

  • The Platinum Plus version, with a signup bonus of 20,000 Alaska miles upon spending $1,000 in the first three months, an annual fee of $75 (reduced to $15 by applying through Great Canadian Rebates), and no minimum income requirement

First of all, this is a question that I keep getting over and over again, so I think it’s worth saying upfront: No, the two versions of the MBNA Alaska do not count as separate products, so you generally cannot hold onto both of them at the same time. 

They’re mutually exclusive by design: unless you happen to be Schrödinger’s credit card applicant, you can’t be above and below the World Elite income threshold at once, so it makes sense that you can only have one of the two versions of the card open at any time. 

Next, let’s talk about that $60 rebate that you get via Great Canadian Rebates (GCR) when applying for the card. The ability to lower the annual fee to a net $15–39 (depending on which version of the card you get) is a huge part of the MBNA Alaska’s appeal, but if you look at the terms and conditions of the GCR offer, you’ll see that each customer is only supposed to receive a maximum of one $60 rebate. 

That’s not exactly helpful if you’re planning to cancel and reapply for this card multiple times in order to supercharge your Alaska balance, is it? Thankfully, there are a few factors that soften this blow.

First of all, most of the time, the GCR rebate is processed automatically, so most people do in fact receive the $60 rebate on subsequent repeat applications.

But if the cash back doesn’t come through automatically and you must request it manually (this might happen if your application wasn’t instantly approved my MBNA and had to go through the credit department), GCR will cite the terms and conditions and deny you a second $60 rebate if you’ve already received one.

What’s the workaround here? Simply open a new GCR account every time you’re reapplying for the MBNA Alaska if you want to be absolutely certain of receiving the cash back.

Fly Cathay Pacific First Class for 70,000 Alaska miles

Fly Cathay Pacific First Class for 70,000 Alaska miles

Lastly, it appears that the MBNA Alaska credit card is not available to Quebec residents. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a workaround here.

You could look into maintaining a “residential” address in Ontario that’s actually a mail forwarding service (similar to what we do with US credit cards), but is it really worth complicating your credit profile with a second address just to get in on the Alaska program? I don’t know…

Anyway, that’s about all for the basics.

Maximizing the MBNA Alaska: Getting Declined + Moving Credit

I say that MBNA is “lenient” not because they’re particularly generous with approving your credit card applications. Sure, you might get instantly approved the first few times, but MBNA seems to pay quite a bit of attention to the particulars of your credit file, and may well deny you if you’ve had more than a handful of credit inquiries in the past six months or so.

(Remember that MBNA pulls your credit file from TransUnion, so any hits you have on the Equifax side won’t be visible to them.)

However, MBNA is pretty unique among Canadian credit card issuers in that when they decline your application, they’re not denying you the product itself, but rather they’re denying the additional credit that comes with the product.

If MBNA sees a higher-than-average number of credit inquiries on your file, they might interpret that as “credit-seeking” behaviour: a sign that you’re in desperate straits and asking everyone in town to lend you money. It’s therefore understandable that they’d feel uncomfortable extending you more credit.

But here’s the thing with MBNA: even if you originally get denied for a new card, you can still get approved by moving the credit limit from an existing MBNA card. That way, you aren’t being extended any additional credit beyond what you already have!

Here’s how this works. Say you apply for a new MBNA Alaska and get denied. Bummer… but it doesn’t have to be. 

Unlike other issuers who hide behind a denial letter with a list of vague reasons, MBNA actually has human credit analysts that you can speak to. Give them a call at +1 (888) 898 1620 and ask them about your application. If you’ve indeed been denied, simply say something along the lines of “I understand that MBNA doesn’t want to extend me any more credit. I’m happy to split off the credit limit from my existing card to get approved instead. Can we do that?”

Let’s say you had a MBNA Best Western Rewards MasterCard with a credit limit of $5,000 on it. The credit analyst will verify with you how much of this existing credit limit you’d like to split off, and you could do an equal split of $2,500 each, or you could bring over $1,000, or $4,000, or any figure you wish. 

ABBAXX_PLT_CC_VHD_MKT_E_261x165.png

(Thanks to doing these credit splits, I’ve had MBNA credit cards with limits as low as $500 in the past – of course, these cards were purely for points-earning purposes and I didn’t really spend much money on them, so it’s not like I needed the credit limit anyway.)

Once the agent processes your desired credit limit split, you can expect a brand-new approved credit card – welcome bonus and all – in the mail! 

Using this technique, you can get approved for MBNA credit cards pretty much every time, and there’s not many issuers out there that you can say this about. 

Fly Japan Airlines First Class for 70,000 Alaska miles

Fly Japan Airlines First Class for 70,000 Alaska miles

Maximizing the MBNA Alaska: Cancelling and Reapplying

As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, there’s no real scientific rule as to how long you should wait before cancelling and reapplying for a credit card. It’s all about how “aggressive” you want to be with your strategies, how carefully you want to preserve your long-term relationship with a certain issuer, as well as how many inquiries and new accounts your credit profile can handle.

The conventional wisdom is to wait six months before cancelling a credit card (since that allows the account to mature on your credit file and contribute to your credit health) and three months before reapplying for the card (since otherwise there’s the risk of a previously closed account being reopened). 

But you know what? If there’s one issuer with whom I’d say it’s okay to play things a little fast and loose, it would be MBNA. They just seem to care less than the other issuers. 

Fly Emirates First Class for 150,000 Alaska miles

Fly Emirates First Class for 150,000 Alaska miles

Here’s one example of what I mean: the aforementioned risk of your old account getting reopened if you reapply within three months seems to be mitigated by alternating between the World Elite and Platinum Plus versions of the MBNA Alaska.

Indeed, many data points support the idea that you can apply for the Platinum Plus very soon after closing your old World Elite account (or vice versa) and come through with the welcome bonus.

(As stated above, the income requirement prevents you from holding both products at the same time, but it’s not inconceivable to have an income that tends to yo-yo around the $80,000 mark every time you reapply.)

aa.png

Now, it should go without saying that you shouldn’t be too obvious about all of these strategies in your dealings with MBNA.

Think about it: the true purpose of the MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard is most likely to encourage some measure of brand loyalty in Canadian travellers who might occasionally fly with Alaska Airlines, by treating them to a nice welcome bonus and a handful of perks and benefits on Alaska-operated flights. The purpose probably isn’t to fund your lavish travels on Alaska’s partner airlines, which just so happen to be some of the most luxurious First Class airlines in the world. 

Keep this in mind, and position yourself accordingly, when chatting up those MBNA credit analysts over the phone. 😉

Conclusion

The MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard is one of the cornerstones of the grand strategy of Miles & Points in Canada, providing easy access to the lucrative Alaska Mileage Plan program and opening the door to some of the highest-value redemption opportunities around. There’s a particular game plan when it comes to working with MBNA that’s pretty distinct from other Canadian issuers, and I hope you’ll find some of these strategies helpful as you look to get more and more of those welcome bonuses under your belt.

Top Offers

MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard

Up to 30,000 Alaska miles
upon spending $1,000 in the first three months

  • World Elite: 30,000 miles; Platinum Plus: 20,000 miles
  • Free checked bags on Alaska Airlines flights
  • Annual US$99 companion fare
Signup bonus
Up to 30,000 Alaska miles
Annual fee
$99 (World Elite) or $75 (Platinum Plus); offset by $50 GCR credit
48 Comments
  1. Avatar
    David

    Ok, I am in Quebec and 2018 I got this card with the 30000 sign up bonus and at the time it said not available in Quebec but my application went through. Now in 2020 when I go through the application and put my Quebec address it tries to bring me to a different offer page. The only differences between the two pages are one has the 30000 points and one does not.

    That seems to be the code from the one that gives 30000 points through GCR brings you to a page with one of these odd numbers
    generateApplicationForm.htm?src=DABT51
    generateApplicationForm.htm?src=DABT53
    generateApplicationForm.htm?src=DABT55

    The page is tries to bring Quebec users to once you enter your address is one of these with even numbers.
    generateApplicationForm.htm?src=DABT52
    generateApplicationForm.htm?src=DABT54
    generateApplicationForm.htm?src=DABT56

    Back when I signed up the code I used while in Quebec was DABJ05 and I did get my 30000 points. If someone wants to play around with the codes and see if they could find one that works in Quebec let us know. I think they fixed there system now to automatically offer to change to a page with an even number which not offering any points. If you put in 01 or 02 you can also see the offer differences but with the non WE card. I guess I won’t be getting the Alaska card again. Glad I managed to get it once though.

  2. Avatar
    VJ

    Just moved to Canada from US and still on initial stages in my credit history here in canada. Whats the minimum credit score required to apply for this card.

  3. Avatar
    Jeff

    What happens to the points from the Alaska card after canceling? I’ve had mine for about 6 months now and I’m looking to cancel or downgrade to a no-fee card and then reapply in a few months – will I lose these points?

    1. Avatar
      Susan

      Jeff, the points stay in your alaska mileage account , not the credit card itself.

  4. Avatar
    John Bucher

    We just got a new one and it took 9 business days from application to receiving by mail

  5. Avatar
    carder

    Hi Rick,

    How long should a new applicant Wait for the arrival of this card? I applied at last Monday and haven’t yet received any message from MBNA.

    Thank you

  6. Avatar
    Louis Morin

    Hi rick
    I am from Quebec and I have had the Alaska Platinum card for 6 months now. I know we are no longer eligible. I had found a trick to get my last Platinum Plus. Is it possible to make a switch product for me from Quebec? How can I change my Platinum card to a free card? Me who lives in Quebec? I’m looking for a way to continue to have these cards. I have the Best Western for Quebec, just as unimportant information.
    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      It actually seems that Quebec residents have still been getting the bonus on the MBNA Alaska even though the terms say you aren’t eligible. You can definitely try doing the product switch and see what happens.

    2. Avatar
      Andrew Wong

      Hey Louis, I am from Quebec too, would it be possible if you could let me know this trick? It would be greatly appreciated!

  7. Avatar
    EdW

    Hi Ricky, I just downgraded by Alaska WE to a no-fee card today. How long should I wait before I apply for a new Alaska WE? 3 months or can I do it now and just use credit split if I’m denied?

  8. Avatar
    Tom Wong

    Hi Ricky, I have had the Alaska WE for over a year. Would I get the new bonus if I call MBNA to product switch to the Platinum Plus card? Also should I use my annual Alaska airline companion voucher credit first before switching? Lastly when is the next conference coming to Vancouver? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Nope, the strategy would be to downgrade your card to a no-fee card, then apply for another Alaska card and use the existing card to split credit if you happen to be denied.

      If you have an upcoming use in mind for the Alaska voucher, then you can use it, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it otherwise.

      I’ll see what I can do to put together a YVR get-together sometime this year!

  9. Avatar
    Liyan Luo

    1st application for Alaska WE, pending status. Should I call MBNA or wait for their decision? Thank you.

  10. Avatar
    Andrew

    Just got my Alaska WE card (2nd time holder, applied via GCR), it’s an instant approval on MBNA but GCR showed $0 rebate… maybe due to me applying from QC.

  11. Avatar
    H.

    Hi, MBNA declined my Alaska Platinum Plus application. If I call in to do a credit split, how can I get the rebate from GCR? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      If it doesn’t come through automatically, you can file a manual claim with GCR for the missing bonus.

      1. Avatar
        H.

        Great. thanks for the reply! One more question. I had the World Elite credit card last time and got the $60 rebate from GCR. This one is Platinum Plus so is it considered a different application so I can still get the rebate without creating a new account when I file it manually?

  12. Avatar
    Paul

    Is MBNA clamping down?
    I have high credit score and waited more than 6 months to apply for the Alaska World Elite Master Card.
    I filled in the application and hit submit and waited more than 2 minutes and this message showed up on the screen:
    1) We’re sending an email to confirm that we’ve received your application in 10-15 days.
    2) Our credit specialists will review your application to determine your eligibility, we’ll notify you about our credit decision by mail within 15 days of submitting your application.
    3) If you are approved, your new MBNA credit card will be mail out to you within 30 days of approval

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      That’s a pretty standard message when the credit card isn’t instantly approved, I believe.

  13. Avatar
    Dor

    I currently have a Platinum Plus that I have for three months now and a No Fee MBNA Rewards. Can I cancel my PP and apply for the World Elite right away? Or do I need to move my existing PP credit limit to the No Fee card, cancel PP and apply for the WE right away?

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Doesn’t hurt to move the credit over to the No Fee card before cancelling the PP, I’d say.

  14. Avatar
    Andy

    I currently have 2 MBNA World Elite card accounts. I’m considering cancelling one (losing the companion fare), waiting 3 months and applying for a Platinum Plus to get welcome miles. Your post states that MBNA will not issue me a second card account when I reapply, although I have two accounts right now. What are your thoughts? Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      I think you’re pretty lucky, and that if you were to cancel one of the two accounts you have, then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to open a second account again.

  15. Avatar
    Fred

    What about this offer? Is it really new?
    The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® card
    NEW – 40,000 bonus mile offer

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      That’s a US offer, issued by Bank of America. If you’ve gotten started with US credit cards and have a healthy credit history, go for it!

  16. Avatar
    Aleks

    When re-applying for the MBNA cards, should you create a new account (use new email) every time with MBNA?

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Nope, you’re good to reapply with the existing Alaska account. It wouldn’t be very useful if you had several Alaska accounts each with 30k miles in them, anyway.

      1. Avatar
        Aleks

        I meant for MBNA login information, should we use a new email each time?

        1. Avatar
          Ricky

          Nope, there’s no need to. But sometimes the MBNA website is glitchy, I’ve found, and won’t let you register another card under the same email. So in that situation you might be forced to use a new email.

          1. Avatar
            Aleks

            Thanks Ricky, much appreciated.

  17. Avatar
    Gregor

    I got Platinum card with 8k limit like a month ago through GCR . In other post you said that credit inquiry is valid for 45 days. So should I apply for BestWestern card now, when my inquire is still fresh in GCR? Then wait 3 months and switch those products to no fee cards, then switch back after another 3 months? I guessing tis way one gets the bonus but has to pay yearly fee for the cards? And how do you keep points alive when switching/canceling?
    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe MBNA does the "credit hit is valid for 45 days" thing – they usually do a hard check for every application.

      If your points are going to a third-party loyalty program (like Alaska or Best Western) then they’ll be alive even if you cancel or product-switch away. More information here: princeoftravel.com/knowledge/what-happens-to-your-points-when-you-cancel-a-credit-card

      1. Avatar
        Andrew

        I think MBNA changed their policy some time ago (maybe a year ago now?) from reusing credit checks to doing a new check every time.

        1. Avatar
          Gregor

          Thanks for clarification Gents!

  18. Avatar
    susan

    Hi Ricky, So are you suggesting to have a MBNA product on hand all the time, even a no fee card, in case you have to transfer credit to approve another product ? I have (me and spouse each) Alaska Card to cancel, should I do the Best Western Before, just in case need backup ?

    Also, my last Credit card received was in April (TD aeroplan) , am I to soon to apply for 2 new other cards . I carry a Amex Gold, SPG Bus, Avion, Alaska & Td at this moment.

    Thanks !!! Susan

    1. Avatar
      Andrew

      Hi Susan,

      Having some MBNA credit available is always a good choice, as long as it doesn’t put you in a situation where you have excessive credit available to you. You could apply to the Best Western card and move all your credit from your Alaska card to your Best Western card as part of the process to close it.

      To answer your second questions, there’s a lot more factors involved when considering if you should apply for a card. It really depends what bureau the issuer would check and which cards you’re looking to apply for. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing publicly or it’s complex, Ricky’s consulting service can probably help guide your credit card strategy to ensure you get the best points for your inquiries. 🙂

  19. Avatar
    Dan

    Hi Ricky, Thanks for the article.

    Have a small question regarding the 3 month aggressive hold with regards to credit recovery… I’m assuming when you product switch to a no fee card and hold this basically has the same effect as holding a card for 6 months to allow your credit score to recover.

    However say I PS’d the WE to a no fee rewards card and got the Plat card. I’m guessing in this case it’d be best to hold onto the plat card for the full 6 months to allow credit score to recover? I’m assuming that canceling after 3 months hold and merging the CL to the no fee card from earlier is not gonna allow our credit score to recover as well since we’re still technically closing the account (unless I’m misunderstanding something).

    So unless we’re looking to hold multiple MBNA cards (or cancel the earlier no fee card and PS the plat to a new no fee card), it’s better to hold it for longer?

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      Yeah, best to hold each card for at least six months, while using the product switch technique to shorten the cycle.

      If the Platinum Plus is your second card, you could hold it for three months, then product-switch that to a second no-fee card while you go for Round #3 with the World Elite.

  20. Avatar
    Rod

    I did this to my MBNA Rewards Elite by switching to a no-fee MBNA Rewards card. But what card should I product switch my Alaska Platinum Plus to?

    1. Avatar
      Andrew

      Hi Rod,
      One option is to transfer your credit limit from your Alaska Platinum Plus to your no-fee MBNA Rewards card (assuming you still have it) when closing it. That’ll save you from managing another credit card while keeping a healthy limit for future applications.

  21. Avatar
    CanadaPointsGuy

    Hey Ricky
    I had a client from Qc that wanted this card. I did an online chat with MBNA about 4 weeks ago and the rep put me on hold to check and care back to say Qc residents are eligible.

  22. Avatar
    Miles

    I tried to split credit last year when I was denied for credit seeking and it was an emphatic no from 2 reps! YMMV now?

  23. Avatar
    Geo@YQB

    Dear Ricky, whats with the Quebec clause? I’m a Quebec resident, and i’ve held the card many, many times. Closed my latest card about 5 months ago. Looking to re-apply next month. Any info would be appreciated.

  24. Avatar
    Alex

    Hi Ricky. I’m from Montreal and I held the Alaska card until late last year. Is the non availability to Qc residents something new?

    1. Avatar
      Ricky

      I think the first reports of the card being closed to QC residents came in the middle of last year, around the same time that the changes were made to the card.

      1. Avatar
        sky1213

        Just tried to apply.
        Looks like it is available in QC just with a WB of 0
        when you go through GCR, it assumes you are not from Quebec
        Once you put in Quebec in your address, it automatically loads a new page with 0 WB.

        1. Avatar
          Ricky

          According to a few data points, it may be worth applying anyway and seeing if the bonus comes through.

    2. Avatar
      Guy

      I’m from Montreal and had the Alaska twice in the past (through GCR) but last week at my third request the system replies ‘not available to QC resident’ as soon as QC province is entered…

Ricky

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