Just about every carrier out there nowadays has their own branded credit card, including Alaska. On the Bank of America site you will only see one offer listed, but if you dig a bit deeper on the airline's website you will see they actually have 3 different credit card offers – the Preferred, Platinum Plus, and Visa Signature.
The three cards are similar in many ways. Where they differ is with the rewards, credit limit, annual fee, and signup bonus promotions.
Annual Fee: $75.00 (this is NOT waived for the 1st year)
Rewards: 1 mile per $1, except for purchases from Alaska Airlines which are 3 miles per dollar.
Noteworthy Benefits: Each year on the anniversary of account opening, a discount code for a $99 companion ticket is given (requires purchase of regular priced ticket to redeem), Visa Signature benefits
Promotion: 25k miles when application is approved
Visa Platinum Plus
Annual Fee: $50.00 (this is NOT waived for the 1st year)
Rewards: 1x miles normally, 2x on Alaska Airlines purchases
Noteworthy Benefits: Receive a discount code annually for $50.00
Promotion: 5k miles when app. is approved
Annual Fee: $35.00 (this is NOT waived for the 1st year)
Rewards: 1 mile per $1 on both regular purchases and those from Alaska Airlines
Noteworthy Benefits: None
Promotion: 3k miles when app. is approved
Previously the online Alaska Airlines credit card application did not allow you to specify which card you wanted – instead they issued it based on your credit. So if you had great credit, you would probably be issued the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card whether you want it or not (the drawback is that one does not have a pre-set credit limit).
Fortunately the airline's website now allows for you to apply for each card individual, however the application on Bank of America's website is still only for the Visa Signature version.
So how much are Alaska Airline miles actually worth? This is how much a roundtrip award flight will cost...
If you run the numbers and compare the cash prices versus mileage redemption, you will see they are worth around 1 cent each, but sometimes as much as 2 cents. Is this bad? No, not at all, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily good – the value you get is more or less average.
The airline partners for Alaska Airlines include the following: American, Cathay Pacific, Delta, and Kenmore (which yield similar results when converted).
Should you apply for the Alaska Airlines Credit Card or not?
The Visa Signature seems to almost always run the same ol' 25k mile signup offer – so there is no rush to apply for that reason alone. In fact, for the last couple years when I’ve flown out of their terminal, I have seen them advertising this same bonus offer.
But promotion aside, is this one of the better credit card deals or not when it comes to air travel?
- The main drawback of the Alaska Airlines card is not the Mileage Plan, but rather the lack of other benefits you get with it. Most noticeably, there is no free first bag benefit like you see on many other airline cards nowadays.
- The second pitfall is that while most airline cards give you no annual fee for the first year, this one doesn't give that (so there won't be any period to try it out for free).
Will a universal travel card earn you higher rewards?
When you consider that the Alaska Mileage Plan typically yields a value of 1 cent, maybe up to 2, per mile, it essentially means you are likely only getting between 1-2% rebate on your spending. If that is the case, you might want to consider a general travel rewards card in 2013 because:
- It's possible to get one that gives a full 2% value all the time
- The rewards can be redeemed for any travel purchase, including Alaska Airlines purchases
- You may be able to get more benefits and a bigger bonus
Company History: Alaska Airlines was founded in 1932 as a carrier geared for Alaskan flights to and from the continental US. A good niche given that the state represents 20% of the geographic land mass of our country. At the time there weren't many flights servicing the area, but today most major airlines have routes to this state. Surprisingly, Alaska Airlines’ headquarters are actually near Seattle, Washington. Today, they are partnered with the regional carrier Horizon Airlines (they both have the same parent company).