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The Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card is a credit card offered by Alaska Airlines and Bank of America that gives consumers the opportunity to earn Alaska miles on their expenses as well as enjoy perks when traveling with the airline.
While this is a relatively simple airline credit card, the beauty of the miles you earn lie in being able to book flights with Alaska’s partner airlines which include: American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Fiji Airways and more. And while the airline is largely centered around airports on the West Coast, this card has more potential than meets the eye.
Below, Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Alaska Airlines credit card to help you decide if it’s right for your needs.
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Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card review
Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card
Earn unlimited three miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and one mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
60,000 bonus miles after you make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening.
Balance transfer fee
3% of each transaction (minimum $10)
Foreign transaction fees
And if you’re able to meet the spending requirement, you’ll have a minimum of 63,000 miles in your account to get started. So at a modest one cent per point value, that is $630 in value right away. However, many people value Alaska miles much higher than 1 cent apiece, so it’s possible to get significantly more value than $630 depending on how you use your miles.
And what’s more is that you’ll also receive an Alaska Companion Fare™, which is a buy-one-get-one ticket for an Alaska Airlines flight. You’ll receive this each year after paying your $75 annual fee. And when you redeem your pass, you’ll only need to pay $99 for the companion’s fare plus taxes and fees.
Benefits and perks
While there are other airline credit cards available that may offer more benefits, the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card is concise in its value with its great welcome bonus and solid benefits for Alaska flyers. The card offers the following benefits:
- Free checked bag on Alaska Airlines for you and up to six guests on the same reservation
- 20% back on all Alaska Airlines inflight purchases
- 50% off day passes at the Alaska Lounge when you pay with your card
- Receive an Alaska Companion Fare every year
- $0 liability protection
- No foreign transaction fees
While the card isn’t packed with a ton of benefits, the value in the ones included are solid. For example, the free checked bag benefit on one round-trip will save you $60 — almost covering the entire annual fee for the card. And if you travel internationally, you won’t be charged a pesky 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the U.S. And if you desire to visit an Alaska lounge before your flight, your entry is sliced in half from $60 to $30 when you pay with the card.
So in short, the card’s annual fee can be justified quickly just by using the benefits it offers.
Earning miles for spending
As you spend on the card, you’ll earn:
- 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases
- 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
This makes the card simple enough for consumers to know that all non-Alaska purchases will earn 1 mile per dollar, whereas some cards have multiple spending categories.
Select calculated how many points the average American can earn in a year when using their Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.
The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). Here’s what the average consumer would earn using this card:
- Groceries: 5,174 Alaska Airlines miles
- Gas: 2,218 Alaska Airlines miles
- Dining out: 3,675 Alaska Airlines miles
- Travel: 6,732 Alaska Airlines miles (Assuming all travel dollars are spent with Alaska Airlines).
- Utilities: 4,862 Alaska Airlines miles
- General purchases: 3,953 Alaska Airlines miles
With all spending considered, this would net 26,614 Alaska Airlines miles in the first year of card membership, and if you include the 60,000-point welcome bonus, this would yield 86,614 Alaska Airlines miles in just the first year. Over a five-year period, cardholders could potentially earn 193,070 Alaska miles — although the total amount will depend on an individual’s annual spending habits.
Earning Alaska Airlines miles
There are two obvious ways to earn Alaska Airlines miles: spend on the Alaska Airlines card as well as fly on the airline.
However, there are a few more ways you can earn Alaska miles.
First, you can fly with one of their many airline partners, including domestic partners like American Airlines. When you book your flight, be sure to have your miles credited to your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plant loyalty account.
You can also transfer points from other loyalty programs into your Alaska Airlines account, such as Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 ratio. In addition, you can earn an additional 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.
Finally you can earn miles when shopping with select retailers through the Alaska shopping portal, making hotel bookings with Alaska hotel partners and dining with restaurants that are apart of Mileage Plan dining.
Redeeming Alaska Airlines miles
Once you’ve earned the miles you need for a free flight, the exciting part is redeeming them for a (nearly) free flight.
To redeem your Alaska Airlines miles, visit the Alaska Airlines website and log in to your loyalty account. And then start searching for your preferred itinerary, but be sure to select “use miles”.
Additionally, if you’re earning transferable credit cards rewards such as Chase Ultimate Rewards® points or American Express Membership Rewards® points, you can transfer your miles to any Oneworld partner, like British Airways, and redeem them for a flight on Alaska Airlines.
However, the best part of redeeming Alaska miles is you can roughly estimate how much your flight will cost using their award chart. This is rare for domestic airlines as many have shifted to dynamic pricing, which means each flight and seat can cost a different amount based on their supply and demand.
So for example, if you want to book a flight from Los Angeles to Miami in economy, it will cost between 12,500 and 50,000 miles each way. While the range of miles needed is large, it’s still helpful to know how far your miles can take you.
You can get great value when redeeming Alaska Airlines miles for international business and first class flights. For example, you can book a one-way ticket from the U.S. to Asia in first class on Japan Airlines or Cathay Pacific for 70,000 Alaska miles. That flight can easily cost upwards of $7,000 when paid for in cash.
The Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card is a great airline credit card for Alaska flyers. It’s a concise card as it offers a valuable welcome bonus, great spending categories and a modest annual fee. But how does it match up against other similar cards?
Select analyzed two other travel credit cards to see how they match up against the Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card.
Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card vs. Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is another great airline card that earns Delta SkyMiles when its used for purchases. With the card, you’ll earn:
- 2X miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases, U.S. supermarket purchases and restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S.
- 1X mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases
Additionally, you can earn a solid welcome offer bonus of: 70,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 4/13/2022. Terms apply.
The card also comes with helpful benefits for your travels, including: first checked bag free, a $100 Delta travel credit when you spend $10,000 or more in a calendar year, *rental car insurance and 20% off in-flight purchases.
The card has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99 after that. (See rates and fees)
If you’re deciding between these two cards, it really comes down to your home airport, preferred airline and where you’re traveling to. If you live on or near the West Coast, the Alaska Airlines card may be a better fit as Alaska Airlines hubs are all located along the left side of the country. If you live in Atlanta or along the east coast, or travel internationally regularly, the Delta Gold card may suit your needs a bit better.
Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card vs. United℠ Explorer Card
The United℠ Explorer Card is another great pick for an airline credit card as it earns United miles on all eligible purchases for a low annual fee.
As you spend on the card, you’ll earn:
- 2X miles per dollar spent on dining, hotel stays when booked with the hotel and United® purchases
- 1X mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases
And when you’re approved for the card, you’ll be able to earn the welcome bonus, which is: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. these 50,000 miles can be redeemed on United and its airline alliance partners.
The card comes with great perks, including: two United Club one-time passes per year, free first checked bag, a $100 credit to enroll in TSA PreCheck/Global Entry and 25% back on United in-flight purchases.
The card has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, and then $95 thereafter.
Similar to the matchup above, the difference between the two cards comes down to where you live and your flight preferences. If you primarily travel up and down the West Coast, the Alaska Airlines card may be the better card. If you like to travel internationally and live in either the middle or East Coast of the U.S., the United card could be the better option.
Who the Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card is best for
The Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card is a solid choice for anyone who lives on the West Coast, flies at least occasionally with the airline and wants a simple card without a long list of features or spending categories to track. So if you appreciate simplicity while earning valuable airline miles, this card is a great pick.
Additionally, the card is great for someone who enjoys traveling with someone else as it comes with an annual Companion Fare — which is essentially a buy-one-get-one ticket. When you use the Companion Fare, your travel partner will travel for just $121. So if you have an expensive flight coming up you’d like to take with someone, this benefit can be a big money saver.
Lastly, if you have plans to travel internationally, Alaska Airlines has a great award chart for international travel (especially in premium cabins). So if you want the flexibility of earning miles that can be redeemed on other airlines (including American), this card could be a good fit.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.
*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.