Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card review: Impressive rewards for frequent business travelers

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Snapshot

3.6

Bankrate rating
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Bottom line

A low annual fee, top-of-the-line airline perks, and a fast track to elite status make the Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card a top contender for business travelers. But the lackluster rewards rate on non-travel purchases may turn away many small-business owners.

Bank of America Image

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card

Rewards rate

1X–3X

Annual fee

$50 for the company and $25 per card

Intro offer

40,000 miles

Regular APR

18.99% - 26.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent  (740 - 850)

 What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • While it’s not free, the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare perk is easier to obtain than the companion fares you’ll find on many competing cards. You won’t need to wait as long to earn it and you won’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get it.
  • Free checked bag on Alaska Airlines flights for up to seven people
  • Fast track to elite status: Frequent flyers will have an easier time racking up the miles needed to qualify for elite status and earning additional benefits like preferred seating and priority boarding.
  • 50 percent off day passes to the Alaska Lounge and 20 percent off Alaska Airlines in-flight purchases

Cons

  • Limited rewards earning potential: You’ll only earn more than 1X points on Alaska Airlines purchases.
  • Limited business perks and earning potential on business expenses: Other business credit cards reward a wide variety of business expenses and provide free employee cards.
  • Miles are non-transferable to other accounts
  • Requires excellent credit. The majority of airline credit cards and most general travel credit cards are available to people with good credit, not just excellent credit.

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: 3X miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare(TM) from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) with this offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.
  • Annual fee: $50 for the company and $25 per card
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 18.99 to 26.99 percent (variable)

Current welcome offer

New Alaska Airlines Business cardholders can earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in their first 90 days. If you meet the spending requirements, you’ll also get the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare for just $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22). The Companion Fare gives you one round-trip coach ticket when you travel with another person on a paid published coach airfare on the same itinerary, booked at the same time.

Based on Bankrate’s latest points and miles valuations, Alaska Airlines miles are worth an average of 1.1 cents per point. So the Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card’s intro offer is worth around $440 by our estimates. Plus, the $2,000 spending requirement shouldn’t be an issue if you’re a frequent traveler.

The card previously offered 70,000 bonus miles and the Companion Fare after a $4,000 spend in the first 90 days. The current offer much less impressive since its half the previous offer, but it still comes with the Companion Fare. Most airline credit cards that offer airline companion passes make it harder to get this perk in your first year. For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card makes you wait until your first anniversary — after you’ve paid your $550 annual fee — before you can get the companion certificate. And other cards with low annual fees, like the British Airways Visa Signature® Card*, won’t hand over a companion certificate until you’ve reached a much higher spending requirement ($30,000 for the British Airways card).

Rewards rate

When it comes to earning rewards, the Alaska Airlines Business card’s rewards program is far from impressive. That’s because, like many airline credit cards, the Alaska Airlines Business card only offers an elevated rewards rate on purchases made with the airline.

As a cardmember, you’re automatically enrolled in Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, the airline’s loyalty program. This has typically been considered one of the best airline loyalty programs around. But due to recent changes, including switching from fixed- to dynamic-rewards pricing and increasing the number of miles needed for certain seats, some experts are falling out of love with the program.

Still, business travelers can find plenty to like about the airline’s flexible redemption options. This includes a number of transfer partners and chances to get more value when using your miles for travel. Alaska Airlines fans who use the airline often will also enjoy numerous perks, including a chance to reach elite status quickly, unlocking a variety of new benefits.

Earning rewards

The Alaska Airlines Business Visa Card earns 3X miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1X mile on all other purchases. There are no limits to how many miles you can earn.

It’s not unusual for an airline credit card in this price range to only offer bonus rewards on purchases made with the airline, but some cards offer more flexibility. For example, while the United℠ Business Card earns just 2X miles on United purchases, it also earns 2X miles on common business expenses like office supplies, gas station purchases, transit and restaurant purchases. This gives the United card more value since most businesses have expenses that fall outside the airport and can benefit from a travel card that rewards purchases in non-travel-related areas.

As a Mileage Plan member, cardholders also qualify for additional ways to earn miles, including through car rentals and shopping at select retailers. For example, most of Alaska’s car rental options will earn 50 miles per day for a rental. Plus, when you enroll in Mileage Plan Dining, you can earn miles at eligible restaurants. Depending on how much you participate in the program, you can earn up to 5 miles for every dollar.

Perks like these are nice and can be found in numerous airline cards of the same level. But they don’t provide the best value. For example, if you carry the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card, you automatically earn 2X points on car rentals when booked with the company’s car rental partners as well as a number of other business-related categories (compared to only 1X miles with Alaska’s business card).

Redeeming rewards

The Alaska Airlines Business card is a bit more flexible when it comes to redemptions. The airline will let you redeem your rewards at Alaska Airlines for award travel, upgrades and hotel accommodations (when you book your hotel through the Alaska Airlines Hotels program, you’ll get access to discounted redemption levels).

Plus, Alaska Airlines’ partnership with Oneworld Alliance means you can also redeem your rewards for flights through two dozen of Alaska Airlines’ worldwide airline partners (including American Airlines, British Airways, Emirates and more).

Currently, with the right transfer partner, Alaska Mileage Plan miles are worth an estimated 1.1 cents apiece according to our valuations. That’s not bad, though some cards could get you slightly better value. For example, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, a general-purpose business credit card for travelers, earns points currently worth an estimated 2 cents apiece on average, according to our valuations.

Other cardholder perks

Frequent flyers will appreciate the chance to earn points with their Alaska Airlines Business card, but the main reason to carry the card is most likely the additional perks beyond the rewards program. Here’s a look at the benefits that help make the Alaska Airlines Business card worth consideration.

Companion fare pricing

Alaska Airlines doesn’t just give you a Companion Fare as a welcome offer. Each year on the anniversary of opening your account, you can also get a Companion Fare starting at $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22). There are also no blackout dates, meaning you and your companion can travel whenever you’d like.

Free checked bags on Alaska Airlines flights

Checked bags are free whenever you fly Alaska, so you’ll avoid the typical $30 fee per bag.

This perk is good for the cardholder and up to six others on the same reservation. This benefit alone could be worth more than $400 for a cardholder traveling with a group of six people with two bags each.

Fast track to elite status

Alaska’s Mileage Plan offers up a number of incentives to help keep frequent flyers happy. With the Alaska Airlines Visa Business credit card, the more miles and segments you fly with the airline, the faster you can reach elite status.

Elite status comes in four tiers:

  • MVP: Requires 20,000 eligible miles and 30 eligible segments
  • MVP Gold: Requires 40,000 eligible miles and 60 eligible segments
  • MVP Gold 75K: Requires 75,000 eligible miles and 90 eligible segments
  • MVP Gold 100K: Requires 100,000 eligible miles and 140 eligible segments

At each level, you’ll also need to fly a number of qualifying flights marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines. But once you do, you’ll unlock new perks, including:

  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Additional free checked bags
  • Preferred seating
  • Complimentary same-day flight changes
  • Companion upgrades

This is impressive, but some business travelers may prefer a simpler path to elite status, such as the one offered by American Airlines’ frequent flyer program — American AAdvantage. It also comes with an elite status program that can provide a number of perks and upgrades to make travel more comfortable and convenient, but the airline has streamlined its process so that members only need to track loyalty points (one redeemable AAdvantage mile is worth one loyalty point).

Lounge access discounts

You’ll also enjoy 50 percent off day passes at the Alaska Lounge and 20 percent back on all eligible Alaska Airlines inflight purchases when you pay with your Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card. The lounge access is a nice perk if you can take advantage of it, but currently, Alaska Airlines only has eight lounges — seven on the west coast and one in New York at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Exclusive access

You’ll get exclusive access to discounted redemption levels when you redeem miles for hotel stays at over 400,000 properties using Alaska Airlines Hotels.

Rates and fees

The Alaska Airlines Visa Business card carries a 18.99 to 26.99 percent variable APR, based on your creditworthiness. This is fairly typical for most credit cards, with the low-end rate close to the national average credit card APR. There are no foreign transaction fees, which is helpful when traveling abroad or making purchases with foreign merchants.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card has an annual fee of $50, which is not bad considering all the perks. Unfortunately, though, you’ll have to pay $25 per extra card. Offering free employee cards is a standout perk that you can find with a number of business credit cards, including Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card and the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card. Both cards come with no annual fee and numerous business and travel perks that will appeal to small-business owners looking for more versatility with their business cards.

How the Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card compares to other business credit cards

All good business credit cards offer rewards, sign-up incentives and generous benefits. This chart shows how the Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card stacks up against two popular business travel card options — the United℠ Business Card and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. One is an airline credit card for small-business owners, and the other is a general-purpose business card. Both stand out because they have versatile rewards programs and benefits that many businesses will find appealing.

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Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card

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3.6

Annual fee

$50 for the company and $25 per card

Intro offer

40,000 miles

Rewards rate

1X–3X

Recommended credit

Excellent(740 - 850)
Chase Image

United℠ Business Card

Annual fee

$0 Intro for the First Year. $99 After

Intro offer

75,000 Bonus Miles

Rewards rate

1X–2X

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
Chase Image

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Annual fee

$95

Intro offer

100,000 points

Rewards rate

1X–3X

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card vs. United℠ Business Card

The United℠ Business Card has a lot going for it, offering up far more perks that will appeal to a wider business audience. Standout features that top Alaska’s business card include a $0 intro annual fee the first year (then $99), free employee cards and a broader rewards program.

Compared to Alaska’s 3X miles on purchases made with the airline, the United Business card only earns 2X miles on purchases at United. But small-business owners have plenty of chances to earn even more bonus rewards: With the right transfer partner, United’s welcome offer tops Alaska Airlines’ offer. Alaska’s Mileage Plan miles and United’s MileagePlus miles are both worth 1.1 cents, according to Bankrate’s latest valuations. Based on those numbers, Alaska’s welcome offer would be worth $440. United’s sign-up bonus (75,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months of account opening) would come in at $825.

The United Business card also earns 2X miles in a number of other areas, including gas, restaurants, office supply stores, transit and commuting. Businesses with expenses in these areas can quickly rack up more miles per dollar spent than they would focusing only on airline purchases.

United also offers a chance to earn a travel credit each year, an anniversary bonus if you own a personal Chase United card, 25 percent off United inflight purchases and priority boarding. With Alaska, you won’t get priority boarding until you hit elite status.

Despite all the wider appeal to businesses, Alaska holds its own against the United Business card. If you can take full advantage of the limited number of Alaska Lounges, the 50-percent discount on day passes is a greater value than United’s one-time lounge pass to the United Club for two people each year.

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card vs. Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is a general-purpose business credit card that tries to give more value to small-business owners compared to the standard airline credit card. It offers 3X points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories (including shipping, internet and advertising done through social media and search engines). All other purchases earn 1X points.

The Ink Business Preferred’s rewards program is the big selling point — and not just because it lets you rack up high bonus points across multiple categories. Your points increase in value by 25 percent when you redeem for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. That means your points will at least be worth 1.25 cents, though the right transfer partner could get as much as 2 cents per mile, based on our valuations.

That means the Ink Business Preferred’s sign-up bonus (100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening) could be worth an impressive $2,000 (compared to Alaska’s $440).

When you add up the potential short-term value gained through the sign-up bonus and the potential long-term value you get with a broad rewards program, the Ink Business Preferred comes out far ahead of Alaska’s Business card. Those rewards and numerous other perks will go a long way to make up for many of the airline perks you won’t get with the Ink Business Preferred. This includes free checked bags and annual companion fare, which are only good with Alaska flights. But with the Ink Business Preferred, you can redeem your points in a variety of more ways — including travel perks with a variety of different airlines.

Best cards to pair Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card with

Since the Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card is an airline credit card, it will pair nicely with a cobranded hotel credit card. This has the potential to give travelers access to both airline and hotel perks that can’t be found with traditional credit cards.

Two solid standouts are the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card. Both cards offer a free night certificate each year on your anniversary and access to the hotel’s elite status, which unlocks even more benefits for travelers loyal to the hotel.

Marriott points can also be transferred to Alaska Airlines at a 3:1 ratio. Marriott even adds 5,000 miles for every 60,000 points you transfer to airline miles.

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card worth it?

For businesses with significant airfare expenses that travel with Alaska Airlines often, this card may be worth it. The annual fee is reasonable, and the companion fare is generous. Still, a general travel credit card for businesses may offer a better value if it comes with a larger rewards program and free employee cards.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card , please click here.

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