Alaska Mileage Plan is currently running an offer on buying miles with the opportunity to earn up to 60% bonus miles until September 16. After that, you’ll still be able to earn a bonus rate of up to 50% on purchased miles until September 23, 2023.
Buying miles specutively can be an attractive proposition to unlock luxury award travel, especially if you are already close to a redemption threshold. And the case for buying miles is definitely stronger when a bonus or discount promotion like this one is running.
What’s the deal?
Until September 16, 2023, you can earn a bonus of up to 60% on miles bought through the Alaska Mileage Plan. This is a targeted offer, and the maximum bonus amount you are offered could be lower, as some members are being offered a maximum bonus of 50%.
Log into your Mileage Plan account to see what bonus you have been offered. If you are targeted for the maximum bonus, the promotion is tiered as follows:
- 3,000-19,000 miles – 40% bonus
- 20,000-39,000 miles – 50% bonus
- 40,000-100,000 – 60% bonus
From September 17 to September 23, 2023, you’ll then be able to earn a maximum bonus of between 40 to 50% depending on what offer Alaska Mileage Plan has targeted you with.
Maximum purchase amount
You can purchase a maximum of 150,000 Mileage Plan miles per calendar year, although this limit doesn’t apply to Alaska elites.
If you hold status as one of the following, then there is no upper limit on how many miles you can buy:
- MVP Gold
- MVP Gold 75K
- MVP Gold 100K
Cost per mile
Cost per mile with maximum bonus before tax
It normally costs 2.75 cents per mile to purchase Alaska Mileage Plan miles without a bonus, but with the maximum 60% bonus, the cost per mile effectively drops to 1.85 cents per mile.
What are the Pros and Cons?
- Alaska Mileage Plan still uses a distance-based award chart
- You can add a free stopover on international award tickets
- Use Mileage Plan miles for redemptions on Oneworld airlines and other Alaska partners like Starlux.
- Mileage Plan miles do not expire.
- Award tickets with Cathay Pacific and LATAM can’t be booked online
- Award tickets booked by telephone are subject to a $15 nonrefundable booking fee
- Alaska no longer publishes an interactive award chart, making it harder to compare the cost of award travel
How much is an Alaska Mileage Plan mile worth?
Each Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan mile is worth approximately 1.5 cents each.
On average, each Alaska Mileage Plan mile is worth approximately 1.5 cents each.
Is it worth speculatively buying miles?
I generally advise only to buy points in order to boost your points balance to achieve a specific redemption, but this latest deal is an excellent opportunity to acquire points for a very reasonable price which could, in turn, unlock some pretty compelling award opportunities.
The case for speculatively buying points is definitely stronger when there’s an attractive bonus promotion such as this one, although you’ll want to be certain you are getting value for money when you book an award flight.
Although United MileagePlus miles don’t expire, remember that miles can be devalued with no notice. This is exactly what happened earlier this year and there have been some other recent devaluations in the MileagePlus program’s history.
How many miles do I need for an award flight?
Alaska Mileage Plan offers some great value redemptions with a host of airline partners, which makes the program a really compelling program. That being said, it’s worth noting that like most airline loyalty programs, Alaska sells award flights with dynamic pricing, so the value of your miles can vary.
There is a published award chart that shows the lowest possible price in miles for various redemptions. For example:
- Redemptions start from just 5,000 Mileage Plan miles for an Economy ticket less than 700 miles within the contiguous US, Alaska and Canada.
- An Economy class ticket from the contiguous US, Alaska and Canada to Hawaii could cost as little as 15,000 miles.
- A First Class ticket from the United States to Australia could cost as little as 70,000 miles.
These are the lowest possible price in miles, and the actual cost will depend on the specific route and carrier you choose to fly with, as well as a variety of other factors, including demand and seasonality.
Bear in mind that all international award tickets with a Mileage Plan partner airline are subject to a $12.50 nonrefundable fee each way. You might also face paying a carrier-imposed surcharge if redeeming with some of Alaska’s partners.
For example, British Airways charges between $150 and $1,000 for all awards made through Mileage Plan, while Hainan Airlines charges between $100 and $750. Icelandair also charges a minimum surcharge of $150, but the maximum surcharge tops out at $300.
💡 To work out the value of your points for an award flight, simply divide the cost of the flight in cash by the cost of booking the same flight with points.
cash price ➗ cost in points = cents per point
The result is known as the ‘cents per point’ – a rate above the average represents good value for money, whereas a rate below the average could represent poor value for money.
Mileage Plan no longer offers an interactive award chart
Alaska Airlines used to offer an interactive award chart that allowed you to easily compare the lowest cost in miles required for an award ticket on a specific route and specific partner airline – Unfortunately, the interactive award chart is no more, and you now need to do a flight search to reveal the cost.
Alaska’s free stopover offer on award flights
Alaska Mileage Plan is now one of only a small handful of airline loyalty programs that allow members to book a free stopover on an award flight. Adding a stopover can really boost the value of your points because you are effectively getting the opportunity to explore two destinations for the price of one award redemption.
There are, however, a few things to consider:
- Second, you have to fly on the same partner airline on both flights
- First, a free stopover can only be added to international itineraries
- Third, the stopover is limited to main carrier hubs
- Fourth, the stopover is added to each one-away booking
What other ways are there to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles?
Do Alaska Mileage Plan miles expire?
Unlike many airline and hotel loyalty programs, miles earned through Alaska Mileage Plan do not expire. There’s no inactivity period that might result in you losing your miles, and you won’t ever have to jump through hoops to stop your miles from expiring.
Of course, while your miles might never expire, it’s worth remembering that loyalty programs can always be devalued at a moment’s notice, so it’s not always advisable just to sit on a heap of miles for extended periods of time.
Alaska Airlines will also lock accounts after two years of inactivity, and if this happens, you’ll need to contact Alaska’s customer service team to get your account unlocked.
How does this offer compare to previous promotions?
Alaska Mileage Plan program runs promotions on purchased points fairly regularly. Here’s a quick review of recent Alaska Mileage Plan offers…
Bonus of up to 60%
Bonus of up to 50%
- Until September 16, buy Alaska Mileage Plan miles with a bonus of up to 60%
- This is a targeted promotion and your personalized bonus might be smaller
- Log into your Mileage Plan account to see what bonus you are being offered
- After September 16, you can earn a smaller bonus of up to 50% until September 23.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.