Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan

Post Published September 30, 2023

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Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan - Earn Miles Quickly with Alaska Airlines Credit Cards

Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan

Alaska Airlines offers some of the most rewarding co-branded credit cards for earning Alaska Mileage Plan miles quickly. With generous signup bonuses, category bonuses, and everyday earning rates, these cards make it easy to rack up miles for your next dream vacation.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is a top choice with its lucrative signup bonus offer of 50,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion FareTM from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. The companion fare benefit alone can be worth hundreds of dollars on a single roundtrip flight.

You’ll earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile per $1 on everything else. The miles really add up from everyday spend bonuses at popular merchants like grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants. You can earn 3x miles per $1 spent at restaurants worldwide and 2x miles per $1 on eligible hotel stays booked directly with the hotel.

Another option is the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card that comes with a lucrative limited-time offer: up to 90,000 bonus miles. Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account, plus earn an additional 40,000 bonus miles after you make $4,000 total in purchases within the first 180 days of opening your account.

This card takes rewards up a notch by offering a free checked bag for you and up to six other passengers on your reservation along with 50% off Alaska Lounge day passes. You’ll enjoy the same enhanced rewards for spending in bonus categories like 3x miles on Alaska Airlines purchases.

One of the best parts about choosing an Alaska Airlines credit card is that miles never expire. As long as you have activity on your credit card account at least once every 24 months, your hard-earned miles will stay active.

Many loyal Alaska flyers opt to carry both the personal and business versions of the Alaska Airlines credit cards to maximize how quickly they can earn rewards. By strategically putting different types of purchases on each card, you can take advantage of the bonus category spending offers on each.

For instance, use the personal card for everyday purchases like groceries, gas and dining out to earn triple miles. Use the business card for Alaska Airlines purchases and other business expenses to capitalize on its enhanced earning rates. This combo strategy essentially puts miles-earning on autopilot.

Credit card signup bonuses offer an easy way to earn a large chunk of miles upfront. But don’t stop there! Ongoing spending on an Alaska Airlines credit card will help you maintain an ample mileage balance for redeeming future award flights and upgrades.

Alaska Airlines frequently offers limited-time elevated credit card welcome bonuses around peak travel seasons and holidays when they know customers are eager to earn miles quickly. Pay attention to bonus offers fluctuating throughout the year and consider applying during promotional periods.

Many cardholders specifically time credit card applications to align with an upcoming trip they are planning to book award flights for. This helps ensure they will have enough miles in their account by the time they are ready to redeem.

Keep in mind that most airlines allow you to book award seats up to 11 months in advance. So you’ll want to make sure you earn an adequate number of miles at least 11 months ahead of your planned trip dates.

Racking up Alaska miles goes hand in hand with strategically boosting your credit card’s signup bonus. As a new cardholder, you can take steps to earn the bonus quickly and reach the minimum spending requirement within the designated timeframe (usually 3 months).

Consider paying for any larger expenses on the card, like bills, tuition, or tax payments. Prepaying utilities and wireless phone bills a few months in advance counts toward the bonus spending threshold.

Purchasing gift cards for grocery stores and other frequently-visited merchants you would be spending money at anyway also helps add to your total spend. Just be sure to factor in any purchase fees on gift cards, as those likely won’t count toward the bonus.

Partner bonuses and promotions like shopping portals can help you pick up additional Alaska miles through everyday activities. Browse the “Earn Miles” section on to explore current offers from brand partners that range from rental cars to flowers. Simply click through any special links prior to making purchases with participating brands.

Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan - Maximize Award Travel with Alaska's Unique Partners

Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan

One of the best parts about being part of Alaska Mileage Plan is the opportunity to maximize your award travel by taking advantage of the program’s unique global partners. Alaska isn’t part of one of the major airline alliances, so they’ve forged strategic partnerships individually with select carriers.

This opens up valuable redemption opportunities to destinations you otherwise may not be able to reach on Alaska metal. The standout partners to be aware of are Emirates, Fiji Airways and Singapore Airlines. These airlines serve premier long-haul routes that can really get you the most bang for your miles.

Singapore Airlines is my personal favorite option. Alaska miles can be redeemed for premium Singapore Suites and business class awards at very reasonable rates. Singapore flies their latest cabins with all the bells and whistles to major Asian hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. But they also connect through to smaller destinations across the Asia-Pacific region, including Bali, Phuket and Manila.

Experienced airline mileage collectors love to book Singapore first and business class awards using Alaska miles because their award chart is very attractively priced. You’ll only pay 70,000 Alaska miles one-way from North America to Asia in Singapore Suites - one of the top first class experiences in the sky. Compared to some other programs charging 90,000+ miles for Singapore awards, Alaska's rates are a bargain.

Singapore’s modern A380s feature truly luxurious accommodations in suites and business class that live up to Singapore's reputation for premium service. You can expect delicious dining, top notch in-flight amenities and of course, Singapore's iconic hospitality and cabin crew. Alaska miles open the door to enjoying these best-in-class perks at a lower cost.

Emirates is another marquee Alaska partner that can get you to the Middle East, India and Africa in style. They fly some of the world’s longest routes between the US and Dubai on the A380. Alaska Mileage Plan charges 85,000 miles for Emirates first class one-way between North America and the Middle East.

Their business class product is also highly regarded. You'll pay 57,500 Alaska miles each way to fly in Emirates business class between Dubai and points across Asia or Africa. Emirates business class amenity kits stocked with luxury Bulgari toiletries and their signature craft cocktails in the Onboard Lounge are just some of the memorable touches they offer.

Since Emirates has fifth freedom rights between Milan, Athens and New York, you can fly nonstop between the US and these European cities using Alaska miles on Emirates too. This opens up convenient routes that let you skip some of the hub congestion in bigger hubs like London or Frankfurt.

Then there's Fiji Airways, offering leisure travelers a chance to jet to sunny South Pacific shores using Alaska miles. Fiji Airways flies direct from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Nadi International Airport, the gateway to Fiji's tropical islands. You can book roundtrip economy awards from the west coast to Fiji starting at only 40,000 Alaska miles.

Stretching your miles even further, Fiji Airways allows one free stopover in Fiji on award tickets. This makes for an easy beach getaway enroute to destinations in Australia and New Zealand. You can break up the flight by spending a few days relaxing in paradise before continuing on to Auckland or Sydney.

Alaska's partnership with Fiji Airways also opens up connections to smaller island getaways like Samoa, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands and Tonga. These remote South Pacific idylls aren't directly served by major airlines from North America. Being able to reach them with a quick connection in Fiji is a bonus for travelers seeking off-the-beaten-path adventures using Alaska Mileage Plan miles.

One pro tip when booking award flights on Alaska's partners is to search segment by segment. Look for space on the long-haul transoceanic or transcontinental portion first if that’s the part that matters most to you. Once you’ve found award availability for the long-haul portion, you can call Alaska Mileage Plan directly to add on the domestic connector flights.

Alaska’s helpful agents are experts at piecing together complete itineraries using both Alaska and partner award space. Don’t hesitate to enlist their assistance putting all the legs together, even if it means an extra phone call. They'll work hard to construct the ideal routing to make the most of your miles.

Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan - Elite Status Perks Worth Striving For

Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan

Alaska Mileage Plan offers a couple tiers of elite status that unlock an array of perks and privileges for frequent flyers. Silver, Gold, and MVP Gold require 25,000, 50,000 and 75,000 qualifying miles respectively to earn each year. While elite qualification thresholds recently increased across the airline industry, Alaska's top-tier MVP Gold status is still attainable at a lower threshold than many competitor programs.

For road warriors who log hundreds of thousands of miles annually, climbing to MVP Gold delivers some standout benefits that can really improve the travel experience. But even Silver status goes a long way for infrequent travelers by providing priority services and discounts on awards.

One of the best Alaska status perks is complimentary space-available upgrades to first class as a Gold or MVP Gold member. Upgrades clear days before departure, so you'll know in advance if you scored that big comfy seat up front. MVP Gold members even get unlimited, unlimited complimentary upgrades to first class or premium class on all fare types.

During my time flying over 200,000 miles per year, I always maxed out on 500-mile upgrade certificates as an MVP Gold member. Applying those to paid tickets is an opportunity to confirm an upgrade further out from departure. I loved being able to book economy and instantly upgrade to first with miles for long transcons from the east coast to Seattle.

Upgrade priority also means earlier access to extra legroom seats. I purchased the cheapest main cabin fares I could find, and then used my elite status to nab exit row seats at no extra charge. Having that extra breathing room for long flights to Hawaii or Anchorage was invaluable.

Another outstanding elite privilege is Alaska's newest status perk: complementary access to their stylish new lounges. MVP Gold flyers get to bring in two guests for free, while Gold guests pay a reduced fee of $50 per person. Considering a single day pass costs $50, lounge access is hugely valuable.

I was impressed by Alaska's Flagship Lounge in Seattle with its chef-curated dining menu, premium cocktails and floor-to-ceiling views of Mount Rainier. It felt like an oasis to unwind in before my flight. Lounge access across Alaska's growing network of premium lounges is easily worth the upgrade activity required at MVP Gold status.

One simple yet satisfying perk I appreciated was priority check-in access with my Gold status. After a long journey just to get to the airport, being able to skip to the front of the check-in line was a relief. I could check my bag quickly and get through security faster to maximize my time in the lounge.

50% bonus miles on flights as an MVP Gold member definitely incentivized me to stick to Alaska for my paid travels. I earned miles so fast that I could redeem them for free flights sooner. Plus, reaching Alaska status helped me qualify for status matches with other airlines too, like American AAdvantage and Delta SkyMiles.

Speaking of mileage redemptions, higher tier elites receive an elevated award ticket discount. Gold members save 25% on coach and first class awards, while MVP Golds save 50% on coach and 75% on first class awards. These discounts enabled me to book some unforgettable international itineraries in premium cabins at reduced rates.

One key strategy I utilized was timing status qualification around big ticket purchases I had planned for the following year. For example, if I knew I’d be flying my parents out to visit in 6 months, I made sure to re-qualify for status now so we could all enjoy the perks like lounge access and priority services on those trips together.

Even one roundtrip first class companion fare benefit alone as a credit card holder justified the value of elite status qualification to me. If I picked the right high-price route like Boston to San Diego, I could score over $1,000 in value from that one companion perk.

Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan - Strategies to Get the Most Value from Your Miles

Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan

Earning miles is only half the battle - you also want to make sure you maximize the value you get from your hard-earned rewards. Alaska Mileage Plan miles are extremely versatile. With thoughtful planning, you can really stretch each mile to its fullest potential. Follow these strategies to unlock incredible redemptions.

Book high-value international partner awards. Alaska isn't part of a major airline alliance, so they hand-pick unique individual airline partners. Take advantage of this by redeeming your Alaska miles for ultra long-haul premium cabin flights on marquee carriers like Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

For instance, you can fly one-way in Emirates First Class between North America and the Middle East for only 85,000 Alaska miles. That same ticket would cost nearly double the amount through some other loyalty programs. Flying in the over-the-top Emirates First Class suite complete with in-flight shower and lounge is an unforgettable experience made affordable through Alaska Mileage Plan's reasonable award rates.

Singapore Airlines premium cabins also offer tremendous value given Alaska's very attractive award chart pricing. Fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo roundtrip in Singapore Business Class for only 90,000 Alaska miles. With airfares fluctuating wildly nowadays, redeeming miles at a fixed rate takes the guesswork out of budgeting for a dream trip to Asia.

Book off the beaten path with partners. Another perk of Alaska's partnerships is the ability to reach smaller cities other programs don't fly to. Redeem miles for flights on Fiji Airways from the west coast to the South Pacific. You can island hop from Fiji to Vanuatu, Samoa, Tahiti and other far flung paradises for fewer miles than you may expect.

Similarly, flying on Icelandair via their Reykjavik hub opens up discounted award travel to Nordic regions like Greenland, Sweden and Norway. The geography of Alaska's network gives you cheaper access to more bucket list destinations.

Upgrade with miles. One of my favorite Alaska Mileage Plan tips is to use your miles for upgrades on paid tickets. Upgrade awards start at only 15,000 miles each way from coach to first class within North America. That's a bargain compared to buying a business class ticket outright.

Apply upgrade certificates from your Alaska Airlines credit card along with miles to confirm an upgrade further out from departure. Enjoy riding in comfort and style without breaking the bank on expensive published fares. Upgrade awards are also a smart way to subsidize the cost of taking a special trip in a premium cabin with family or your significant other.

Book partner awards with stopovers. Make the most of Alaska's partner awards by taking advantage of free stopovers in hub cities like Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, Dubai on Emirates or Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. Extend your travels at no extra mileage cost and enjoy an extended visit in that part of the world.

For example, fly from Los Angeles to Bangkok via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, with a week or two stopover in Hong Kong on the outbound. Then continue on to Thailand before returning back home. You essentially get two vacations to plan for the price of one award ticket. Stopovers keep your miles active longer.

Redeem for cheap domestic connections. Another mileage maximizing strategy specific to Alaska is redeeming miles for short connecting flights. Use miles strategically where cash fares might otherwise be very expensive for flights under 500 miles.

For example, flights within Alaska can be pricey if you're traveling between small towns. Use just 5,000 miles each way between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Or hop between islands in Hawaii, with award rates starting at only 7,500 miles between Honolulu and Maui.

Alaska's program is especially mileage-friendly for these short hops to pricey destinations. Their award chart sets reasonable rates in contrast to the sky-high walk-up fares. Don't overspend if you have miles to redeem.

Book multi-city itineraries. For more complex trips, expert travelers recommend piecing together multiple one-way award tickets on Alaska and its partners. This strategy opens up more possibilities than traditional roundtrips.

Maybe you want to visit multiple Hawaiian islands or combine Alaska with a Seattle city break. Booking one-way awards gives you maximum flexibility to cover a lot of ground. Alaska mileage plan agents are pros at constructing complex multi-city awards to get you where you want to go.

Watch for bonuses. Keep an eye out for periodic bonus mileage offers on purchased tickets as an elite member or credit card holder. Occasionally Alaska runs promotions like double miles that make everyday flights extra rewarding.

Time big purchases like upgrading your companion fare ticket to first class when bonus miles offers are active. Stack these promotions with your standard elite bonuses and credit card points to exponentially increase your earnings. Bonus miles provide an easy mileage infusion.

Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan - Tips to Redeem Miles for International Premium Cabin Flights

Make the Most of Your Miles: The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Mileage Plan

Many travelers aspire to cross an ocean or traverse continents in lie-flat luxury, but high ticket prices put the dream out of reach. This is where miles can make all the difference. Alaska Mileage Plan's reasonable premium cabin redemption rates unlock the possibility of flying in first or business class on leading global carriers. Follow these strategies to experience premium service in the skies without draining your wallet.

Book early and be flexible. As soon as an award schedule opens up (typically 11 months out), mileage experts advise checking for premium cabin award space. Airlines release a limited number of award seats, particularly in first class, so you’ll boost your chances by searching as far ahead as possible. Remain flexible on your dates and nearby airports as well to increase options. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results – keep searching regularly as award inventory can fluctuate.

Target less crowded routes. Look into flying on routes between North America and destinations like Australia, India, Southeast Asia and Africa. Airlines adjust premium cabin award space based on paid demand. These less high-traffic routes tend to have better award availability than busy transatlantic corridors. Using Alaska's partners that serve these destinations like Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Singapore Airlines opens up opportunities. Being open-minded wins out over fixating on a single perfect route or flight.

Book one leg at a time. Experienced mileage maximizers caution against trying to book a complex roundtrip premium award upfront. Instead, start by securing the high-value long-haul segment in first or business class first before adding on connections. Once you’ve found and held the key premium cabin segment, call Alaska Mileage Plan to piece together the remaining legs. Their knowledgeable agents excel at constructing complete multi-segment award trips using Alaska and partners.

Consider open-jaw tickets. Book an open-jaw award ticket to Europe, for example, flying into London but back from Paris in premium class. This lets you see more destinations without needing additional miles. Open-jaws maximize your time exploring while enjoying premium comfort travelling between continents. Be sure to map out how you’ll connect the dots between your arrival and departure cities. Budget European low-cost carriers like EasyJet can bridge the gap affordably.

Research aircraft and cabins. When redeeming miles for top-notch experiences in the sky, you’ll want to make sure you are getting the latest and greatest seats and amenities. Alaska's premier partners like Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Emirates fly multiple aircraft types and seat configurations. Peruse reviews, photos and cabin maps for a preview of the exact plane operating your route to avoid surprises. For crucial first impressions, the finest cabins and service shine.

Book suites and pods when possible. Today’s leading airlines now offer new generation first class suites with closing doors for ultimate privacy and seclusion. Emirates even has onboard showers in their A380 suites. These ultra-spacious, apartment-like accommodations take premium flying to new heights. In business class, look for seats that transform into fully lie-flat pods rather than angled lie-flats. Your body will thank you after sleeping in true lie-flat comfort across oceans.

comparison shop programs. Prior to transferring miles, take a look at award rates across airline partners serving your destination. Alaska's niche relationships often lead to lower premium cabin redemption rates than major alliances. For example, first class awards to Asia on Cathay Pacific cost only 10,000 more Alaska miles versus American AAdvantage or British Airways Avios. Run the numbers across a few programs to secure the optimal value.

splurge on longer flights. Since first class awards are typically priced one way based on geographic zones, there's no mileage penalty for covering more ground enroute. Treat yourself to the world's longest routes like Singapore Airlines' Newark to Singapore nonstop aboard the A350-900ULR featuring private cabins. The more hours aloft, the more opportunities to indulge in premium amenities and cuisine. Extend the joy by booking the longest feasible nonstop routing.

Take advantage of stopovers. One of my favorite pro tips for getting maximum mileage out of premium class awards is to add a stopover within the same region. For instance, break up the journey home from Bangkok to Los Angeles with a week's beach vacation in Hawaii. Stopovers prolong your travels without requiring additional miles. A little strategic planning yields huge dividends.

Watch for elite discounts. As you accrue elite status with Alaska, keep in mind the mileage discounts earned on premium cabin awards. Golds save 25% on first class awards, while MVP Gold flyers unlock a hefty 75% first class redemption discount. A little strategic planning to qualify for status before a big redemption makes luxury more affordable.

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