Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card review
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Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card Overview
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is effective for the airline’s frequent flyers on account of its benefits, but the card also stands out for its solid sign-up bonus. Cardholders can also hit the ground running with Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ on Alaska Airlines — one of the best deals you can find on an airline rewards card.
This card can be well worth the $75 annual fee, but mostly for those who fly with Alaska Airlines often since the rewards and benefits don’t extend beyond the airline.
What are the pros and cons?
- Alaska Airlines has a limited flight network. While Alaska Airlines is a oneworld Alliance partner, the airline itself has a limited route network. This can make using the companion fare especially difficult depending on where you live.
- Disappointing ongoing rewards. While cardholders do earn 3 miles per dollar spent with the airline, the earning rate for any purchases outside the airline is only 1 mile per dollar spent.
- Requires a prime credit score. For the best approval odds, you’ll need a good to excellent credit score.
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Earn 3 miles per dollar spent with Alaska Airlines and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: Buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) and receive 40,000 bonus miles with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
- Annual fee: $75
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: (See Terms)(variable)
The current welcome offer
This card’s latest limited-time online bonus offer comes in two parts: If you can spend $3,000 with the card in your first 90 days as a cardholder, you can buy one ticket (Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare), get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) and receive 40,000 bonus miles with this offer.
The value of the bonus’ buy one, get one ticket offer – also called the Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare – is quite impressive on its own, and based on The Points Guy’s latest valuations, 40,000 miles could be worth around $720 (based on a 1.8-cent-per-point valuation).
As you compare airline credit cards, you’ll definitely notice that some cards offer bigger sign-up bonuses than others. However, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card bonus offer is very generous considering the high value of these airline miles, as well as the fact you can earn the bonus with a relatively low spending requirement of just $3,000 within 90 days. Some travel cards require you to spend $5,000 or more for such a high bonus.
The rewards rate
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card offers Mileage Plan miles for each dollar you spend, which makes it worth considering if you’re looking for ways to rack up airline miles when you’re not flying very often. However, the earning rate leaves a lot to be desired.
Cardholders earn 3 miles per dollar spent with Alaska Airlines and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. While the rate for airfare is generous and on par with many other airline credit cards, the earning rate for regular purchases is relatively subpar.
Once you start comparing other options, you’ll notice that other airline credit cards offer bonus miles in everyday spending categories, like groceries or dining out.
Alaska Airlines award flights start at just 5,000 miles, which is an excellent point of entry for any frequent flyer program. You can also use your miles to book hotel stays at more than 400,000 locations or to upgrade your seat to First Class. Fortunately, your miles won’t expire for the life of your account. Even if you close your account, though, you can reinstate your miles for a fee for up to one year.
To make your bonus mile redemption experience easier, the airline also features a tool on its website that lets you know how many miles you’ll need for an award flight to different regions the airline services. This frequent flyer tool even shows how you can use Alaska miles for flights with oneworld partners, which reach a wider network of over 1,000 destinations.
While this frequent flyer program has plenty of sweet spots, you should be aware that this card and program are geared to individuals who live on the West Coast or fly Alaska Airlines often. When you look at the airline’s route map, you can quickly see that Alaska Airlines doesn’t even service states like North Dakota, Iowa, Alabama and Arkansas. You could potentially use Alaska miles for flights with partners from these destinations, but your options will be more limited.
How much are rewards worth?
According to The Points Guy’s latest valuation (TPG), Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles are worth up to 1.8 cents each. That’s a fair bit more valuable than many other airlines’ loyalty rewards, including American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Delta SkyMiles and Southwest Rapid Rewards points. However, keep in mind that Alaska Airlines’ travel map may be more niche, so the actual value you’d receive from these miles may not be as valuable if you don’t frequently travel within the airline’s partner network.
Key cardholder perks
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card has some benefits worth noting, including some perks that can help you save big when you fly. Unfortunately, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card doesn’t come with several of the usual airline card benefits like priority boarding or elite qualifying miles.
Famous Companion Fare
Individuals who sign up for this card get access to Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare, which starts at $121 once you pay $99 for the fare and a minimum of $22 in airline taxes and fees. Right now you can buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) and receive 40,000 bonus miles with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
Discounted lounge access
Cardholders of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card qualify for 50 percent off day passes at the Alaska Lounge provided they pay with their credit card.
Discounts on in-flight purchases
Frequent Alaska customers will also love the fact this card gives a 20 percent discount on in-flight purchases.
Free checked bags
Finally, cardholders get a free checked bag on Alaska flights. This benefit also extends to up to six other people on the same itinerary, and the saving is worth approximately $60 per person on a round-trip flight.
Rates and fees
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card charges a $75 annual fee, although it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees if you need to make purchases abroad during your travels. Taking advantage of the Companion Fare and free checked bags benefit at least once a year will more than offset the annual fee, but you can easily recoup it via rewards by spending $116 per month in Alaska Airlines purchases (based on the TPG 1.8 cent mile value).
Unfortunately, there is no intro APR if you’re looking to keep interest at bay on a balance transfer or any upcoming purchases. You’ll face a (See Terms) percent variable APR instead, which can be slightly below the current average credit card interest rate and isn’t out of the ordinary for a premium airline card.
All things considered, fees charged by the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card are standard among airline credit cards. Balance transfers require a 3 percent (minimum $10) balance transfer fee.
How the Alaska Airlines credit card compares to other travel cards
If you’re considering the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card, you should take the time to compare it to other travel credit cards and airline cards before you sign up. The chart below shows how the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card stacks up to cards that offer similar perks and rewards.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card lets you earn rewards for travel with a lot more flexibility. After all, this card lets you redeem your miles to cover any travel purchase charged to your card at a rate of one cent per mile. Meanwhile, you can also transfer your miles to Capital One airline and hotel partners, which include some oneworld partners that offer the same routes you can book with Alaska.
This card also offers a flat earning rate on all your purchases, as well as a generous bonus offer. While you won’t get any frequent flyer benefits, you do get no foreign transaction fees and a fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has one of the best bonus offers among travel credit cards at its price tag right now, and you also get to earn bonus points in a wide range of everyday spending categories. On the redemption end, you can cash in your points for statement credits, gift cards or merchandise. You also get 1.25 cents per point in value when you redeem for travel through Chase, or you can transfer your points to Chase Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio.
Overall, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a better overall rewards rate and points that are much more flexible. However, you don’t get any frequent flyer benefits with specific airlines.
Best cards to pair with this card
If you are considering the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card but hoping to pair it with another rewards card, we suggest pairing it up with a flexible travel credit card, especially if Alaska Airlines is one of the reward program’s transfer partners. That way, you can use your Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card to rack up miles for the flights you want while leaning on your flexible travel credit card to earn points for hotel stays, rental cars and other aspects of your travel plans.
If you pair your Alaska card with another that has different earning categories, that’s even better. For example, you could pair it with the Chase Sapphire Preferred to access better rewards in everyday spending categories and the flexibility of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Alaska Airlines card worth it?
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card can definitely be worth the $75 annual fee, but only if you are in a position to use Alaska miles and the card’s companion fare. If you live in an area not serviced by Alaska Airlines, or if you frequently fly to destinations outside of the airline’s service area, you may want to look at other card options.
Fortunately, there are a great many rewards and travel credit cards to choose from. No matter whether the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card makes sense for your travel needs, you should consider all your options before you decide.