A complete guide to Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan

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While you might hear the name Alaska Airlines and believe you can only fly this airline to, from or within the state, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, Alaska Air Group offers flights to more than 115 destinations within the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. According to an airline fact sheet, it boasts more flights to more destinations from the West Coast than any other airline.

Also, keep in mind that Alaska has a long list of partner airlines, including those within the oneworld alliance, which lets you earn and redeem miles for travel to more than 800 destinations worldwide.

If you fly from the west coast often or you want to in the future, Alaska Airlines is worth looking into.

What is Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan?

Like other major airlines, Alaska Airlines has its own frequent flyer program—the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. This program lets basic members earn a mile for each mile flown with Alaska Airlines, and you can redeem them for flights starting at just 5,000 miles.

Joining Mileage Plan is free, and you can even climb the ranks of elite status to score benefits like priority boarding, free checked baggage and preferred seating.

How to earn Alaska Airlines miles

Where some airlines make it difficult to rack up miles in their frequent flyer programs, Mileage Plan gives you a plethora of options. Also, note that you can use multiple strategies from this list to boost your mileage balance as much as you can.

Earn miles by flying

Alaska Airlines used to award miles at the straightforward 1 rewards mile per mile flown, but the changes were made to the earning structure for flights after March 31, 2021, that were purchased after Feb. 24, 2021.

Economy fares continue to earn miles at the normal 100 percent rate, yet some adjustments were made for full-fare tickets in first class as well as discounted flights in first class.

Also note that the fare classes themselves also changed on March 31, 2021, which makes it difficult to do a full comparison.

Here’s how flights taken on or after March 31, 2021, will accrue miles with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan:

Also, be aware that you can earn miles with Alaska Airlines when you fly with its partners to more than 800 destinations around the world. You can also redeem your miles to fly with partners, which we’ll cover in more detail below.

Book hotel stays and rental cars

Alaska’s hotel and rental car partners offer another way to earn miles in the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program. You can earn miles while you sleep, although the number of miles you’ll earn per night (or per stay) varies depending on the partner you book with.

When it comes to rental car partners, you get the chance to earn miles per day or per rental period, depending on the partner.

Shop with partners

If you shop online with major retailers, earning miles on your spending is a breeze. First, you can download the Mileage Plan shopping button to your computer desktop and earn miles when you shop with more than 850 retailers including Best Buy, Macy’s and Walmart. Other partners you can earn miles with include 1-800-Flowers, Rover.com, SoFi, Teleflora, Vinesse Wine Clubs, GCI, Diners Club International and Carrs Safeway.

Join the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan dining club

You can also earn miles by joining Alaska Mileage Plan Dining, which is free to sign up for. This program gives you miles each time you dine with a participating restaurant and pay with a linked credit card or debit card. When you sign up, you can even earn 1,000 bonus miles with your first meal.

Sign up for an airline credit card

Finally, don’t forget about the easiest way to earn airline miles with Alaska Airlines. By signing up for the right travel credit card, you can earn miles for each dollar you spend regardless of how often you fly.

Best credit cards for Alaska Airlines

There are a handful of rewards credit cards that let you earn miles that work directly within the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan rewards program. These options also come with frequent flyer perks, including Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles and qualify for Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from just $22) when you spend $2,000 on your card within 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3X miles on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1X miles on everything else
  • $75 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Frequent flyer benefits include a free checked bag and discounts on in-flight purchases and Alaska Lounge day passes

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card is the flagship offering from Alaska Airlines, and it’s easy to see why. This card starts you off with 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) when you spend at least $2,000 within the first 90 days of opening your account. You also get the chance to earn 3 miles for every $1 you spend on Alaska Airlines and partner flight purchases and 1 mile for every $1 you spend on everything else.

Frequent flyer benefits are pretty basic, but they’re still worth noting. You’ll get a free checked bag for you and up to six guests on your itinerary, and you’ll also receive 20 percent off all in-flight purchases and 50 percent off lounge day passes when you pay with your card. The $75 annual fee seems reasonable when you consider all you get in return.

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) when you spend $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3X miles on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1X miles on everything else
  • $50 annual fee for the company and $25 annual fee for each card
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Benefits include a free checked bag as well as discounts on day passes at the Alaska Lounge and Alaska Airlines in-flight purchases

The Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card also offers a generous initial bonus and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare, with a relatively low minimum spending requirement of just $2,000 within 90 days of account opening. You’ll get the same earning rate of 3X miles on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1X miles on everything else, and you’ll get a free checked bag for you and up to six companions on your itinerary.

Other benefits include 50 percent off day passes at the Alaska Lounge and 20 percent back on all Alaska Airlines in-flight purchases. A $50 annual fee for the company is required, yet you’ll also need to pay a separate fee of $25 for each employee card.

How much are Alaska Airlines miles worth?

According to recent valuations from The Points Guy, miles in the Alaska Airline Mileage Plan rewards program are worth approximately 1.8 cents each. This makes them more valuable than miles from competing programs like the American Airlines AAdvantage program, Delta SkyMiles and Southwest Rapid Rewards.

How to redeem Alaska Airlines miles

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan offers some flexibility regarding how you can redeem your earned miles. For example, you can use your miles to book flights to more than 800 destinations with Alaska Airlines or its partners, but you can also cash in your miles for hotel stays at more than 400,000 properties worldwide.

Other redemption options include booking a stopover or using your miles to upgrade to a premium cabin. You can even use your miles to purchase magazine subscriptions or share your miles with someone else.

Best redemption options for your wallet

For the most part, you’ll get the most bang for your buck out of Alaska miles if you redeem them for flights. This airline even offers a handy mileage tool that helps you figure out how many miles you’ll need for the flight you want.

Note that award flights start at just 5,000 miles, which is an exceptional value. Some sweet spots in the award charts include:

  • Fly Cathay Pacific from the mainland U.S. and Alaska to Australia in Business class for 60,000 miles one-way
  • Fly American Airlines from the mainland U.S. and Alaska to Hawaii for 22,500 miles one way (in economy)
  • Fly Alaska Airlines from the mainland U.S. and Alaska to Mexico in economy for as little as 10,000 miles one-way (flights of 1,400 miles or less)
  • Fly American Airlines from the mainland U.S. and Alaska to New Zealand for 40,000 miles one way (in economy)

Redemption options to steer away from

Generally speaking, non-flight options are going to offer the lowest value for your Alaska miles. This includes hotel stays, upgrades and magazine subscriptions.

Alaska Airlines travel partners

Alaska Airlines partners make it possible to earn more miles or redeem your miles in another way. The current list of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan partners is featured below.

Airlines partners

  • American Airlines
  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Condor
  • EL AL Israel Airlines
  • Emirates (until July 31, 2021)
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines

And since Alaska Airlines joined the oneworld alliance on March 31, 2021, even more partners were opened up, including Iberia, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.

Hotel partners

  • Alaska Airlines Hotels
  • Best Western
  • Choice Hotels
  • Coast Hotels
  • InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Rocketmiles
  • Westmark Hotels

Rental car partners

  • Alaska Airlines Car Rental
  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Thrifty

Shopping partners

  • Mileage Plan Shopping
  • Mileage Plan Dining
  • 1-800-Flowers
  • Carrs-Safeway
  • Diners Club International
  • GCI
  • The Opinion Terminal
  • Rover
  • SoFi
  • Teleflora
  • Vinesse Wine Clubs

Alaska Airlines elite status and memberships

Alaska Airlines offers several elite status levels that can make it easier to earn more miles or be more comfortable when you fly. Also, be aware that status members in 2020 automatically had their status extended through the end of 2021 due to COVID-19. Further, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has changed its status requirements to make it easier to earn elite status in the coming year.

Here are a few benefits the airline is offering in order to make elite status qualification easier this year:

  • MVP and MVP Gold—Members can earn 50 percent more Mileage Plan elite-qualifying miles (EQM) for Alaska Airlines flights through June 30, 2021.
  • MVP Gold 75K—Earning MVP Gold 75K and 50,000 bonus miles is now easier with 50 percent bonus EQMs through June 30, 2021.
  • All elite-qualifying miles earned between Jan. 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020 will be rolled over to 2021, which can help you earn elite status faster this year.

The following table shows what you need to earn in 2021 for each tier of elite status in 2022, as well as the main benefits you’ll receive when you get there.

MVP MVP Gold MVP Gold 75K
How to earn it Earn 20,000 eligible miles with Alaska Airlines and partners

 

Fly at least 30 eligible segments with Alaska Airlines and partners

 

**Eligible miles and segments must include at least 2 flights marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines

Earn 40,000 eligible miles with Alaska Airlines and partners

 

Fly at least 60 eligible segments with Alaska Airlines and partners

 

**Must include at least 4 flights marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines

 

Earn 75,000 eligible miles with Alaska Airlines and partners

 

Fly at least 90 eligible segments with Alaska Airlines and partners

 

**Must include at least 6 flights marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines

 

Mileage bonus 50 percent 100 percent 125 percent, plus 50,000 bonus miles when you attain status
Oneworld reciprocal status Ruby Sapphire Emerald
Airport benefits Priority check-in and boarding

Two free checked bags

Preferred seating

$50 off Alaska Lounge membership

Priority check-in and boarding

Two free checked bags

Preferred seating

$100 off Alaska Lounge membership

Standby and waitlist for full flights

Express security line at select airports

Priority check-in and boarding

Two free checked bags

Preferred seating

$150 off Alaska Lounge membership

Standby and waitlist for full flights

Express security line at select airports

Four Alaska Lounge day passes

First and premium class upgrades on Alaska non-qualifying fares 48 hours 72 hours 120 hours
First class upgrades at the time of booking (flights after March 31, 2021) Y, B fares Y, B, H or K fares Y, B, H, K or M
Premium class upgrades at the time of booking (flights after March 31, 2021) Y, B or H fares Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S or N fares All fares except Saver fares
Companion upgrades to first class and premium class Yes Yes
Four one-way first class upgrades Yes Yes
Complimentary premium beverage in main cabin Yes Yes
Complimentary same-day flight changes Yes Yes
Waived ticket fee changes Yes Yes
Elite leave for new parents Yes Yes Yes
Opportunity to nominate someone for MVP status Yes

MVP

MVP status with Alaska Airlines gets you basic benefits like a 50-percent mileage bonus, reciprocal status with the oneworld alliance and the ability to qualify for upgrades. You’ll also qualify for priority check-in and boarding, two free checked bags, preferred seating and $50 off Alaska Lounge membership, among other perks.

MVP Gold

The next tier of status, known as MVP Gold, takes your benefits up a notch. You’ll get the same frequent flyer benefits as MVP offers, except you’ll get $100 off Alaska Lounge membership, standby and waitlist for full flights and access to an express security line at select airports. You’ll also get a 100-percent mileage bonus at this tier.

Important: Alaska Mileage Plus members who fly one million miles on Alaska Airlines are granted MVP Gold status for life.

MVP Gold 75K

MVP Gold 75K status makes it easier to earn miles with a 125-percent mileage bonus plus 50,000 bonus miles when you attain status. You also get added benefits like four Alaska Lounge day passes, the opportunity to nominate another person for MVP status and better access to upgrades. This tier of status also qualifies you for waivers for service charges and ticket change fees.

Alaska Airlines FAQs

How do I sign up for the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan?

Signing up for the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is easy. All you need to do is head to AlaskaAir.com and follow the prompts to join the program. Information you’ll need to enter includes your name, date of birth, gender, phone, email address and physical address.

How many miles do you need for a free flight on Alaska Airlines?

Flights booked with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program start at 5,000 miles.

The bottom line

The Alaska Air Mileage Plan is a viable travel rewards option for frequent domestic and international travelers, and especially those who fly from the West Coast. Additionally, the company offers several great airline credit cards that can help you earn miles faster while being rewarded with frequent flyer perks.

If you plan to fly with Alaska Airlines or one of its partners in the future, there’s no reason to ignore this free program.

The information about the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card and the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson began her career working in the funeral industry, which may make you wonder why she works in personal finance now. Yet, the funeral industry taught the author everything she needs to know about the value of one's money and time. Johnson left the mortuary business a decade ago in order to explore her passion for personal finance and travel the world, and since then, she and her husband have built a debt-free lifestyle that has them on the path to retire very wealthy in their 40s. Holly's love of budgeting also led to the creation of her debt payoff book, “Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love."
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