|Update (24/12): Alaska has extended the sale for a further 7 days
This sale offered up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles, and was due to end December 24 3.59 p.m SGT. Alaska has now increased the bonus to a maximum of 50% and extended the end date to December 31 3.59 p.m SGT.
Here’s the breakdown of how my bonus tiers (yours may be different):
- Buy 1,000-9,000 miles= no bonus (2.96 US cents per mile)
- Buy 10,000-19,000 miles= 20% bonus (2.46 US cents per mile)
- Buy 20,000-29,000 miles= 35% bonus (2.19 US cents per mile)
- Buy 30,000-60,000 miles= 50% bonus (1.97 US cents per mile)
Buying miles with a 50% bonus is equivalent to paying 1.97 US cents per mile, the lowest price we see Mileage Plan miles go on sale.
Alaska now caps the maximum miles you can purchase in a year to 150,000. However, since you can redeem Mileage Plan tickets for anyone, there’s nothing stopping you from opening another account to buy more miles. MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan members have no such cap.
If you missed the previous article, I’m copying and pasting my analysis of whether it’s still worth buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles (with slight edits to reflect the recent Aegean nerf), and what card you should use if you decide to do so.
Is it still worth buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles?
For trips to Japan
Most Mileage Plan members in Singapore were probably buying miles for JAL awards to Japan, and why not? Before “The Snap”, a pseudo round-trip Business Class flight from Singapore->Tokyo->Kuala Lumpur would have cost ~S$718 (assuming miles were purchased at a 40% bonus). Sure, you’d have to factor in the price of a positioning flight, but it was still phenomenal value.
Now that the loophole has been closed, the effective cost has doubled to ~S$1.4K. That’s still good (compared to paying full-price for Business Class), but obviously nowhere as good as before.
In that sense, I see some parallels between this and the SCB X Card sign up bonus. The SCB X Card initially launched with a 100,000 miles sign up bonus– far and away the best offer we’ve ever had in Singapore. It turned out being a little too popular, however, and was yanked after just six days. The revised sign up bonus? 60,000 miles.
In the cold light of day, 60,000 miles is still a very good sign up bonus, much more than the competition in Singapore anyway. But would you be willing to accept such an offer, knowing you just missed out on a much better one?
The logical answer is yes. A good deal is a good deal, even if it comes just after a fantastic one. But psychologically speaking, it’s understandable why some may be averse to it, and in the same way, I understand why people might balk at paying 50,000 miles for routing that cost half as much a month ago.
For what it’s worth, I’m personally not in the market to buy Mileage Plan miles right now. The way I see it, would-be Japan travelers have three alternative options:
- Transfer Citibank, SCB or AMEX points to EVA Infinity MileageLands and redeem a round-trip Business Class ticket for 50,000 miles. You’ll have to make a stop in Taipei, and pay about S$386 in taxes and fuel surcharges. The connections also aren’t ideal- you’ll need to stay overnight in Taipei
- Buy Aegean Miles+Bonus miles at a 100% bonus, paying 1.88 SG cents each, redeem a round-trip Business Class ticket for 65,000 miles. There will be fuel surcharges applicable too
- Bite the bullet and pay 94,000 KrisFlyer miles for a round-trip Singapore Airlines ticket (hope that it’s offered on Spontaneous Escapes). On the plus side, there are no fuel surcharges
It’s simply a decision that each individual will have to make for him/herself.
For trips elsewhere
With the JAL one-way trick gone, here’s what I see as the remaining sweet spots in Mileage Plan:
It’s also worth keeping in mind that Alaska Mileage Plan miles can be redeemed on numerous other carriers, some of which may be useful for flying point to point outside of Singapore:
|Cathay Pacific and LATAM awards do not appear on the Mileage Plan website. You’ll need to call up customer service to book them
Remember that Mileage Plan does not pass on fuel surcharges, so that’s another plus point.
Singapore Airlines was recently added as a Mileage Plan redemption partner, but as we showed in our analysis, it really doesn’t make sense to buy Mileage Plan miles for Singapore Airlines travel. You’d be much better acquiring KrisFlyer miles for cheap, then redeeming them for flights.
What card should I use?
If you anyways decide to purchase Alaska Mileage Plan miles, these purchases are processed by Points.com in USD. Here’s the best cards to maximize the miles earned on your purchase:
|OCBC 90N Card
|Until 29 Feb 2020
|Citi Rewards Visa
|S$1,000 per statement period
|UOB Visa Signature
|Min FCY spend of S$1,000 per statement period
|DBS Woman’s World Card
|Use caution- some people report not getting the bonus 2.8 mpd, only the base 1.2 mpd
|SCB Visa Infinite
|Min spend S$2,000 per statement period
|BOC Elite Miles
When it comes to Points.com purchases, some people may run into issues using a Singapore-issued card. I can’t quite explain why this happens, because some don’t encounter any issues, and others never seem to be able to get their transactions through. Your best bet is to use an Alaska Mileage Plan account that is at least 10 days old, and try a different card if your transaction doesn’t go through the first time.
Other important things to note
Alaska charges a US$125 fee for changes or cancellations, regardless of how far away you are from departure. Alaska Mileage Plan miles do not expire so long as you credit or redeem at least one mile every 24 months.
You should not be buying Mileage Plan miles (or any other miles and points currency for that matter) speculatively- always have a confirmed use for them in mind before purchasing.
If you’ve been primarily earning Mileage Plan miles by crediting Singapore Airlines Business Class fares to Mileage Plan, then this could be a good way to top off your account for an award redemption. Otherwise, you’ll have to examine your alternatives carefully and decide if buying Mileage Plan miles still makes sense for you in this new landscape.