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Alaska Mileage Plan 40% buy miles bonus

Buy Alaska miles at 2.11 US cents each until 23rd February 2019, for good value First and Business Class award flights with several top airlines

CX 77W J 2 (Matt@TWN)

Alaska Airlines never waits long between its Mileage Plan ‘buy miles’ promotions, with the last one ending just over a month ago. Back then it was the highest bonus they ever offer, with many members targeted for 50% additional miles.

This time round it’s back to the more usual 40% bonus, meaning you can top up your account with miles at 2.11 US cents each. Alaska miles are an ideal frequent flyer currency to hold for good value Business Class and First Class redemptions in Asia-Pacific and beyond with several top airlines.

The current offer

AStrans

As usual you will have to log on to your Mileage Plan account to check how the bonus is structured. That’s because Alaska tends to tailor these promotions slightly depending on your customer profile.

For example in the last bonus I was targeted at the 50% rate, while Eddie was offered 40% with a slightly different structure based on the quantity of miles purchased.

This time for me the deal is offered as follows:

  • 1,000 – 19,000 miles – no bonus (2.96 US ¢ / mile)
  • 20,000 – 60,000 miles – 40% bonus (2.11 US ¢ / mile)

Eddie, who always seems to get a different offer, has the following options:

  • 1,000 – 4,000 miles – no bonus (2.96 US ¢ / mile)
  • 5,000 – 19,000 miles – 20% bonus (2.46 US ¢ / mile)
  • 20,000 – 29,000 miles – 30% bonus (2.27 US ¢ / mile)
  • 30,000 – 60,000 miles – 40% bonus (2.11 US ¢ / mile)

Deadline: 23rd February

The offer closes at 11.59m PST on Friday 22nd February 2019, which is 3.59pm on Saturday 23rd February 2019 Singapore time.

Anyone can buy with a bonus

Last year Alaska Airlines removed their limitation that only accounts 10 days or older were able to buy miles. That means you can sign up for an Alaska Mileage Plan account at any time and see what miles purchase bonus you are entitled to right away.

The exact bonus structure offered won’t be known until you register, but it’s worth a try so sign up now if you don’t yet have an account. Even if they don’t give you a very good bonus this time, you’ll be all set for the next one.

It’s unlimited (nearly) It’s now limited

If you proceed to make an Alaska miles purchase during this offer, the site will clearly show you the bonus miles applicable to each level.

You might automatically assume the highest level shown in the drop-down menu is the limit – it’s not.

You can buy an effectively unlimited volume of miles by repeating the purchases. It’s only possible to make up to four miles purchases per card however, so you are technically limited by the number of credit cards you have.

Edit 25th Jan 17:45: Assuming you don’t hold elite status in the Alaska Mileage Plan scheme (MVP, MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K), you are now limited to 150,000 miles credited per calendar year from points.com (i.e. buying miles as in this promotion). That includes the applicable bonus, and any miles gifted to you through points.com.

If this restricts you and you book as a couple then one option is to have your partner open an Alaska account too, which would then allow you to buy up to 150,000 miles each per calendar year, if required.

Remember this only applies to miles credited by points.com, and you are still free to transfer miles into Alaska on top of that limit from hotel loyalty programs for example, and of course from eligible revenue flying.

Thanks to freedom in the comments section for alerting us to this.

2A Bed 2.jpg
First Class on Cathay Pacific from Singapore to the USA for 70,000 miles is an excellent use of the Alaska scheme. Check our review of the seat. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Which card to use

Assuming like most of our readers you are based in Singapore, you’ll want to achieve the maximum number of credit card miles for the purchase itself when buying Alaska miles. If you do go ahead and buy, the transaction happens in US dollars (i.e. non-SGD) and is processed by points.com.

Pointsdotcom

You can earn the most extra miles for the purchase transaction by using one of the following Singapore issued credit cards if you can:

Card Miles per S$1 Notes
Card.png
DBS Women’s World Mastercard
(see our review)
4.0 4mpd on all online spend in a calendar month, capped at S$2,000.
Card.png
UOB Visa Signature
4.0 4mpd on all overseas spend of at least S$1,000 in a statement period, capped at S$2,000.
Card.png
BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard
(see our review)
3.0 3mpd on all non-SGD spend, with no cap.
image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02.png
Standard Chartered Visa Infinite
(see our review)
3.0 For non-SGD spend, provided total card spend (any currency) is S$2,000 or greater in the same statement cycle.
UOB-PRVI-MC.png
UOB PRVI Miles (see our review)
2.4 All non-SGD spend.
Card.jpg
OCBC Voyage Visa
(see our review)
2.3 All non-SGD spend.
citi-premiermiles-new.jpg
Citi PremierMiles (see our review)
2.0 All non-SGD spend.
Final Card Image.jpg
Citi Prestige (see our review)
2.0 All non-SGD spend.

We also understand the Citi Rewards Visa or Mastercard earns at the 10x bonus rewards rates (4 miles per dollar) on points.com transactions, though as we haven’t tried this do be cautious and don’t scold us if the bonus is not credited!

Card Miles per S$1 Notes
Citi Rewards Card.jpg
Citi Rewards Visa / MasterCard
(see our review)
4.0 points.com transactions qualify for 10x Rewards Points (4mpd). Remember a monthly cap now applies.

This can be a very nice deal

When used the right way, Alaska miles can represent very good value at these high bonus rates, with 40% being the second-highest bonus the airline tends to offer.

Alaska Air 737 (Alaska Air)
(Photo: Alaska Airlines)

As you might have guessed, or probably already know, First and Business Class redemptions with Alaska’s partner airlines are where the value lies.

If like us you’re based in Asia – think options like Cathay Pacific or JAL Business / First Class to the USA, Qantas from Sydney to Dallas in First Class on the A380, even Qantas flat-bed A330 domestic Business Class can be a steal with these miles.

We’ve outlined the great uses of Alaska miles to and from this region before, but here’s a recap of the options applicable to the majority of our readers.

Airline Routes
AAtrans.png Asia – Canada/USA, Caribbean & Mexico
Australia/NZ – Canada/USA
BAtrans.png India/South Asia – Canada/USA & Mexico
CXtrans.png Asia – Canada/USA
Australia/NZ – Canada/USA
India/South Asia – Canada/USA
Intra-Asia
Hong Kong – Africa, Australia/NZ, Europe, India/South Asia & Middle East
EKtrans2.png Asia – Canada/USA
Australia/NZ – Canada/USA
India/South Asia – Canada/USA
FJtrans.png Australia/NZ – USA
AYtrans.png Asia – Canada/USA, Europe & Mexico
India/South Asia – Canada/USA, Europe & Mexico
HUtrans.png Asia – Canada/USA & Mexico
Intra-China
JLtrans2 Asia – Canada/USA
Intra-Asia
KAtrans.png Asia – Canada/USA
Australia/NZ – Canada/USA
India/South Asia – Canada/USA
Korea – SE Asia
QFtrans.png Australia/NZ – Canada/USA
Intra-Australia

All of these can be searched and booked online via the Alaska Airlines portal, with the exception of Cathay Pacific awards where you’ll have to call Alaska Airlines to book. Ideally with Cathay you can use a program like British Airways Avios or American Airlines AAdvantage sites to search availability first before calling.

You’ll also have to call to book LATAM awards, though their flights between South America and Australia / New Zealand are not redeemable through Alaska miles so the options are not likely to be useful to our Asia-Pacific readers.

As we’ve mentioned before, there are varying accounts regarding what Cathay Pacific availability Alaska phone agents can and cannot see. We generally find the Cathay availability shown on the BA Avios site to be accurate.

CX B77W 2 (Cathay Pacific).jpg
Cathay Pacific is the only airline in the Alaska scheme flying to or from Asia where you’ll have to call to confirm award availability. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

Though a number of the reports we read about are negative, in our latest check in October last year while trying to secure a Cathay First Class HKG-LHR redemption for 2019 with one available award seat showing on the BA site, the Alaska phone rep could see two First Class award seats on this flight.

Moral of the story – there is no set rule. It could be the same as you see online, it could be less or it could be more, but one thing is certain – no matter what you find online elsewhere you won’t know for sure until you call.

The JAL stopover ‘trick’

One major benefit of Alaska miles is that you can add a free stopover to your journey. This allows a fairly unique trick here in Asia using Japan Airlines to create a pseudo-return itinerary in Business Class for just 25,000 Alaska miles. We’ve written about it before, but here’s a recap on how it works.

What’s the JAL ‘stopover trick’?

JLtrans.png

An exceptional rate of 25,000 Alaska miles for a ‘return’ flight from Singapore to Japan in Business Class.

JAL787SkySuite
(Photo: Japan Airlines)

This takes advantage of the ability under the Alaska scheme to book free stopovers on one-way redemption tickets. It means you can create a ‘pseudo return’ itinerary for a very low miles rate by booking a redemption to a close-by city, with a stopover in a distant one.

The JAL trick is effectively booking Japan Airlines from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, with a stopover in Tokyo. Sounds like it shouldn’t be possible – but it is, and it’s incredible value at 25,000 Alaska miles in business class (the equivalent of 12,500 miles for each 7 hour sector).

JAL Stopover Map.jpg
(Source: greatcirclemap.com)

Other routings are also possible, you could decide to start your journey in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok for example and return non-stop to Singapore. Jakarta is also an option.

Generally speaking, JAL Business Class award availability through Alaska MP is also quite good.

The variety of aircraft types used on JAL flights in Asia means you’ll likely be able to try out their newest ‘Sky Suite III’ and ‘Sky Suite 787’ flat-bed products, not to mention renowned on-board service and cuisine.

There’s also a selection of oneworld lounges to visit depending on your routing and the time of day, so this is your chance to try out facilities like the Qantas Singapore Lounge, JAL’s Tokyo lounges or the Qatar / Cathay offerings in Bangkok. Something new if you’re used to flying the Singapore Airlines / Star Alliance network.

JALbooking2.jpg

In order to search and book such an itinerary on the Alaska Airlines website, select ‘all search options’ under the booking area, then select ‘multi-city’ and of course ensure the ‘use miles’ option is selected.

After that simply enter each leg separately (e.g. Singapore to Tokyo for the first flight, Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur on the second flight), select the dates you want (your stopover in Tokyo can be as long as you like), then search to check award availability.

Other good redemptions

Even if the JAL trick isn’t of interest to you – there are plenty other good uses of Alaska miles. Here are a few more examples, with comparison against the miles needed for the same routings with other frequent flyer programs also shown:

Japan Airlines

AVIOStrans JALMBtrans AStrans
Singapore to New York
First Class*
200,000 85,000 75,000
Singapore to New York
Business Class
165,000 70,000 65,000

* Business Class Singapore to Tokyo, First Class Tokyo to New York

Cathay Pacific

AVIOStrans Asia AStrans
Singapore to Los Angeles
First Class
160,000 130,000 70,000
Singapore to Los Angeles
Business Class
135,000 85,000 50,000
Sydney to New York
First Class*
200,000 130,000 80,000
Sydney to New York
Business Class
165,000 85,000 60,000
Hong Kong to London
Business Class
90,000 65,000 42,500
Vancouver to New York
First Class
50,000 40,000 35,000

* Business Class Sydney to Hong Kong, First Class Hong Kong to New York

Note that you can fly Singapore to Europe on Cathay Pacific using Alaska miles, but they will charge you for the Singapore – Hong Kong (Intra-Asia) and Hong Kong – Europe rates combined (22,500 + 42,500), making it a relatively poor deal at 65,000 miles in Business Class.

It’s better to position to Hong Kong with a low-cost airline then take the competitive Business Class rate with Alaska miles from there in our opinion, or use Avios to get to Hong Kong for 20,000 points in Business.

Korean Air

GAtrans KEskypasstrans AStrans
Singapore to Chicago
Business Class
200,000
(return)
150,000
(return)
120,000
(return)

Qantas

AVIOStrans QFF AStrans
Sydney to Dallas
First Class
200,000 168,000 70,000
Sydney to Dallas
Business Class
165,000 112,000 55,000
Perth to Sydney
Business Class
37,500 36,000 20,000
Qantas 787 New Business (Qantas Airways).jpg
Qantas flies its latest 1-2-1 Business Class seats on many long-haul and domestic flights. (Photo: Qantas)

Emirates

EKtrans2 EKtrans.png QFF AStrans
Singapore to New York
First Class
178,750 168,000 180,000
Singapore to New York
Business Class
131,250 112,000 105,000

Finnair

AVIOStrans Asia AStrans
Singapore to London
Business Class
105,000 70,000 60,000

The full partner award charts are also available to search on the Alaska Mileage Plan site.

Click here to buy Alaska miles

No sign of Singapore Airlines awards

There’s still no sign of the ability to use Alaska Miles on Singapore Airlines flights, with the most recent addition being Finnair in August last year.

AY A350 J Overview (Finnair).jpg
Finnair redemptions are now available using Alaska miles, but we’re still waiting for Singapore Airlines awards. (Photo: Finnair)

SIA’s upcoming Singapore – Seattle services in September this year will depend heavily on connectivity at Alaska’s largest hub (that’s Seattle, not Anchorage!) and so we would expect an announcement on reciprocal award redemption across the two frequent flyer programs before then.

Don’t buy speculatively

As we always say – Alaska miles aren’t for everybody. You should not buy Alaska miles speculatively. Have a solid redemption plan in mind in the near future, or know exactly what you want to redeem now (having checked it’s available), as changes in both partner redemption relationships and valuations can occur.

Summary

One thing’s certain – you should never buy Alaska miles at full price. You shouldn’t even buy them at anything less than 40% bonus, because frankly this is a very regular offer. If you don’t need to jump on a redemption soon, it may also be a good idea to hold off for the top 50% bonus offer, previously appearing only once a year but lately coming around more often than that.

Alaska A320 (Alaska Airlines).jpg
(Photo: Alaska Airlines)

As for whether to buy at all, our advice never changes. Have a plan to use these miles first. Alaska miles are useful and valuable (we wouldn’t write about them if they weren’t), and you can achieve excellent value from them in a variety of cases.

That doesn’t mean they are immune from partner agreement changes and devaluations, so as always when buying miles – tread carefully.

Click here to buy Alaska miles

(Cover Photo: Matt@TWN via Flickr)

14 comments

    1. SIN-HKG-HND in 1st class, 27.5K miles, the only guaranteed 1st class within Asia. Beijing will be next-best for 1st class. I booked 1st class to PEK in May.

      1. Nice, quite a good value routing for CX First Class. In Business Class there aren’t many good value deals here at 22.5k each way, hence why SIN-HKG-Europe also becomes uncompetitive.

        Also you can’t use the stopover trick with CX as they don’t allow stopovers in HKG on intra-Asia routings.

        Bear in mind CX intra-Asia redemptions are not bookable within 72 hours of flight departure, so if you see something last minute on the Avios site for example Alaska might not be able to book it. Hainan and JAL are the same in fact.

  1. No longer unlimited for no-status member. read the fine print.

    Your Mileage Plan account may be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles acquired through Points.com in a calendar year, whether purchased by you or gifted to you. MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K.

    1. Thanks I hadn’t spotted that before! Will amend the article. The way I read it:

      – MVP status members can buy unlimited miles.
      – Non-status holders are limited to 150,000 miles per year including any bonus amounts.

      Is that how you interpret it?

      1. Thanks! I purchased some miles yesterday but they are still not credited to my account. Guess I’ll have to give them a call.

      2. I think it happens to new account. I have created my account last week and made the purchase but the points not credited yet. Contacted Alaska and was told it may take up to 5 days to be credited.

  2. I can’t seem to be able to search for flights availability using their webpage even when I use the all search option. I was trying to nook Emirates from Sin to Male. It says no flights available no matter how i key the options and dates.

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