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Buy Alaska miles with a 40% bonus until 17 February 2020

Buy Alaska Miles with a 40% bonus until 17th February for good value First and Business Class redemptions

EXPIRED This article relates to an offer or promotion which has now expired.

Alaska Air 737 Overhead (Alaska Air)

Alaska Mileage Plan is back with another of its regular ‘buy miles’ promotions this month, with a 40% bonus on offer for those purchasing or topping up their balance between now and 17th February 2020.

Despite shutting down the popular intra-Asia stopover option in October last year, many of our readers still find value in holding an Alaska Miles balance for a range of cheap redemptions with the likes of Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

The January 2020 offer

AStrans

Alaska Airlines often tailors these promotions slightly depending on your customer profile, so you’ll need to log on to your Mileage Plan account to check how your individual bonus is structured – since not everyone always gets exactly the same deal.

Alaska Jan20 Offer

We have different offers this time, with Eddie getting:

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

While my offer is structured differently:

  • 1,000 – 14,000 miles – no bonus (2.96 US ¢ / mile)
  • 15,000 – 60,000 miles – 40% bonus (2.11 US ¢ / mile)

Alaska Jan20 Structure

Either way, the top bonus level looks to be 40%, a little shy of Alaska’s (regularly offered) top bonus rate of 50%, where you’ll be buying miles at a slightly better 1.97 US cents each.

You can credit up to 150,000 Alaska miles into your account per year this way, including the bonus level, unless you’re an MVP, MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K member, in which case there is no annual cap.

The upper limit to buy miles in this promotion is 60,000 (+24,000 bonus miles = 84,000 miles), however you can complete more than one purchase if you wish.

Max Miles Jan20
The maximum miles you can buy in a single transaction this month

Is it worth it?

The loss of the intra-Asia stopover trick using Alaska Miles last year was a big disappointment for many of our readers; it’s certainly true to say that a number of you only bought these miles to exploit this (longstanding) ‘loophole’.

JAL Stopover Map
What’s no longer possible – 14 hours in JAL Business Class for 25,000 miles

There’s not too much point dwelling on what this was (14 hours in a flat-bed Business Class seat for around S$700), because we now have to focus on what other value the scheme still offers.

You can still redeem JAL flights using Alaska miles, however these now price at the 25,000 miles intra-Asia rate in Business Class for both sectors of your journey. Previously the stopover trick allowed a ‘pseudo-return’ itinerary for this price.

While that doubles the cost, effectively to S$1,400+ if you’re buying the miles at the 40% bonus rate, it’s actually still not necessarily a bad deal compared with cash fares on the route.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
An exceptional Business Class deal is now more of a ‘good deal’. (Photo: Melv_L – MACASR via Flickr)

It also means there’s no need to ‘position’ yourself at the start or end of the journey, as was required under the stopover system where your origin and ultimate destination (at the end of your trip) could not be the same.

Most of our readers achieved this by flying through Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur for one of the two flights, but now you can fly for 50,000 miles return to and from Singapore (like you always could).

JALbooking3
The ‘new’ way. Twice as many miles, but at least no positioning is required.

It’s certainly a decent way to use up any miles you have left, but probably isn’t enough of an incentive for you to buy a fresh batch given that you’ll be subject to award availability on the route, while cash fares have almost a full choice of dates and times.

Pro Tip: JAL is selling Singapore to Tokyo return flights in Business Class for S$2,500 in March 2020, but Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo return is S$2,000 – or less than S$1,600 on the (arguably as good) Malaysia Airlines A350. That makes buying 50,000 Alaska miles for a JAL itinerary to and from Japan of relatively limited value, especially if you are willing to be flexible with your departure point.

Singapore Airlines redemptions

Singapore Airlines flights became redeemable using Alaska miles in October 2019, including their coveted Suites and long-haul Business Class seats – usually excluded from partner redemption agreements.

Unfortunately there is not really any fantastic value for SIA award seats since the intra-Asia stopover option was plugged, soon after they became available in the first place.

If you’re rich in Alaska miles, the only decent deals are to use them for SIA’s Business or First Class flights to and from the USA.

SQtrans small

KF Logo trans AStrans
Singapore to New York
Business Class
99,000 100,000
Singapore to New York
First Class
132,000 125,000
Tokyo to Los Angeles
Business Class
92,000 80,000
Tokyo to Los Angeles
First Class
125,000 110,000

None of these rates are likely to make you want to buy Alaska miles at around 2 US cents each for this purpose, however.

Pro Tip: Another benefit of using Alaska miles on Singapore Airlines is different (i.e. sometimes better) award availability than to KrisFlyer members. We’ve recently seen more award space in Business Class on non-stop A350ULR flights such as SIN-EWR than KrisFlyer is offering at saver award level. Alaska members also seem to get more space on Singapore – Australia flights in premium cabins.

Other good value uses of Alaska miles

Here are some alternative examples, with a comparison against miles rates with other frequent flyer programmes on the same routes.

Japan Airlines

JLtrans.png

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
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
62,000 40,000 25,000

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

If you managed to buy Alaska miles in one of the 50% bonus sales, the top level regularly offered, you’re looking at US$1,478 from Singapore to New York in First Class, US$1,281 in Business Class or US$493 to Tokyo in Business Class.

Yes, you’ll have to find the award availability (easier on Singapore to Tokyo than Singapore to New York!), but these are competitive ‘fares’.

Cathay Pacific

CXtrans2.png

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
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
44,000 45,000 22,500

* Business Class to Hong Kong, then First Class to the USA

There are a range of good value Cathay Pacific options, including Singapore to the USA for 50,000 miles in Business Class (US$985 if you buy Alaska miles with a 50% bonus, or US$1,055 at this 40% bonus level).

Singapore to Tokyo via Hong Kong in Business Class, with some excellent lounges along the way, is 22,500 miles (US$443 assuming a 50% bonus when you bought, or US$475 with a 40% bonus). This is even cheaper than the JAL rate now the stopover trick has ceased, though many will see an aircraft change in Hong Kong as an inconvenience.

1A Boarding
Cathay Pacific First Class to the USA is 70,000 Alaska miles. See our review. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

I have personally used my Alaska miles for a last-minute (day before) Cathay Pacific Hong Kong to London flight in Business Class for 42,500 miles, a 13-hour flight typically costing at least S$6,000.

At this 40% bonus level, those miles are costing just US$897.

Qantas

QFtrans.png

If you’re a regular traveller to or from Australia, or can include the country in your travel plans, Alaska miles provide both a domestic and USA option using Qantas.

AVIOStrans QFF AStrans
Sydney to Dallas
First Class
206,000 189,900 70,000
Sydney to Dallas
Business Class
154,500 126,500 55,000
Perth to Sydney
Business Class
38,750 41,500 20,000

If you pick the right aircraft type, Perth to Sydney in a flat-bed Business Class seat (choose an A330) is coming in at US$422 when the miles are bought with a 40% bonus, significantly less than cash fares.

Qantas 787 J (Qantas)
New Business Class on Qantas Airbus A330s, Boeing 787s and selected Airbus A380s. (Photo: Qantas)

Partner availability on Qantas international routes is restrictive, however for domestic flights it’s mostly wide open.

All options

For those not familiar, here’s a recap of the airline and route options using Alaska Miles applicable to the majority of our readers in Asia-Pacific.

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
SQtrans small.png Asia – USA
Asia – South Pacific
Asia – India
Asia – Middle East
Asia – Europe
Asia – Africa
Intra-Asia

You can search and redeem online for all partners, except Cathay Pacific and LATAM, where it’s done over the phone.

You can view the full Alaska miles award charts here.

Cancellation fees

Do note that Alaska Airlines charges a US$125 fee (around S$170) for award ticket changes or cancellations, which is pretty steep. You’ll no doubt want to have relatively firm travel plans and dates before booking, in order to avoid this penalty.

Deadline: 17th February 2020

The offer closes at 11.59pm PST on Sunday 16th February 2020, which is 3.59pm on Monday 17th February Singapore time.

Alaska is strict about the offer deadline, so it will completely disappear at the end time – we’ve tested it to the minute in the past. We would therefore recommend making your purchase before approximately 2pm on 17th February in Singapore if you’re interested, just in case you have any issues or the payment doesn’t go through first time.

Click here to buy Alaska miles

Which card to use

If you are going to buy in this promotion, and 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.

The transaction itself 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
Citi Rewards Card.jpg
Citi Rewards Visa / MasterCard
(see our review)
4.0 4mpd on all online spend in a statement period, capped at S$1,000 per card.
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.
Card2019.png
Citi PremierMiles (see our review)
2.0 All non-SGD spend.
Card2019.png
Citi Prestige (see our review)
2.0 All non-SGD spend.

* Note: One of our readers reported that using the DBS WWMC card via points.com does not automatically award the higher 4mpd earn rate. You must usually appeal and claim the miles later.

Summary

There’s still value in using Alaska miles for a relatively wide range of Business Class and First Class award seats to and from the Asia-Pacific region, even though the best deals of all have now fallen by the wayside.

Some intra-Asia itineraries can also make sense where fares are high and award space can still be secured.

As past devaluations and rule changes have shown, and as we’ve always said, you should not buy Alaska miles speculatively. Have a plan to use them, preferably in the near future, before you take the plunge. Changes in both partner redemption relationships and valuations can occur.

Business Bedding
Consider using Alaska miles on partners like Cathay Pacific to the USA for good value. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

It’s also worth noting that Alaska miles are occasionally offered at a 50% bonus level, typically several times a year lately, so if you don’t need the miles now we would definitely recommend waiting for one of those more generous promotions to come up.

Click here to buy Alaska miles

(Cover Photo: VDB Photos / Shutterstock)

2 comments

  1. My points.com transaction is not getting 4mpd for citi rewards MasterCard as citi mention it’s business service and not a retail merchant.

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