Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the few ways of purchasing miles cheaply to then redeem on partner airlines like Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. This is especially useful for cheaper Business Class redemptions internationally and domestically.
Note: it seems that only those with US, Canadian and Mexican credit cards can purchase Alaska miles. Purchases with Australian credit cards cannot be processed.
Promotions are often run that enable you to purchase miles for cheaper, or get a bonus allocation on top. The latest offer was a 40% bonus in October 2019.
Note that, effective January 2019, Alaska has introduced a new calendar year purchase cap of 150,000 miles, which may begin to limit their use, especially for families looking to travel abroad when multiple award seats are available. Alaska elite members are not affected by this cap.
Remember that Alaska accounts need to be ten days old to be able to buy miles, so sign up for one in advance if you like the look of a deal.
An example of a recent expired Alaska Airlines ‘buy miles’ promotion
With the promotion, you can purchase a total of 84,000 Mileage Plan miles (including the bonus) for US$1,773.75, equating to ~2.11 US cents per mile.
Buy miles offers can be targeted, so you may find your offer may be different from others’. Here are the tiers that I received (which may differ to yours):
- Buy 10,000 – 19,000 miles = 20% bonus
- Buy 20,000 – 29,000 miles = 30% bonus
- Buy 30,000 – 60,000 miles = 40% bonus
You can purchase a total of up to 150,000 miles per calendar year (unless you are an elite member, in which case there is no limit).
However, note that there is a limit of four transactions in 30 days on the same credit card which is applied from points.com who processes the transaction, so use a different card number for more transactions, but with your same Mileage Plan account, and you should be fine.
Also note that buying Alaska miles does not code as travel spend on a credit card and that these miles expire after 24 months of inactivity in your account although with an option to reinstate for a fee.
Example uses of Mileage Plan miles for travellers from Australia
These are my favourite redemption opportunities for cheap Business Class travel from Australia with Mileage Plan redemptions:
|Example itinerary||Cost of miles in USD when maximising current promotion|
|Cathay Pacific: 30,000 miles one-way from Australia to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific Business Class||$633|
|Singapore Airlines: 35,000 one-way for two First Class flights within South East Asia||$738.5|
|Fiji Airways: 45,000 miles one-way from Australia (or New Zealand) to Hawaii in Fiji Airways Business Class||$949.5|
|Qantas: 55,000 miles one-way from Australia to the US in Qantas Business Class||$1160.5|
|Cathay Pacific: 60,000 miles one-way from Australia to the US in Cathay Pacific Business Class||$1266|
|Korean Air: 125,000 miles return (no one-ways) from Australia to the USA in Korean Air Business Class||$2637.5|
- These costs don’t include airline taxes for this route applied by Alaska
- The costs above are in USD and based on the current promotion with a best-case cost at the highest tier
- The costs assume you maximise the promotion and buy chunks of the maximum amount of miles, redeeming strategically to get the most value
For more prices, check out the Mileage Plan award chart.
As many have found on those previous posts (just read the comments), it’s an easy winner to take advantage of for long-haul Business and First Class travel on Alaska Airlines partners such as Cathay Pacific to North America. You can also get great value out of longer intra-Australia or NZ redemptions in Business Class on Qantas.
Keeping an eye on the rhythm of mileage purchase offers can help you be more informed about when to buy.
|Date||Bonus offer (%)||Notes|
|October 2019||50||highest and targeted|
|September 2019||50||highest and targeted|
|July-August 2019||50||highest and targeted|
|June-July 2019||30% discount, not bonus|
|August-October 2018||50||highest and targeted but widespread|
|October 2017||30% discount, not bonus||Point Hacks exclusive offer, limited to first 2000 buyers|
|August-October 2017||50||highest but targeted|
|May-July 2017||50||highest but targeted|
|August 2016||50||highest but targeted|
|May 2016||50||highest but targeted|
|November-December 2015||50||highest but targeted|
Other ways to earn Alaska miles
If you have American Express Membership Rewards points, you can transfer them to Marriott Bonvoy. From there, you can convert your points into Alaska miles. More info on that here.
You can also credit your Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights (amongst others) to Mileage Plan.