From now till 24 December 2020, 3.59 p.m SGT, Alaska Mileage Plan is offering up to a 50% bonus on miles purchases. This could potentially be useful for some, although the ongoing COVID-19 situation and Alaska’s early 2021 entry into oneworld should give reason to pause.
Each account will be targeted for a different bonus, so you need to login to check what yours is.
My offer maxed out at 40%, but I understand that the best offer this time round is a 50% bonus. Here’s the breakdown of how my bonus tiers (yours may be different):
- Buy 3,000-100,000 miles: 40% bonus (1.96 US cents/mile)
If you were targeted for a 50% bonus, you’ll be paying 1.83 US cents each.
Alaska Mileage Plan no longer imposes a 7.5% tax on mileage purchases, which helps to further lower the price. It’s also worth noting that the Singapore Dollar has been steadily strengthening vis a vis the US Dollar since March (S$1.45= US$1 then, S$1.34=US$1 now), 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 now?
If you were targeted for a 40% bonus, I’d wait it out. We’ve previously seen 50-60% bonuses, which bring down the cost per mile to as low as 1.72 US cents each, and it stands to reason there’ll be another opportunity to buy.
In any case, there aren’t a lot of things you can do with Mileage Plan miles at the moment, unless perhaps you fancy a punt on Singapore-Japan flights reopening. We know that Japan plans to lift its ban on foreign tourists from April 2021, and Japan Airlines still offers good value awards through Mileage Plan (though not as fantastic as before, obviously)
One important thing to highlight is that Alaska will no longer allow Mileage Plan members to book Emirates First Class awards from 1 April 2021 onwards. That may or may not be related to them joining oneworld, but either way it’s no big loss- Emirates First Class awards aren’t worth redeeming with Mileage Plan in the first place.
Here’s some of the best uses of Alaska Mileage Plan miles for someone based in Singapore.
For trips to Japan on JAL
|One-Way Business Class||25,000 miles|
|Price @ 1.83 US cents/mile||~S$615|
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$1.2K.
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
|One-Way Business Class||50,000|
|Price @ 1.83 US cents/mile||~S$1.2K|
|One-Way First Class||70,000|
|Price @ 1.83 US cents/mile||~S$1.7K|
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 I showed in this 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 to buy Alaska Mileage Plan miles?
Purchases of Alaska Mileage Plan miles are processed by Points.com in USD (i.e they do not code as airline 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|
|UOB PRVI Miles|
|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.
While this is probably the last chance to buy Mileage Plan miles with a bonus for 2020, don’t feel obliged to jump on (unless perhaps you need to buy a small amount to keep your balance from expiring).
Alaska loves its Mileage Plan sales, and you can be sure we’ll see another come in January. Hopefully things will have opened up by then, and there’ll be more clarity on Alaska’s oneworld award chart.