On a per mile basis, Alaska Airlines miles is one of the most valuable out there. They don’t belong to an alliance, but partners with a ton of airlines that have superb products. They have been selling their miles pretty regularly at a discount, and they are back with another one for the holiday season. From now until the end of 2016, you can buy Alaska MileagePlan miles with up to a 40% bonus.
Buy Alaska Miles with a 40% Bonus
Alaska usually sells their miles at 2.75 cents a piece, but they are one of the few airlines that do not limit how many miles you can buy in a given year. The bonus is tiered, so you will have to buy at least 40,000 miles to get a 40% bonus. With the highest bonus, you are basically buy 56,000 miles for $1182.50; that’s 2.11 cents per mile.
That’s what Alaska has been pretty consistently offering for the past year or so. For that very reason, I don’t really recommend buying miles unless you have (somewhat) immediate plans to use them. Earlier in the year, they offered a bonus of up to 50%, though it was targeted, and came in the form of a “mystery bonus,” so only selected members are eligible.
Should You Buy Alaska Miles?
There are few reasons that make Alaska miles desirable. You can buy as many miles as you want, so some people like to treat it as a way to buy First and Business Class tickets as a discount (they are still by no means cheap!) This can be useful for people who are just getting started in the hobby, or won’t mind paying ~$2,000 for a quality Business Class flight to Asia. Alaska also allows stopovers on one-way awards, which is awesome, since you will get to visit 2 destinations with a one-way ticket! They also don’t levy fuel surcharges on all carriers (except British Airways), and offer free changes on your ticket up to 60 days prior to departure.
One of my favorite uses of Alaska miles is to fly round-trip from the US to Asia on Cathay Pacific. Alaska charges just 50,000 miles for a one-way ticket. So even if I buy miles outright at 2.11 cents apiece, I’m just paying ~$1,050 + taxes for a one-way ticket to Asia, in Cathay Pacific’s wonderful Business Class product. You can check out other redemption options in their award chart here.
Back in the days, Alaska used to be a good option for folks to redeem miles for Emirates First Class. Alaska significantly increased the cost of award travel on Emirates, so it’s really not a good value anymore. If you are looking to fly Emirates, I would suggest looking into using Japan Airlines miles, which is a transfer partner of SPG. You can also use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to redeem flights on Emirates via Korean Air.
I tend to buy Alaska miles when I have a chance, but I’ll be the first to admit that I am in somewhat of a unique position. That’s because my entire family visits Hong Kong (my hometown!) pretty frequently, and this is an easy way to get a lot of miles enough for what amounts to cheap Business Class tickets on Cathay Pacific. We have a good deal of flexibility, and Cathay Pacific is usually pretty reliable with award availability both far in advance and close to departure. However, your mileage (sorry) may vary here. This isn’t the cheapest I have seen Alaska sell their miles for, though is a pretty decent price.
As always, I have to point out that Alaska has devalued their award chart without notice before. Though they pledged to make announcements about changes ahead of time in the future, this can still be a “buyer beware” situation. I definitely do not recommend buying and hoarding miles, but this is a good opportunity though, if you have a trip coming up or a specific use in mind, like I do.
Enter to Win 1 Million Alaska Miles
It’s worth noting that with this sale, Alaska Airlines is concurrently running a sweepstakes, where you can win up to 1 million MileagePlan miles. There are also 2 secondary prizes of 250,000 miles, and 5 tertiary prizes of 100,000 miles each.
Keep in mind that with sweepstakes like this one, you don’t actually need to buy miles to enter the sweepstakes. You can mail a postcard with the following information, and reference “Points.com Inc Mileage Plan Miles Sweepstakes.” You can mail the card to Points, 351 California Street, Suite 1210, San Francisco, CA 94108.
- First and last name
- Mailing address
- Phone number
As always with sweepstakes, there will be tax responsibility if you do win. The grand prize of 1 million miles is valued at $25,200, which will be treated as additional income when you file your taxes, depending on the jurisdiction.
You can buy Alaska MileagePlan miles here.