From now till 15 February 2021, 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.
If you were targeted for a 60% bonus, here’s how it will tier:
- Buy 3,000-39,000 miles: 40% bonus (2.11 US cents/mile)
- Buy 40,000-100,000 miles: 60% bonus (1.85 US cents/mile)
Unlike previous sales, Alaska Mileage Plan is once again charging the 7.5% tax on mileage purchases (it was temporarily suspended under the CARES act, which lapsed on 1 Jan 2021). This means that miles purchased with a 60% bonus now actually cost more than miles purchased with a 50% bonus previously.
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. MVP, MVP Gold, and MVP Gold 75K members have no such cap.
However, since Mileage Plan tickets can be redeemed for anyone, there’s nothing stopping a family member from opening another account to buy miles and redeem them on your behalf.
Is it worth buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles?
A 60% bonus is the largest we’ve ever seen from Alaska, but thanks to the reintroduction of the 7.5% tax, the price of 1.85 US cents/ mile is slightly less attractive than the 1.72 US cents/ mile you’d have paid under a previous 60% bonus sale.
I’m hoping that the vaccine rollout in Singapore will encourage other countries to open their borders to us later this year, but of course nothing’s guaranteed. The other piece of the puzzle is Alaska’s impending entry into the oneworld alliance, scheduled to happen on 31 March 2021. It’s unclear how this will change their award charts, award rules and redemption partners, so there’s good reason to be cautious.
During “normal” times, here’s the routings I’d recommend with Alaska Mileage Plan.
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.
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 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?
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|
|3 mpd||Cap at S$1K till 31 Jan 2021|
|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 March 2021, with travel up to 28 February 2022. 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.
A 60% bonus is the largest we’ve ever seen, but it’s wise to tread carefully because of the uncertainty surrounding travel in general, as well as what Alaska Mileage Plan will look like post oneworld entry.
If you plan to buy miles, it’ll be ideal if you redeem (and fly) as soon as possible.