Ultimate Guide to Alaska Airlines Miles: Part 2 - Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

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Recently, Alaska Airlines has been getting a lot of attention and after the scheduled United and Delta devaluations the airline can be considered among one of the best (in my opinion) miles to earn and redeem for both domestic and international trips.

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The normal offer for the Alaska Airlines Visa is 25,000 miles

The normal offer for the Alaska Airlines Visa is 25,000 miles

On top of that, the Alaska Airlines Visa offered a 50,000 mile bonus last month-–making it one of the best card offers available at the time. With the flexibility and valuable award chart, this bonus was one of the best offers of 2013 and hopefully we will see it back in the future.

The 50k offer was the highest bonus I have seen on the Alaska Airlines card and the minimum spend was low at $1,000 within the first 3 months (OFFER EXPIRED). Keep in mind that the card is issued by Bank of America, so it doesn’t take away from other card opportunities from Chase, American Express and Barclays. If you got in on this deal while it was live for a little over a week, you will be quite happy with the 50k miles that comes with it.

Alaska Airlines miles are some of the best miles to accumulate for domestic and international travel. Alaska is not part of either of the major alliances, but it has 14 partner airlines that you can redeem your miles with.

You can redeem your miles on Alaska flights, but also on any of their partner airlines for both domestic and international travel!

With all of the Alaska Airline partner airlines, you have (almost) endless travel opportunities, including almost any international destination you can think of! One of the best perks is that Alaska does not charge fuel surcharges on flights with any partner airline awards except for British Airways.

Alaska Airlines charges some of the lowest fees on partner award flights -- you will only pay $12.50 fee each way or $25 for a round trip.


Alaska's partners

You can fly on any of Alaska's partners!

This makes Alaska miles some of the cheapest miles to redeem to Europe and other international destinations because you don’t pay the extra fees that some airline programs charge. You won’t pay any of these extra fees on flights to Europe if you book flights on Alaska partner airlines Air France, Delta, KLM, etc.

The Ultimate Guide to Alaska Airlines Miles Series Index

Part 1 | Introduction to Alaska Airlines Miles

Part 2 | Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

Part 3 | Understanding The Alaska Airlines Award Charts

Part 4 | Alaska Airlines Award Costs & Fees

Part 5 | Mileage Plan Elite Status

Part 6 | Using The Alaska Airlines Website To Book Awards

Part 7 | Stopovers, Open Jaws And Free One Ways

Part 8 | Best Tips and How to Search for Award Seats

Part 9 | Best Ways to Get To Europe

Part 10 | North America Alaska Airlines Awards (Including Canada, Hawaii, and Mexico)

Part 11 | Best Ways to Get to The Caribbean, Central & South America

Part 12 | Best Ways to Get to Australia, New Zealand, & South Pacific

Part 13 | Best Ways to Get to Japan, North Asia & South Asia

Part 14 | Best Ways to Get to Africa, Middle East, and India

[Disclosure: We don't earn a referral if you apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa, however we may earn one on the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex if you apply using our banner. As always, thanks for the support when you choose to!]

You can use your Alaska Airlines miles to book award travel on Alaska or one of it's 14 partner airlines that include:

Alaska Airlines allows you to book one way awards so you can fly in one direction on one partner airline and return on another.

One rule that limits flexibility is that you can only fly on one partner airline in addition to Alaska Airlines on international awards. You can fly on Alaska and one partner airline per award (round trip or one way.) This means you could fly to Europe on Alaska and Delta OR Alaska and Air France, but not a combination of all three airlines.

But since you can book one ways, you can fly to Europe on Delta and fly back home on Air France. Plus you can add stopovers on one way awards!

The Alaska Airlines award chart has amazing value!

Some of the best priced awards include:

  • One way economy award to South Asia for 30,000 miles
  • One way business class award to South Asia for 50,000 miles
  • A round trip economy award to Europe for 60,000 miles
  • One way business class award to Europe for 45,000 miles
  • One way business class award to Southern South America for 45,000 miles

The quickest way to earn lots of Alaska Airlines miles is through their co-branded credit card with Bank of America. Currently there are two welcome bonus offer available for the Alaska Airlines Visa.

You can also earn Alaska miles by applying for the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX personal and Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX business credit cards and transferring Starwood Hotel points to your Alaska Airlines account. You can transfer SPG points to Alaska miles at a 1:1 ratio and when you do transfer 20,000 Starwood points you get a 5,000 point bonus.

Although there are not as many ways to earn Alaska miles through credit card offers as United or American Airlines miles, you can still rack up a couple hundred thousand points fairly easily. Bank of America is one of the most lenient issuers when it comes to awarding multiple bonuses for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card. There are reports that you can apply multiple times for the 25k card offer -- sometimes up to 5-6 times.


Credit Card

Welcome Offer

Minimum Spending Requirement

Annual Fee

Alaska Airlines Visa (personal)25,000 milesAfter 1st purchase$75
Alaska Airlines Visa (business)25,000 milesAfter 1st purchase$75
Amex Starwood Preferred Guest (personal)25,000 points or 30,000 Alaska miles$5,000 within 3 monthsWaived the 1st year, then $65
Amex Starwood Preferred Guest (business)25,000 points or 30,000 Alaska miles$5,000 within 6 monthsWaived the 1st year, then $65
Total110,000 Alaska Miles$10,000$150 not waived the 1st year

[Note: Offers in chart are expired]

You probably shouldn’t apply for two cards from either Bank of America or American Express at the same time. Although it may be possible to get approved and earn the bonus for the same card simultaneously, you will probably have more luck by spacing out your applications. You could apply for a version of the Alaska Airline Visa and a Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX card at the same time.

Earning Alaska Airline Miles

Alaska Airlines Visa 50,000 Offer

[Update: Offer was live while writing this post, but is now expired.]

Link: Alaska Airlines Visa 50k

The current 50,000 mile welcome bonus for the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa welcome bonus is the highest offer I have seen for this card. You will earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

This is a limited-time targeted offer that meant for Washington state residence. The application page is open to everyone and there have been reports of people getting approved from around the US. The bottomline is that your mileage may vary, so apply at your own risk. This is not an affiliate link so I cannot guarantee the terms and conditions of the offer.

Alaska Airlines Visa 25,000 Offer


Link: Alaska Airlines Visa (personal)

Link: Alaska Airlines Visa (business)

Welcome Offer

The Alaska Airlines Visa (personal) and the Alaska Airlines Visa (business) offer 25,000 miles after your first purchase (OFFER EXPIRED).

This is an easy way to earn 25,000 miles without having to meet a minimum spend requirement, and because there is also a business version of this card, you can earn up to 50,000 miles between both cards and still have no minimum spend.

Note: There is also an Alaska Airlines Visa offer for 25,000 miles after your 1st purchase plus a $100 statement credit after spending $1,000 within 3 months. This offer is supposed to be targeted to people who have purchased an Alaska Airlines flight, but here is a direct link to the application page. If you choose to apply for this offer please take lots of screenshots, and since it is not my link, I can’t confirm the terms. The bottom line is your mileage may vary.

Warning: If you don’t qualify for the Signature Card, Bank of America may issue you the lower Platinum Plus or Preferred card, which offers only 6,000 or 4,000 bonus miles.

Earning Alaska Miles

The Alaska Airlines Visa card gives you 3 miles for every $1 spent with Alaska Airlines. You can also earn up to 5 miles per $1 spent at partner hotels and restaurants, and for everything else you will earn 1 mile per $1 spent.

However, it is not the best card to use for non-Alaska spending because you only earn 1 mile per $1 spent. You can earn more Alaska miles on daily spending using the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest (see below).

With that said, the card could be worth it for some people because of the companion certificate that is offered.

Your miles won’t expire as long as you use your Alaska Visa. In order to prevent your miles from expiring, you have to keep your account active, even if have earned the miles from the bonus and have since canceled your card. If you cancel your card, the miles will expire in 24 months of not earning or using Alaska miles. Another option to keep your account active would be to make a purchase through the Alaska Airline shopping portal.

Earn Even More Alaska Airlines Miles

You can earn 25,000 miles from the Alaska Airlines Visa, but you can earn even more miles from other cards as well.

You can apply for the Starwood Hotel Personal and Starwood Business card and transfer Starwood Hotel points to your Alaska Airlines account.

Starwood Points – 1:1 Transfer to Alaska & 5,000 Transfer Bonus

The transfer rate from Starwood Hotel points to Alaska Airlines miles is 1:1, but if you transfer 20,000 points, then you get a 5,000 bonus. So if you transfer 20,000 SPG points you get 25,000 Alaska miles.

This means 1 Starwood Hotel point can be transferred to 1.25 Alaska miles. This is one of the BEST transfer values of SPG points. Using the Amex SPG cards is also one of the best ways to earn Alaska miles for everyday spending since you are getting 1.25 Alaska miles per dollar spent.

Between these two credit card offers you can earn 55,000 and then continue to potentially earn 1.25 Alaska miles per dollar spent with the Amex SPG cards.

AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest (CARDS NO LONGER OFFERED)

Link: Starwood Preferred Guest (personal)

Link: Starwood Preferred Guest (business)

Welcome Offer

The Starwood Preferred Guest (personal) and the Starwood Preferred Guest (business) offer 25,000 miles after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of card membership.

When you transfer Starwood points to Alaska Airline miles the transfer ratio is 1:1, which is the best ratio among all airline transfer partners. This is better than United’s transfer ratio of 1:1.

Personally, I use my Starwood points on hotel stays or transfer them to airlines which have a transfer ratio of 1:1, but I would transfer to United at a 2:1 ratio.

Earning Alaska Miles

For every $1 spent using the Starwood Preferred Guest card at a SPG hotel or resort, it will earn you 5 Starwood Hotel points. For all other spending, each dollar spent is worth 1 Starwood point.

When you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to any of the 30 airline partners you get get 5,000 bonus points. Plus this means when you use the Starwood Preferred Guest card for everyday spending you will earn 1.25 Alaska miles per dollar spent on everyday spending.

When you use the card at Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) hotels and resorts you can earn 6.25 Alaska miles for every dollar spent. Of course this is taking into account that you transfer Starwood points in 20,000 mile increments to earn the 5,000 bonus points.

This can be an incredibly powerful way to earn Alaska miles if you frequently stay at Starwood hotels and resorts.

Mileage Plan Shopping Portal

Making purchases through the Mileage Plan shopping portal is one of the best ways to earn extra Alaska miles.

If you plan to make any online purchases or department store shopping you can shop through the Mileage Plan shopping portal to earn more miles. You can earn extra miles for purchases that you were already going to buy.

Keep Your Alaska Miles From Expiring by Earning/Redeeming Miles:


The best way to earn Alaska Airlines miles is to through welcome bonuses on the Alaska Airlines Visa cards and Starwood Preferred Guest Amex cards.

The best way to earn Alaska miles from spending is on the Amex Preferred Guest card, and you will get $1.25 per $1 spent.

Alaska miles expire after 24 months if there is no mileage activity within your account. You can easily keep your account active by flying, renting a car, or staying in hotels.

You can earn lots of Alaska miles and go travel!

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Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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