The Ultimate Guide to the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Program

The Ultimate Guide to the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Program

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If jet setting on Alaska Airlines is the norm for you, then you should definitely take advantage of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program. With miles earned from your flights, you can enjoy free flights or kick back in first class with a pal on your next trip.

Before you know it, you could rack up enough miles to take a free beach vacation to California with your family or head off for a Hong Kong business trip in luxury on a partner airline, sipping sparkling wine, eating gourmet meals and lounging on a bed in first class.

This guide will show you how to join the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program, will outline the benefits and will show you how to get the most out of the program—and add a little more adventure to your life with upgrades and valuable free trips all over the world.

Overview of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program

Alaska Airlines is a U.S. airline with a major hub at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and additional hubs in Anchorage, Alaska; Los Angeles; Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco. The airline averages 1,200 flights daily to 115 destinations—which gives you plenty of opportunities to fly Alaska and rack up frequent-flyer miles. The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program is one of the most popular airline rewards programs with travelers who fly Alaska regularly because it offers some benefits and perks that other mileage programs may not. Even travelers who don't fly Alaska regularly but do fly its partners will definitely want to sign up to start reaping benefits.

Benefits of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan offers many options for earning and redeeming rewards. One feature that sets the Alaska Airlines program apart from many other mileage programs is that you get 1 reward mile for each mile you fly. Even on short flights, members are guaranteed to earn at least 500 miles. The program also provides many other mile-earning options for members who may not fly as frequently. You can earn miles by eating at your favorite restaurants, staying at partner hotels or shopping.

You also can earn Mileage Plan miles when you fly with any of Alaska Airlines' partners, which offer routes spanning the globe. You can use the miles you earn to cover your future flights, hotel stays, or car rentals when you travel. Upgrading to first class is a fun way to use your miles, and when you become an elite Mileage Plan member you will automatically get free upgrades when you book flights.

Explanation of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Screenshot taken in September 2019 from AlaskaAir.com

How to join the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program

Becoming a Mileage Plan member is easy and free. To sign up, simply go to the Alaska Airlines website and complete an online sign-up form. The short form asks for basic information including your name, address, email address, date of birth and the city you fly out of most frequently. You'll also need to create a username and password.

That's it! As soon as you've signed up, you can log in and begin booking flights. From the dashboard, you can view your account activity and track your mileage balance, trips and progress towards elite status. For easy access, you can click the "Remember me" button at login and the site will remember your user ID, name and preferred cities, as long as they're stored in your account profile.

How to earn Alaska Airlines miles

You can earn miles by flying Alaska Airlines or one of its partner airlines, signing up for an Alaska Airlines credit card, referring a friend for the card, shopping, eating at select restaurants and booking at partner hotels.

Getting an Alaska Airlines co-branded credit card will allow you to earn a sign-up bonus when you reach the minimum spending requirement and to continue earning miles with every purchase you make on the card.

Once you become an elite member, you will earn even more miles through bonuses that increase with each tier of elite membership. Here's a bit more detail on your mileage-earning options:

Fly Alaska Air: Earn 1 mile for every mile you fly when you book and fly with Alaska Airlines. Make sure you add your Mileage Plan member number each time you book a flight so you'll get credit for that flight. If you forget to do so, you can always contact Alaska to request Mileage Plan credit for a flight.

Book flights with Alaska Airlines partners: Earn miles when flying any of Alaska Airlines 18 airline partners that fly to 900 world destinations. You will need to make sure to type in your Mileage Plan number when you book. The miles earned may vary by airline, so check your routes to find out which airlines will offer you the best miles return on your flight.

Refer a friend: When you refer a family member or friend for an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card, you can earn 5,000 bonus miles. To refer, you must get permission from your friend to share their email address. They will then get a link from Bank of America that they can use to apply for the card. If they apply and get approved for the card within 60 days of your referral, you earn the bonus miles. This promotion may change periodically, so be sure to check the site for the current bonus offer.

Mileage Plan shopping: Earn miles by shopping at more than 850 partner stores through the Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping Portal. Stores include Apple, Best Buy, Kohl's and Macy's. You don't need to use the Alaska Airlines credit card to earn miles on purchases through the portal, but using it will earn you bonus miles. The number of miles you can earn varies for each store, and it may change based on current offers. For example, Sephora and Neiman Marcus now have offers that will earn you 4 miles for every dollar spent. You can also find special coupon codes for perks like free shipping.

Mileage Plan dining: Earn miles for every dollar you spend, including tax and tip, at any of the thousands of restaurants in the Mileage Plan Dining program. Start by signing up on the Alaska Airlines website and linking a credit card. Then use the search engine to find participating restaurants near you, eat at one and use your linked credit card to pay your bill. If you sign up before March 9, 2020, you will get 1,000 bonus miles when you spend $30 in your first 30 days in the program.

Book a hotel: Book your next stay through Alaska Airlines Hotels to earn 500 to 10,000 Mileage Plan miles per night. The portal is powered by Rocketmiles and includes more than 400,000 properties around the world.

Earn Alaska Airlines miles with a credit card

Using an Alaska Airlines co-branded credit card is a great way to turbocharge your mile-earning power. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card also gives you plenty of perks on Alaska Airlines, including a companion fare deal that allows you to bring a friend with you on a flight. For cardholders who are self-employed or own a small business, the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card may be a great option. Here are some of the top benefits of each card:

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card has an annual fee of $75 and offers the following sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus miles with this special offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card also offers these perks:

  • Free checked bag on Alaska Airlines flights for you and up to six guests
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, and 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.s
  • Additional companion fare when you reach your anniversary year
  • 50% off an Alaska Lounge day pass
  • 20% back on in-flight purchases

Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card has an annual fee of $50 for the company and $25 per card. It offers 60,000 Bonus miles when you make at least $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. The Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card also offers these perks:

  • Free checked bag on Alaska Airlines flights for you and up to six guests
  • unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Additional companion fare when you reach your anniversary year
  • 50% off an Alaska Lounge day pass
  • 20% back on in-flight food, drink and Wi-Fi purchases
  • Business travel services including auto rental insurance, lost luggage assistance and $1 million in travel accident insurance

The information related to the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Another option is to get a credit card that allows you to earn points in a hotel program that offers a transfer to the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program. Due to transfer ratios, it's better to get an Alaska Airlines credit card if your main goal is to get Alaska miles. However, we'll cover the hotel cards in more detail below.

Alaska Airline Seattle Lounge
New perk: an Alaska Lounge day pass for half price when you get the Alaska Airlines credit card (Screenshot taken from AlaskaAir.com in September 2019)

Alaska Airlines airline partners

Alaska Airlines is not a member of any airline alliances, which are formed through agreements between airlines to allow customers to book flights, earn miles and redeem miles at any of the member airlines. Although Alaska Airlines is not an alliance member, it does have airline partnerships with 18 other airlines. Here's an overview of Alaska's airline partners:

  • AerLingus allows you to earn Alaska Airlines miles when you fly to Ireland and Europe on business and economy fares.
  • American Airlines is a top U.S. airline that flies around the world. To earn miles, you will need to search for a flight marketed by Alaska Airlines that will have a flight number beginning with AS.
  • British Airways provides travel to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and India. Alaska Airlines elite MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K get access to the Terminal 3 and Terminal 5 Galleries lounges at London-Heathrow airport.
  • Cathay Pacific provides the only nonstop flights between Seattle and Hong Kong and also flies to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and China. It's known for its luxurious first-class experience.
  • Condor provides flights to Germany and more than 60 destinations throughout Europe. All passengers receive complimentary checked baggage, beverages, meals and in-flight entertainment.
  • EL AL Israel Airlines provides nonstop flights to Tel Aviv and other flights to Israel. The airline plans to soon offer award redemption.
  • Emirates provides travel to Dubai and more than 150 other destinations including Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India.
  • Fiji Airways will not only take you to Fiji but also to New Zealand, Australia, the South Pacific and the Caribbean.
  • Finnair offers direct flights from San Francisco to Helsinki. Flights are also available to Europe, the Middle East, India, Asia and South Asia.
  • Hainan Airlines offers flights to Asia. It's known for its flights to Beijing, Shanghai and other destinations in China.
  • Icelandair offers flights to Iceland and connects to more than 20 destinations in Europe. The airline also offers stopovers in Iceland for up to seven days at no extra charge.
  • Japan Airlines provides flights to Tokyo and other parts of Asia with nonstop service from Seattle to Tokyo and from Los Angeles to Osaka.
  • Korean Air flies from Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco to Asia, the Middle East, India, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
  • LATAM Airlines provides transportation throughout South America. Fly to Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia or Argentina to name a few. Currently, miles can only be earned and redeemed on LATAM-operated flights.
  • PenAir provides transportation to eight communities in western Alaska.
  • Qantas offers flights to Australia and New Zealand.
  • Ravn Alaska provides transportation to destinations within Alaska, including Anchorage, Fairbanks, Bethel and Homer.
  • Singapore Airlines is being added as a partner, but you cannot use or earn Alaska Airlines miles at this time.

Alaska's robust partnership agreements make the Mileage Plan program a great choice even for travelers who don't live in Alaska or fly Alaska Airlines frequently.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan hotel partners

Alaska Airlines has partnered with several hotel companies to offer more options for earning and redeeming miles. Marriott is a top Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan hotel partner, and members of the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program can transfer points to the Alaska program. Points normally transfer at a 3:1 ratio. Transferring in increments of 60,000 points will earn you a 5,000-mile bonus and increase that ratio to 3:1.25. You still lose value, but transferring from your Marriott account can be a great way to get Alaska miles fast.

There are several Marriott credit cards that allow you to rack up Marriott Bonvoy points that can then be transferred to Alaska Airlines. Here are a few of the top cards.

On Chase's Secure Website

Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card is a new card with a $0 annual fee that lets you earn the following: For a Limited Time Only! Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. The card also offers these perks:

  • 15 elite night credits that automatically qualify you for Silver Elite status
  • Earn up to 14X total points for every $1 spent at 7,000+ hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® and 2X points on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).
  • Baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and trip delay reimbursement
On Chase's Secure Website

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card has an annual fee of $95 and lets you For a Limited Time Only! Earn 125,000 Bonus Points and 1 Free Night Award (Free Night Award has a redemption value up to 50,000 points) after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card! The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card also offers these perks:

  • 15 elite night credits that automatically qualify you for Silver Elite status
  • Get Gold Elite status if you spend $35,000 on the card in a year
  • Earn up to 17X total points for every $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® and 2X points on all other purchases.
  • Free-night award on every account anniversary
  • Baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and trip delay reimbursement

Marriott cards can be a nice tool to have in your wallet and can offer you more flexibility if you need a few extra Alaska miles to reach the award you want. In that case, it can be worth taking a hit on the value of your points to convert them quickly to Alaska miles.

How much are Alaska Airlines miles worth?

The value of Alaska Airlines miles depends greatly on how you choose to redeem them. When redeeming for flights with partner airlines, the value of Alaska miles averages from 1 to 3 cents per mile but can go as high as 8 cents per mile with the right redemption. Your value will depend on the airline you use, where you are traveling to and from, and the class you fly. Redeeming for travel provides the best value of any redemption option.

Domestic U.S. flights provide a solid value that allows you to get the average value of 1 to 3 cents per mile, sometimes toward the higher end of that range. International first and business class flights on partner airlines can sometimes allow you to double or triple that value and even reach 8 cents per mile.

To calculate your value, look up the dollar value of the flight and divide that by the number of miles required. Move your decimal two places to the right to get the number of cents per mile.

There are other options for using your miles that require one flat rate. For example, upgrading to first class on Alaska will cost you 15,000 miles.

Can you transfer Alaska Airlines miles?

Miles cannot be transferred to any of Alaska Airlines' partners. To book a flight with a partner airline, you must go through Alaska Airlines. And you definitely can't transfer Alaska miles to nonpartners. For example, you cannot transfer Alaska miles to Delta Air Lines. Most partner flights can be booked online, but you'll need to call Alaska Airlines reservations at 1-800-252-7522 to book travel with Cathay Pacific or LAN.

You can transfer Alaska miles to friends or family members who have an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account. To transfer, you must have at least 1,000 miles in your account. You can transfer 1,000 to 30,000 miles in increments of 1,000. The maximum amount that can be transferred per year is 100,000 miles. The cost to transfer is $10 per 1,000 miles plus a $25 processing fee. Most transfers appear immediately in the recipient's account, but it can take up to 72 hours for a transfer request to process.

Do Alaska Airlines miles expire?

Alaska Airlines miles expire if there is no activity on your Mileage Plan account for two years. It's pretty easy to keep Alaska miles from expiring because earning and redeeming miles will keep your account active. Activity includes all methods for earning and redeeming miles, not just booking flights. That means you can spend on your Alaska airlines credit card, donate some miles to charity or even dine out to keep your miles.

If your miles do get deleted, you can reinstate Alaska Airlines miles for up to one year afterward by paying a $75 fee.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan award chart

The number of Alaska miles it takes to earn a free flight varies based on your destination and the airline you choose to fly. The Alaska Airlines search tool allows you to enter your departure city and destination to compare the number of miles needed for each fare. Using this tool to compare flights before booking is a great way to make sure you are getting the most value from each mile. An Alaska Airlines award flight can cost anywhere from 5,000 to 225,000 or more miles.

This chart shows the miles required for trips from the U.S. to various parts of the world. The chart shows the lowest and highest fares for each class:

Destination

Miles required for economy/main
Miles required for business/first
Miles required for first class
Contiguous U.S. and Alaska5,000–50,00025,00015,000–70,000
Hawaii15,000–50,00040,00040,000–80,000
Canada5,000–50,00025,000–32,50015,000–70,000
Mexico10,000–50,00027,50030,000–70,000
Caribbean17,50027,50052,500
Central America17,500–50,00027,50030,000–70,000
South America20,000–30,00030,000–57,50045,000–85,000
Europe22,500–80,00055,000–280,00070,000–180,000
Africa35,000–55,00062,500–120,00070,000–200,000
Middle East35,000–100,00062,500–105,00070,000–150,000
Asia30,000–85,00050,000–125,00070,000–180,000
India and South Asia42,500–100,00062,500–140,00070,000–150,000
Australia40,000–85,00055,000–125,00070,000–225,000
New Zealand40,000–85,00055,000–125,00070,000–225,000
South Pacific40,000–85,00055,000–85,000N/A

How do you earn Alaska Airlines elite status?

Earning Alaska elite status is simple. You just need to sign for the Mileage Plan program and book flights with Alaska Airlines or its 16 elite-qualifying partners. (Flights on two of its partners, PenAir and Ravn, do not count for elite qualification.)

If you are already an elite member with a partner airline, you can ask for an Alaska Airlines status match. It is a one-time-only offer, and the status tier you receive will depend on the status tier you have with the partner.

With Alaska Airlines, there are three elite tiers: MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K. All three tiers offer perks such as bonus miles and free upgrades. Here is a look at the number of miles required to reach each Alaska elite tier:

Qualifying flights/earning benefits
MVP
MVP Gold
MVP Gold 75K
Eligible miles earned on Alaska Airlines20,00040,00075,000
Eligible miles earned on Alaska Airlines and elite-qualifying partners25,00050,00090,000
Segments flown on Alaska Airlines and elite-qualifying partners306090
Elite bonus miles you get with each tier50% bonus100% bonus125% bonus + 50,000 bonus miles upon qualification

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan elite tiers

Let's take a closer look at the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan's three levels of elite status. As you climb from MVP level to MVP Gold and then MVP Gold 75K, you will earn more benefits. All levels offer bonus miles, free upgrades on Alaska Airlines and free checked bags. When you make it to the higher two levels, you can even upgrade your friends and family members.

Here's a rundown of what you get with each level of Alaska status:

MVP Lowest tier of Alaska Airlines elite status

To reach MVP status:

  • Earn 20,000 miles on Alaska Airlines
  • Earn 25,000 miles with any of Alaska Airlines' elite-qualifying partners
  • Fly 30 segments on Alaska Airlines or any of its elite-qualifying partners

Benefits of MVP status:

  • 50% bonus on miles earned
  • Automatic first-class upgrades on Y, S or Z fares
  • Automatic premium-class upgrades on Y, S, B or Z fares
  • Two free checked bags

MVP Gold Middle tier of Alaska Airlines elite status

To reach MVP Gold status:

  • Earn 40,000 miles on Alaska Airlines
  • Earn 50,000 miles with any of Alaska Airlines' elite-qualifying partners
  • Fly 60 segments on Alaska Airlines or any of its elite-qualifying partners

Benefits of MVP Gold status:

  • 100% bonus on miles earned
  • Automatic first-class upgrades on Y, S, B, M or Z fares
  • Automatic premium-class upgrades on Y, S, B, M, H, Q, L, V, N, K or Z fares
  • Take a friend with you when you upgrade to first class or premium class
  • Four one-way guest upgrades to first class
  • Complimentary beverage in main cabin
  • Two free checked bags
  • Access to express security line at participating airports

MVP Gold 75K Highest tier of Alaska Airlines elite status

To reach MVP Gold 75K status:

  • Earn 75,000 miles on Alaska Airlines
  • Earn 90,000 miles with any of Alaska Airlines elite-qualifying partners
  • Fly 90 segments on Alaska Airlines or any of its elite-qualifying partners

Benefits of MVP Gold 75K status:

  • 125% bonus on miles earned
  • 50,000 bonus miles once you qualify
  • Automatic first-class upgrade on Y, S, B, M, H or Z fares
  • Automatic premium-class upgrade on all fares except saver fares
  • Take a friend with you when you upgrade to first class or premium class
  • Four one-way guest upgrades to first class
  • Complimentary beverage in main cabin
  • Complimentary in-flight entertainment player
  • Two free checked bags
  • Access to express security line at participating airports
As you can see, earning Alaska elite status is worth it and can even significantly boost your mileage earnings.

Use Alaska Airlines miles for an upgrade

Using miles for an upgrade can be an easy, cheap way to get a comfy flying experience with perks such as more room, free wine and a gourmet meal. Alaska Airlines provides a few ways to upgrade your flight with miles. A mileage upgrade to first class will cost you 15,000 miles, so be sure you have at least that many miles in your account. You will also need to make sure your flight is eligible for an upgrade. Just choose "mileage upgrade" as your upgrade preference when you search for flights on the Alaska Airlines website.

If you decide you want to upgrade after booking, you can request the upgrade through Alaska Airlines reservations at 1-800-252-7522. You can also ask for a mileage upgrade when you check in online, although upgrades may not be available at that point. All upgrades are based on availability, and elite members get priority.

How to redeem Alaska Airlines miles for best value

There are many ways for you to redeem Alaska Airlines miles, but you'll get the most value out of your miles if you use them to book flights with Alaska Airlines or its partners. Domestic flights booked directly with Alaska can cost you as little as 5,000 miles one way.

If you'd like to venture further, there are endless destinations that you can visit by flying any of Alaska Airlines' international airline partners. You may get the most bang for your buck by taking advantage of the luxe first- or business-class service offered on some airline partners. For example:

  • For just 70,000 miles, take a Cathay Pacific first-class flight to Asia. With your own private first-class suite, you can enjoy a gourmet Chinese meal then transform your seat into a bed and settle in under your 500-thread-count duvet.
  • Head to India in Emirates business class for 82,500 Alaska Airlines miles. Mingle with other guests as you sip cocktails from the Onboard Lounge. Then nap in your seat that reclines into a flat bed.
  • Take advantage of a business class flight on Hainan for just 55,000 Alaska Airlines miles to any destination in Southeast Asia. On the plane, you will get a predeparture drink and snack, and you can prop up your slipper-clad feet on your personal ottoman.

If you don't have a big trip planned and want to treat yourself or buy a gift, there are numerous other ways to redeem Alaska Airlines miles. Just be aware that these options will give you far less value for your miles. You can:

  • Plan a staycation at a partner hotel.
  • Share miles with a friend.
  • Award miles to customers or employees.
  • Donate your miles to any charity that is a Charity miles program partner.
  • Subscribe to your favorite magazines.
  • Book a free stopover on an international trip.

Final thoughts on Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program is a great way to get rewards for miles flown, whether you frequently fly Alaska or one of its partners. Alaska offers some really nice perks such as automatic upgrades and guest upgrades for elites.

Thanks to Alaska's extensive network of partners, you have almost limitless options for earning and redeeming Alaska Airlines miles. Getting an Alaska Airlines credit card is a great way to rack up Alaska miles quickly without ever leaving the ground.

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program may make it possible for you to take trips to new places and relish new experiences, from jetting off to Fiji to go snorkeling to heading to Dubai to watch the sunrise over sand dunes. Your Mileage Plan miles not only can help you get to new places but may even make it possible to fly to your destination in first class.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).