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Alaska Mileage Plan buy miles 60% bonus offer

Last chance before Alaska Airlines joins oneworld? For better or worse, buy miles at up to 60% bonus between now and mid-February.

Our regular readers will know that Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan miles are a great way to tap into good value First and Business Class redemptions with a variety of airlines, in ‘normal times’. They’ll also know they aren’t something you’d ever fork out for without a promotion running, because there almost always is one.

As usual, the airline is back with one of its regular ‘buy miles’ promotions this month, offering a 60% bonus deal for selected members, which allows you to purchase at 1.85 US cents per mile.

While travel remains uncertain, this does have the potential to unlock some good value redemptions later in 2021 and beyond, though it’s certainly time to tread carefully given the ongoing COVID-19 situation and Alaska’s entry into the oneworld alliance in two months’ time, which could be a double-edged sword.

The new offer runs from now until 15th February 2021 in Singapore.

The January 2021 offer

This is the eighth Alaska miles bonus offer since the COVID-19 situation took hold, with anywhere from 40% up to 60% bonus promotions already in the lineup over the last 12 months.

Some bad news though – since the CARES act for aviation ticket taxes expired in the US, federal excise taxes of 7.5% are back – meaning even at the 60% bonus level you’re actually paying slightly more per mile compared to a 50% bonus late last year!

The exact deal is targeted specifically for your account, so log on to check. Not everyone receives the same offer.

Pro Tip: Never buy Alaska miles at full price, unless you need a small top-up quickly to achieve a specific redemption, or to urgently keep your existing balance alive if it is about to expire. These miles are almost always available on offer (there were 14 purchase bonus offers in 2019 and 2020).
AStrans

Here’s a typical 60% deal, as structured for my account:

Miles purchased Bonus Cost per mile
1,000 – 2,000 None 2.96 US ¢
3,000 – 39,000 40% 2.11 US ¢
40,000 – 100,000 60% 1.85 US ¢

If you are not an elite member, your account may only be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles (acquired through buying miles) in a calendar year, whether purchased by you or gifted to you.

MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan member accounts have no annual limit on the number of miles which may be purchased or gifted.

  Click here to buy Alaska Miles

Deadline: 15th February 2021

The offer closes at 11.59pm PST on Sunday 14th February 2021, which is 3.59pm on Monday 15th February 2021 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 15th February in Singapore if you’re interested, just in case you have any issues or the payment doesn’t go through first time.

Why buy Alaska miles?

In normal circumstances we’d recommend buying Alaska miles at anything from 50% bonus rates or more, for excellent value First and Business Class award tickets with airlines like Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.

That’s because even if you don’t earn Alaska miles through other means (e.g. Kaligo hotel bookings, or crediting miles from paid Emirates / SIA bookings to the programme), the effective ‘fares’ you are paying for these redemptions are highly competitive, even having only acquired your miles in one of these sales.

In many cases, taxes are low with no fuel surcharges levied and Alaska allows free stopovers for no additional miles on most itineraries.

Here are some examples, with the effective cost shown based on buying all the miles you need for the booking.

JLtrans.png

AStrans Effective cost buying at bonus levels (US$):
40% 60%
Singapore to New York
First Class*
75,000
miles
$1,584 $1,386
Singapore to New York
Business Class
65,000
miles
$1,373 $1,201
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
25,000
miles
$528 $462

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

Singapore to the USA in JAL First Class for 75,000 Alaska miles is one of the standout redemptions in the programme, and just in case you thought it wasn’t possible:

JAL F SINJFK

This itinerary would cost you just US$1,386 if you bought Alaska miles at a 60% bonus rate, though to be fair no one will be complaining much about spending US$1,584 for the experience at the lower 40% bonus level.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
JAL Boeing 777 Business Class from Singapore to Tokyo. (Photo: Melv_L – MACASR via Flickr)

While the first flight up to Tokyo is in JAL’s Business Class seat, you’ll be in First Class for the longer overnight flight to New York.

JL First Class (JAL)
JAL Boeing 777 First Class from Tokyo to New York. (Photo: JAL)

Better still, you can search and book JAL award tickets using Alaska miles wholly online, including availability view by month, no fuel surcharges are added so the taxes are low, and you can have a free stopover in Tokyo on this itinerary for no additional miles (just US$22 in additional taxes).

SQtrans small

AStrans Effective cost buying at bonus levels (US$):
40% 60%
Tokyo to Los Angeles
Business Class
80,000
miles
$1,689 $1,478

There aren’t really any great value ways to use Alaska miles on Singapore Airlines, since the intra-Asia stopover ‘tricks’ were shut down in October 2019.

Perhaps the only decent value option is a Business Class ticket on one of the airline’s fifth freedom routes between Tokyo and Los Angeles, usually 92,000 KrisFlyer miles but available for 80,000 Alaska miles or the equivalent of US$1,478 with a 60% purchase bonus.

It’s not an incredible deal but personally we would probably rather buy the Alaska miles for this one and save the 92,000 KrisFlyer miles for a better value redemption, assuming we needed to fly this city pair in isolation.

CXtrans2.png

AStrans Effective cost buying at bonus levels (US$):
40% 60%
Singapore to Los Angeles
First Class*
70,000
miles
$1,478 $1,293
Singapore to Los Angeles
Business Class
50,000
miles
$1,056 $924
Sydney to New York
First Class*
80,000
miles
$1,689 $1,478
Sydney to New York
Business Class
60,000
miles
$1,267 $1,109
Hong Kong to London
Business Class
42,500
miles
$897 $785
Singapore to Tokyo
Business Class
22,500
miles
$475 $416

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

There are some great value ways to use Alaska miles on Cathay Pacific, including Singapore to the USA in Business Class for US$924 (if you buy at the 60% bonus rate).

Even Singapore to Tokyo or Seoul for example drops to US$416 in Business Class at a 60% bonus.

1A Boarding
Singapore to Los Angeles, including the Hong Kong to Los Angeles sector in Cathay Pacific’s excellent First Class, is only 70,000 Alaska miles. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Bear in mind though that Cathay Pacific awards using Alaska miles are not searchable or bookable online, so you’ll have to call to secure them. Using the British Airways Avios or American Airlines AAdvantage search engines to check award availability beforehand is usually accurate.

QFtrans.png

AStrans Effective cost buying at bonus levels (US$):
40% 60%
Sydney to Dallas
First Class
70,000
miles
$1,478 $1,293
Sydney to Dallas
Business Class
55,000
miles
$1,161 $1,016
Perth to Sydney
Business Class
20,000
miles
$422 $370

If you’re based in Australia, using Alaska miles for coast-to-coast domestic flights in Business Class on Qantas, like Perth to Sydney or Perth to Melbourne at 20,000 miles each way, is great value. That’s equivalent to just US$370 when buying with a 60% bonus.

Pick an Airbus A330 or Boeing 787 for the newest flat-bed seats.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Qantas-787-J-Qantas.jpg

It’s also worth checking out Australia to USA award pricing.

QF SYDDFW F

Business Class on one of the world’s longest flights (the 16-hour mammoth from Sydney to Dallas) comes in at around US$1,016 when buying miles at a 50% bonus.

KAtrans

AStrans Effective cost buying at bonus levels (US$):
40% 60%
Singapore to Chicago
Business Class
120,000
miles return
$2,534 $2,217

Korean Air awards must be booked as a round-trip, however for 120,000 miles you can fly from Singapore to the USA and back in Business Class for US$2,200 at the 60% bonus rate.

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

Cancellation fees

Do note that Alaska Airlines charges a US$125 fee (around S$170 at the time of writing) 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.

Note: Alaska is currently offering change and cancellation fee waiver for award tickets booked between now and 31st March 2021, for travel booked through 28th February 2022, due to the COVID-19 situation. Tickets must be changed or canceled prior to the departure of your original flight.

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
Emirates First Class redemptions using Alaska Miles end 31st March 2021
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

Additional partners will become available once the airline joins the oneworld alliance on 31st March 2021, though specific award rates for new partners including Malaysia Airlines are not known yet, and the existing award charts could be up for some “modifications” at the same time!

You can view the full current Alaska miles award charts here.

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 MC 2019Citi Rewards
(see our review)
4.0 4 mpd on all online spend in a statement period, capped at S$1,000 per card.
Card.pngDBS WWMC*
(see our review)
4.0* 4 mpd on all online spend in a calendar month, capped at S$2,000.
Card.pngUOB Visa Signature
(see our review)
4.0 4 mpd on all overseas spend of at least S$1,000 in a statement period, capped at S$2,000.
image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02.pngStandard Chartered VI
(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.pngUOB PRVI Miles (see our review) 2.4 All non-SGD spend.
Card.jpgOCBC Voyage Visa
(see our review)
2.2 All non-SGD spend.
Card2019.pngCiti PremierMiles (see our review) 2.0 All non-SGD spend.
Card2019.pngCiti Prestige (see our review) 2.0 All non-SGD spend.

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

Should you buy?

In our opinion – probably not.

Even with this 60% bonus on offer, buying Alaska Miles speculatively in the current climate doesn’t seem wise, unless you’re taking this opportunity to top-up for a specific redemption (towards the end of 2021 for example).

Also, the addition of federal excise tax again really brings the effective cost per mile back to 50% bonus levels anyway, which were available in late 2020.

Business Bedding
Some of the redemptions you can achieve using Alaska miles at a 60% purchase bonus, including US$416 from Singapore to Tokyo in Cathay Pacific Business Class, are seriously tempting – but be careful. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

Alaska Airlines should survive COVID-19, but no airline is 100% immune. Crucially, Alaska Mileage Plan is not ring-fenced from the airline. If Alaska Airlines goes down, so do your miles.

If you used Alaska miles in this example to make a partner redemption, like a JAL flight sometime in 2021, chances are it will not be honoured as the financial compensation between Alaska and the partner airline for an award flight happens after the flight has taken place.

Given that JAL knows it won’t be compensated in this case, they likely won’t honour the booking.

There’s also the risk of devaluation. Alaska miles have been devalued before, sometimes without notice, and the airline’s upcoming entry into the oneworld alliance (now confirmed for 31st March 2021) spells bad news for future changes to the award charts in our opinion.

If you still want to though:

  Click here to buy Alaska Miles

Links on Mainly Miles may pay us an affiliate commission.

(Cover Photo: Alaska Airlines)

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