From now till 23 May 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, the structure may look something like this:
- 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)
Unfortunately, the 7.5% tax on mileage purchases has been brought back (it was temporarily suspended under the CARES act, which lapsed on 1 Jan 2021), which means that miles purchases this year will be slightly more expensive than those last year.
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 highest we’ve ever seen Alaska Mileage Plan offer, and assuming you were targeted for this, it’s worth considering.
However, it’s also worth noting that Alaska Airlines has just joined oneworld, and it remains to be seen how this will affect their award chart. Alaska won’t roll out oneworld award redemptions until summer, and there could be good or bad surprises waiting then. Also, the timeline for the resumption of international travel is still uncertain, which means you may be holding on to these miles for longer than you’d otherwise be comfortable.
Mileage Plan adopts an activity-based expiry policy where earning or redeeming at least one mile will extend the life of your entire balance by 24 months. However, you’d need to buy a substantial number of miles to enjoy the maximum bonus, so it’s worth seeing if there are cheaper (and more fun) ways of clocking activity.
All that said, 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 all things considered, 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 coded 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.
Some people may run into issues using a Singapore-issued card with Points.com. I can’t quite explain why this happens, but 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 30 April 2021, with travel up to 31 March 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 a tasty offer, but the uncertainty surrounding Alaska’s oneworld entry (not to mention travel in general) is good reason to take things slowly. I can think of a lot of useful ways to redeem Alaska miles, but it all depends on whether the borders start to reopen soon.
I’m sure there’ll be more sales to come in the future though.