Mileage Plan is the frequent flyer program of Alaska Airlines, and a great way of getting discounted business/first class flights if you know how to use it properly.
From now till 3 July 2018, Mileage Plan is running a sale which allows you to buy miles at up to a 50% bonus. The size of the bonus you get depends on your account- my account was targeted for a 40% bonus but I’m reading on One Mile at a Time that there are others receiving up to 50%.
I don’t have the details on how the 50% bonus is tiered, but for me, here’s how my 40% bonus looks like:
- Buy 10,000-19,000 miles: 20% bonus (2.46 US cents each including tax)
- Buy 20,000-29,000 miles: 30% bonus (2.27 US cents each including tax)
- Buy 30,000 miles or more: 40% bonus (2.11 US cents each including tax)
If you were targeted for a 50% discount, you’d be buying miles at 1.97 US cents each.
The maximum miles you can buy in a single transaction is 60,000 (before bonus), but there is no limit on the number of miles you can buy in a year so you can make multiple transactions if need be.
Should I buy Mileage Plan miles at a 40% discount?
40% is the highest publicly available offer that Mileage Plan miles go on sale. As you can see in this sale, certain lucky individuals are sometimes targeted for 50% bonuses but that has yet to happen to me. As with all mile sales, my advice is not to buy speculatively, but to first identify that the award space that you want is available, then buy and book.
Remember that SPG is running a sale until 31 May 2018 where you can buy Starpoints at 35% off, or 2.275 US cents each. Why do I bring this up? Because you can convert SPG points into Mileage Plan miles at a rate of 1:1, with a 5,000 bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. That’s to say, assuming you bought and transferred 20,000 SPG points to 25,000 Mileage Plan miles, you’d be buying Mileage Plan miles at the equivalent of 1.82 US cents per mile.
However, you’re limited to buying a maxmium 30,000 SPG points per year, so if you’ve exhausted that avenue, then buying Mileage Plan miles outright is your next best option (you could also credit your SQ flights to Mileage Plan, but won’t work if you’re trying to requalify for elite status with Krisflyer).
Moreover, I’m still keeping my SPG points dry in anticipation of how their categories will change from 1 August 2018, which if my calculations are right will mean that SPG’s uberluxe top tier properties will have their prices brought down.
What do I do with them?
Mileage Plan’s key strength is the sheer variety of options you have for premium cabin redemptions.
Remember that for a mere 25,000 Mileage Plan Miles you can do a “round trip” journey from Singapore to Tokyo in business class (“round trip” because you’ll finish in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok), which works out to US$528 if you buy miles at 2.11 US cents each. There’ll be a further ~US$60 of taxes on top of that, but you’re still looking at a sub US$600 “round trip” business class journey, which is excellent value in my books.
You can also redeem great value Cathay Pacific awards at 50,000/70,000 Mileage Plan miles each way for business/first class from Singapore to North America. Or you could do Hong Kong to Europe at 42,500/70,000 miles each way for business/first class. There was some confusion about this previously, so to be clear: if you want to route Singapore to Europe on CX, you’ll need to buy a separate Singapore to Hong Kong award. On the other hand, you can route Singapore to Hong Kong to North America as a single award.
Note that you cannot book Cathay Pacific awards online and will need to call up Mileage Plan customer service to get this done. You should be able to use the British Airways award search engine to check what space is available on CX business and first before calling up Mileage Plan- have a read of that tutorial here.
You could redeem Hainan Airlines business class awards to the USA at 50,000 Mileage Plan miles in business class (but you’d need to position yourself to Bangkok first because they don’t serve Singapore).
You could redeem Korean Airlines business class awards from Singapore to the USA at 120,000 miles round trip (one-ways are not allowed)
Other important things to note
Mileage Plan recently tweaked its change/cancellation fees, and it now costs US$125 per change/cancellation regardless of how far you are from departure.
What card should I use?
Alaska Mileage Plan purchases are processed by Points.com, so you could use
- UOB Visa Signature for 4 mpd, assuming you spend at least S$1,000 on foreign currency transactions in the current statement period
- Citibank Rewards card for 4 mpd (either Visa or Mastercard will work), assuming you’re within your S$12,000 annual cap threshold
- DBS Woman’s World card for 4 mpd (first S$2,000 of online spending each month)
With regards to the Woman’s World, there’s recently been some confusion as to whether 10X is indeed awarded. My understanding now is that 10X does not credit automatically, and you’ll have to submit an appeal to customer service to get the bonus points. This happened to me before some time back, and it’s happening to others more recently. Appeals have so far been successful.
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