Alaska Airlines is offering up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles through October 14.

This isn’t all that uncommon an offer. Sometimes it’s 30%, sometimes 35%, and sometimes 40% — as often as not Alaska offers some sort of bonus on purchased miles. But this is as good as I’ve seen it.

A purchase of 40,000 points earns 56,000 miles at a total cost of $1182.50 or ~ 2.1 cents per mile.

Key things to know:

  • You can buy up to 40,000 miles per transaction. But you can make as many transactions as you like — there’s no limit to the number of miles that Alaska will sell you, or to the number of bonus miles you can earn with this promotion. But you can only use the same credit card up to 4 times per 30 day period for any transactions, so if you’re going hog wild you’ll need to spread the purchases across multiple cards.
  • Since the transactions are processed by, not the airline, these purchases aren’t treated as airfare by credit card companies and as a result don’t earn airfare bonuses.
  • You can buy miles for just over 2 cents apiece (so marginally cheaper) in conjunction with buying tickets on Alaska’s website. However there are reports of Alaska cracking down on buying tickets in order to buy miles and then cancelling those tickets. So this offer seems like a much better deal, since it’s about the same price.

I’m not going to be a buyer at this price. And certainly for the first 30,000 miles I needed, if I didn’t have to have them immediately, I’d just buy those for $75.

But it’s great you can buy enough miles for an award from scratch, although Alaska doesn’t hold award tickets and let you buy the miles later. At a minimum you’d have to either find availability, buy miles, and go back to ticket… or work with a phone agent to set up a reservation while you try their patience and complete the mileage purchases online.

I really like Alaska Airlines miles because they’ve begun offering one-way awards on nearly all of their partners and brought most booking functionality onto their website.

Alaska partners with many of the airlines both in oneworld (like American, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, LAN) and Skyteam (like Delta, Air France, Korean) and also non-alliance airlines like Emirates. While you cannot book first class awards on either Air France or Korean (business is the highest cabin offered) you can book first class even on the A380 on Emirates — though award charts are region-specific and travel isn’t permitted to and from all regions of the world.

There are even some awards — like Cathay Pacific first class to and from Asia or Asia enroute to Africa for 70,000 miles each way and Emirates first class as well, on their Airbus A380 (with the showers!) — where it might be worth buying the points from scratch.

But I’m not in favor of hoarding miles at this price, I figure at something closer to a penny I’ll always get my money back out of the points no matter what happens in the future but at two cents I’d prefer cash — so I’d only do this for an immediate need, which I don’t have at the moment.

(HT: David G.)

  1. Heidi said,

    The 30K offer appears to be over. What’s the best current offer for Alaska?

  2. Michael said,

    How do you play it when you have an uneven amount of miles and an offer like this occurs? I have 55K Alaska so I’m tempted to buy 45000 more $920 and have 100K at my fingertips if a trip presents itself. Of course, they could devalue, so advice is requested.

  3. Gary Leff said,

    @Michael – consider booking a one-way with Alaska, requires fewer points. in general i don’t like to buy miles speculatively and this won’t be the last time this comes around

  4. mogon said,

    I find this especially interesting in that they also just announced a nice reduction on the miles needed for many award flights through 10/31
    The combination of the two could lead to some relative bargains if one has a particular AS-route in mind.

  5. mike said,

    Gary how is Emirates 1st class availability these days for one seat USA to SE Asia? Are there any USA cities tend to have more availability than others?

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