Alaska Airlines has launched their first points sale for 2020, with a 40% bonus on miles purchases. This sale runs from now until February 17, 3.59 p.m SGT.
Here’s the breakdown of how my bonus tiers (yours may be different):
- Buy 1,000-4,000 miles= no bonus
- Buy 5,000-19,000 miles= 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000-29,000 miles= 30% bonus
- Buy 30,000-60,000 miles= 40% bonus
Buying miles with a 40% bonus is the equivalent of paying 2.15 US cents per mile, after Alaska’s recent price increase.
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.
Is it 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.
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 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|
|4 mpd||None||Until 29 Feb 2020|
|Citi Rewards Visa|
|4 mpd||S$1,000 per statement period|
|UOB Visa Signature|
|4 mpd||S$2,000 per statement period||Min FCY spend of S$1,000 per statement period|
|DBS Woman’s World Card|
|4 mpd||S$2,000 per calendar month||Use caution- some people report not getting the bonus 2.8 mpd, only the base 1.2 mpd|
|SCB Visa Infinite|
|3 mpd||None||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.
A 40% bonus isn’t the highest that Alaska offers, and if you’re prepared to wait a few months, we’ll almost certainly see a 50% bonus offered down the road.
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.