40% Bonus When You Buy Alaska Miles (Allows One-Way Partner Awards With Stopover)

Alaska Airlines is offering a 40% bonus when you purchase or gift miles.

That’s actually a pretty good deal compared to other airlines with similar bonuses, because the starting price on their points is lower.

Through April 3, there’s a tiered bonus in place.

At the top end you’re buying miles for 2.1 cents apiece.

This isn’t an uncommon offer (see for instance here) but it’s as good an offer as I see.

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 Points.com transactions, so if you’re going hog wild you’ll need to spread the purchases across multiple cards.
  • Since the transactions are processed by points.com, 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 25,000 miles I needed, if I didn’t have to have them immediately, get a Bank of America co-brand Visa.

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. One way awards allow an enroute stopover as well.

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.

Cathay Pacific first class inventory is tighter than it used to be. And Emirates awards have been tough to book starting with travel a month from now. But this is a very valuable and uniquely flexible program.

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: Frequent Flyer Bonuses)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. CR biz is still plentiful and at 50 to HKG and 62.5K to India the price is hard to beat. CO biz is pretty nice, while no F it’s totally fine for a 16 hr flight to the east coast. Fully flat seat with lots of room, decent food and booze, and the same duvet as F makes it a solid option.

  2. Gary: you mention emirates is “tough to book a month from now”, but other rumors indicate a total blocking (first/biz) going forward from April 1. What’s your take, and is there a back door to book further in advance?

  3. If you buy miles with the Alaska visa card, do you earn the 3x miles? I don’t think so because it says you’re buying from points.com, but does anybody have experience with this?

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