As someone who has worked with publications like The Points Guy, Investopedia, and Forbes, I’ve learned quite a bit about credit cards and travel rewards. I love planning vacations using free miles—and I especially like highly rewarding miles programs that are easy to use.
That’s why I appreciate the straightforward (and lucrative) rewards of the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card. Alaska’s award-winning customer service and recently-upgraded benefits make this card so much more than just your standard travel rewards card.
Plus, you don't have to spend your life in the sky or on the road to fully reap the rewards. Even if you just travel a couple of times a year, benefits like Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ opens up a lot of travel opportunities to spend more time making memories with your friends and family.
For a limited time, when you sign up for the card you can earn 40,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from $23), after spending $3,000 or more in purchases with the card within the first 90 days. This bonus is one of the best deals the travel program offers.
The 40,000 bonus is nearly enough miles for one round trip ticket from Seattle to Maui. With some advanced planning and flexibility, you might even get TWO tickets.
The miles become even more valuable when you consider Alaska Airlines transfer partners. You can redeem your miles with several transfer partners, which isn't something you can always do with other co-branded cards. Often, if you don't plan to fly with the airline for a while, you'll have to redeem your miles for something else—usually less valuable. With Alaska, you can redeem your miles for more than 1,000 destinations with Alaska’s oneworld Alliance partners such as American Airlines, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways, etc.
Travel + Leisure says Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan “is often highly regarded by both industry pros and the frequent fliers who belong to it.” It is also ranked as the Best Airline Rewards Program by US News & World Report.
Cardmembers get one Alaska Airlines Famous Companion Fare™ each account anniversary after spending $6,000 or more on purchases within the prior anniversary year ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23).
This companion fare is more flexible than other similar rewards programs. It can be one-way or roundtrip, and you don't have to actually fly to use it (you need to be the person buying the ticket). Imagine flying your parents to visit their grandchildren, or bringing your best friends from high school to you for a reunion.
Since the companion fare can potentially save you hundreds of dollars each year, you’re getting an annual opportunity to take more trips or upgrade your vacation. It is a great way to make new memories with your loved ones.
As a cardmember, you also get a free checked bag for yourself and up to six people on your reservation. I like this feature because I can board the plane without struggling with the large suitcase I plan to fill with souvenirs.
Checked bag fees often cost $60 per round trip. The free checked bag feature allows a party of four travelers to save up to $240 in fees in just one round trip.
Another great card benefit that's going to make your trip more memorable is priority boarding. After you've checked your free bag, you can board the plane and get situated before other passengers. This is an especially great feature for people who need more time to settle in—like families traveling with children, older travelers moving at a more leisurely pace, or business travelers setting up laptops.
Alaska Airlines is well known for stellar customer service. For the second year in a row, Alaska Airlines has made Newsweek’s list of America’s Best Customer Service. That means when you have delays, questions or changes, you have a good chance of getting the assistance you need to get on your way as quickly as possible.
In my experience, great customer service is key to planning a memorable vacation. After all, what good is a free flight if you didn’t enjoy your experience?
While the 40,000 miles bonus offer and the companion fare already make this a great deal, there are a couple of other nice benefits and details to consider:
If you already fly Alaska Airlines, getting this card is a no brainer. You’re getting tremendous value with the annual Companion Fare offer, free checked bags, priority boarding, and 40,000 bonus miles offer. If you haven’t tried Alaska Airlines but wonder why they keep winning awards, now’s your chance to see what all the buzz is about.
While Alaska Airlines offers flights to more destinations from the West Coast than any other airline, the airline’s coverage is less strong on the East Coast. If you travel exclusively in the East Coast and already have a favorite airline, you might want to do more research before picking up this card.
The Alaska Airlines Visa is perfect for people who aspire to travel for vacations or special occasions each year, and anyone looking for a simple travel rewards credit card program with solid perks—especially if you plan on traveling with someone.