/Last Chance: Score Incredible Awards for Cheap by Buying Alaska Miles at Best-Ever Rate

Last Chance: Score Incredible Awards for Cheap by Buying Alaska Miles at Best-Ever Rate

Alaska Mileage Plan miles are some of the highest-valued airline miles in TPG’s valuations. And that’s not just because of the sweet spots you can get on Alaska flights. Alaska also has partnerships with a number of highly useful international airlines and features reasonable award rates on many with free stopovers even on one-way flights. This means smart mileage collectors can score some incredible redemptions.

The trouble is, there aren’t many great ways of racking up Alaska miles. You can score a best-ever 40,000-mile bonus — plus the “Famous Companion Fare” from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22)— by signing up for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card and making $2,000 in purchases within 90 days. Or, you can transfer Marriott points to Alaska at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus for transferring 60,000 Marriott points.

But, there’s a much easier way to rack up miles for cheap: Alaska Mileage Plan periodically puts its miles on sale, allowing you to top up — or stock up. For the last month, Alaska has been offering its best-ever 50% bonus when buying at least 40,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles. But, this bonus ends 11:59pm PT on May 19, so you don’t have much time left to take advantage of this offer.

Here’s how this particular deal breaks down:

Buy or Gift Bonus
Buy 1,000 — 9,000 miles No bonus miles
Buy 10,000 — 19,000 miles 20% bonus miles
Buy 20,000 — 39,000 miles 35% bonus miles
Buy 40,000 — 60,000 miles 50% bonus miles

Even though TPG values Alaska miles at 1.8 cents apiece, and this promotion only brings the cost down to 1.97 cents per mile with the maximum 50% bonus, taking advantage of this promotion is still a great deal in some cases. A combination of Alaska’s excellent business/first-class award rates, and this modest purchase price means that this is a deal definitely worth considering if you’re a premium-cabin traveler.

Let’s take a look at what you can do with this bonus offer.

One-way to Asia in Cathay Pacific’s top-notch business class for 50,000 miles
Cost: $1,123 (with 1,300 miles left over) or $985 at the maximized 1.97 cents per mile rate

One-way to Japan in American Airlines’ retrofitted 777-200 business class for 60,000 miles
Cost: $1,183 for buying exactly 60,000 miles at the maximized 1.97 cents per mile rate

One-way to Korea in American Airlines’ 787-9 business class for 60,000 miles
Cost: $1,183 for buying exactly 60,000 miles at the maximized 1.97 cents per mile rate

One-way to Asia in Cathay Pacific first class for 70,000 miles
Cost: $1,389 (with 500 miles left over) or $1,380 at the maximized 1.97 cents per mile rate

Cathay First Class on a 777-300ER. (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)
Cathay First Class on a 777-300ER. (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

One-way to Asia in Japan Airlines first class for 70,000 miles
Cost: $1,389 (with 500 miles left over) or $1,380 at the maximized 1.97 cents per mile rate

Those are some incredible options at rates that are just fractions of the revenue cost for these flights. Even better, Alaska awards allow a free stopover on a one-way booking, so you can use these redemptions to see a few different destinations as part of one award.

For example, I flew business class on Cathay Pacific’s Washington DC (IAD) to Hong Kong (HKG) flight with Alaska miles. The 16-hour nonstop flight costs just 50,000 miles one-way in business class. But it gets even better. After stopping over in Hong Kong for two weeks, I continued onto Singapore (SIN) in business class on Cathay Pacific for no extra cost in order to catch the world’s longest flight home.

Alaska Mileage Plan hasn’t had a cap on the number of Alaska miles you can buy per year. However, starting with this promotion, there’s a new cap of 150,000 purchased miles per calendar year for Alaska non-elites. MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan member accounts will continue to have no annual limit on the number of miles purchased or gifted.

Your purchase will be processed by Points.com — not Alaska. So, you won’t earn bonus rewards for using a card with airline spending as a bonus category. The one notable exception for this is the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, which earned 3x Ultimate Rewards points when we tested an Alaska mileage purchase processed through Points.com. That’s a 6% return on the purchase based on TPG valuations of Ultimate Rewards points.

Otherwise, you should use a card that offers a solid return on non-bonus spend, such as The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express, the Chase Freedom Unlimited, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.


This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about Alaska Airlines’ “buy miles” promotions, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for the latest offer. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older deals below.