From now till 1 November 2020, 3.59 p.m SGT, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 60% bonus on miles purchases. Each account will be targeted for a different bonus, so you need to login to check what yours is.
My offer maxed out at 50%, but I understand from OMAAT that the best offer floating out there this time round is a 60% bonus.
Here’s the breakdown of how my targeted bonus tiers:
- Buy 3,000-29,000 miles: 40% bonus (1.96 US cents/mile)
- Buy 30,000-100,000 miles: 50% bonus (1.83 US cents/mile)
Alaska Mileage Plan no longer imposes a 7.5% tax on mileage purchases, which helps to further lower the price. During the last 60% bonus (in June), the exchange rate was roughly US$1=S$1.40. It’s currently US$1=S$1.36, which should result in further savings for us in Singapore.
Mileage Plan members can buy a maximum of 100,000 miles (pre-bonus) per transaction, and a maximum of 150,000 miles (also pre-bonus) per year.
However, since Mileage Plan tickets can be redeemed 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?
A 60% bonus would be the largest we’ve ever seen from Alaska, matching the April and June sales. If you were targeted for this, you’d be paying 1.72 US cents per mile- a very tempting price indeed, given historical trends.
My offer of 50% represents a slightly higher price of 1.83 US cents per mile. It’s still good, but not do-or-die stuff given I’m sure we’ll see it return in the future.
The bigger question is: with the government’s advisory against overseas travel remaining firmly in place, when will we fly again? There’s little chance of seeing leisure travel in 2020 (except maybe the Maldives?). However, the hope is that these restrictions will start loosening next year, and Japan for instance has announced a plan to lift its ban on foreign tourists from April 2021.
Of course, a lot of things can happen between now and then, so only buy miles if you have a definite use in mind. Here’s some of the best uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles for someone based in Singapore.
For trips to Japan on JAL
It’s no longer the amazing sweet spot that it was before, but in the cold light of day, paying 25,000 miles for a one-way Business Class ticket to Japan is still good value. With a price of 1.83 US cents per mile, a round-trip itinerary would cost ~S$1,247.
Award space tends to be generous, and it’s not uncommon to find dates with 4+ Business Class seats available.
For trips to the USA on Cathay Pacific
Alaska Mileage Plan charges just 50,000/70,000 miles for a one-way Business/First Class award between Singapore and the USA on Cathay Pacific.
Alternatively, you can fly between Singapore and Tokyo for 22,500 miles on Cathay Pacific. Unlike the Japan Airlines option above, however, you’ll have to do a stopover in Hong Kong.
Note that Cathay Pacific awards cannot be booked on the Mileage Plan site. You’ll have to call up customer service to get it processed.
For trips elsewhere
Alaska Mileage Plan has a wide variety of partner airlines, some of which may be useful for flying point to point outside of Singapore:
Other sweet spots you can consider include:
There are no fuel surcharges on Mileage Plan awards, except on British Airways, Hainan Airlines, and Icelandair.
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?
Purchases of Alaska Mileage Plan miles are processed by Points.com in USD (i.e they are not seen as travel purchases). Here’s the best cards to maximize the miles earned on your purchase:
|4 mpd||Cap of S$1K per s. month|
|UOB Visa Signature|
|4 mpd||Min S$1K Max S$2K FCY spend per s. month|
|SCB Visa Infinite||3 mpd||Min spend S$2K per s. month|
|S. Month= Statement Month | C. Month= Calendar Month|
I personally don’t recommending the DBS Woman’s World Card for Points.com purchases, as many people have reported issues with getting the bonus points credited.
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
Due to the current coronavirus outbreak, Alaska Mileage Plan is waiving all change and cancellation fees for award tickets issued up till 31 December 2020, for travel up till 30 November 2021. This replaces the usual US$125 fee.
Alaska Mileage Plan miles do not expire so long as you credit or redeem at least one mile every 24 months.
If you were targeted for a 60% bonus, you’ve got some thinking to do. It’s indeed a fantastic price for Mileage Plan miles, but the question is when we’ll be able to travel again.
A 50% bonus might make sense for account top-ups, but I have a feeling we’ll see it return in the near future.