Alaska Airlines Increases Credit Card Signup Bonus and Thinks It’s a Really Big Deal

Bank of America has increased its public offer on the Alaska Airlines Visa to 30,000 miles after $1000 spend within 90 days.

This isn’t the first time they’ve offered a 30,000 mile bonus. They even once had a 50,000 mile signup bonus and they’ve done 40,000 miles (including for the business card). Even 35,000 miles was better.

It’s interesting to me that the ‘above the fold’ pitch for the card is that you can redeem on partners, I don’t think any other airline promotes that as aggressively. (It’s “a small, but important portion of frequent flier award redemption”.)

Alaska miles are great, I value them more than other mileage currencies (although I do trust them less after the no notice devaluation of Emirates awards). And this is better than buying points at a discount (although the opportunity to do so increases the value of the signup bonus, you aren’t just getting 30,000 miles that you then strand in an account).

This co-brand crédit card plays center stage in how Alaska plans to make their Virgin America acquisition work out. The ability to sell the card to Virgin America’s customers, gain signups in California and the Bay Area in particular, is one of the things they explained will turn the deal positive. And they highlighted the plan for a bigger signup bonus as part of that — Alaska leadership has portrayed the 5000 extra miles as a big deal compared to the earlier public offer, which struck me odd.

Yet the card has pretty limited benefits. They’ve added a free checked bag. It doesn’t even come with priority boarding. The best thing about it was how often you used to be able to get the bonus but they’ve cracked down on that somewhat.

Ironically the card used to be better than it is today. The truly unique benefit they offer is a $99 companion certificate that doesn’t have any capacity controls and even earns miles. If there’s a coach seat available on a flight, the companion can have it for $99 plus tax when you pay for one coach ticket and it’s valid anywhere Alaska flies. Up through summer 2012, though, the companion ticket used to be valid for paid first class and it used to be $50 plus tax (the companion ticket for the business card was $99).

I actually think that 25,000 miles without a spending requirement plus a $100 statement credit if you spend $1000 within 90 days (which more than covers the card’s $75 annual fee) is a better offer than the 30,000 point one… but it’s worth underscoring the ‘new public offer’ and especially because it’s so integral to driving the success of their co-brand even though the difference seems to incremental.

(HT: Doctor of Credit)

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, 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. This may move some people to acquire this card, but not most. 30,000 miles really isn’t enough of a carrot. If Alaskan is smart, they will incrementally increase the bonus sign up as the merger comes closer.

  2. I have tons of AA, UA, AMEX and Chase UR points. I just don’t need another currency unless it is a stellar offer, which this is not.

  3. The evil Bank of America is our bank. Today when I signed on to my account, I noticed that both my BoA Credit cards were missing – 1 was Alaskan. Then I clicked on ‘my offers’ and there was the 30k bonus offer, so I signed up and got approved.

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