Alaska Airlines is offering its miles on sale at a special price through August 9, with even larger discounts for customers who have one of its Visa Signature credit cards. (This is the same credit card that includes a $99 companion fare and just recently added a free checked bag.) The bonus offer increases with the more miles you buy.
Alaska’s miles are generally considered among the more valuable frequent flyer currencies because of flexible routing rules that include stopovers on one-way awards and no fuel surcharges on most partners (except British Airways). I know some people who buy miles even when they’re not on sale.
Customers with a Visa Signature card who are targeted for the higher bonus can benefit from the following offers:
- Buy 10,000 to 19,000 miles: 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000 to 39,000 miles: 30% bonus
- Buy 40,000 miles (max): 40% bonus
Customers without the credit card see the offers top out at a 35% bonus, but I’ll work on the assumption you do have the card. The best price will come when you buy 40,000 miles for $1,100. After adding a 7.5% government tax and the additional 16,000 bonus miles, you’re looking at 56,000 miles for $1,182.50. That’s 2.11 cents per mile.
I’m not feeling compelled to buy at that price — which means I certainly wouldn’t recommend buying if you got targeted with a lower offer that results in a higher price per mile. Why? You can always purchase “Fly & Buy Miles” from Alaska Airlines during the reservation process for as little as 2.15 cents per mile. The current promotion offers just 2% savings and only if you buy 40,000 miles.
UPDATE: Some readers have mentioned offers as high as 50%. I still don’t think a 40% offer is worth buying now, but 50% could make the difference.
Assuming you were going to buy a ticket on Alaska Airlines in the future, and that you don’t have a pressing need for lots of miles, you should feel comfortable waiting. But if you do need lots of miles for a big award, then this promotional offer may make sense. Booking tickets just to purchase miles and then canceling the fare has lead to trouble before. And I can understand that Alaska’s miles are valuable enough that some people would want to purchase them for booking awards on partners even if they don’t have plans to fly on Alaska.