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Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card: Excellent Potential Value

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card: Excellent Potential Value

A card that provides excellent potential value, for consumers who fly with Alaska Airlines and its Mileage Plan partners
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0

Editor's Rating

4.5/5.0

Between its Coach Companion Fare Certificate and miles-earning-potential, the Alaska Airlines credit card is a travel-hacker favorite. There is a lot of value that can be mined out of it, for those who travel with Alaska Airlines, or its partners, at least once a year. Cardholders will need to be careful when redeeming their miles if they want to maximize value. This can create restrictions some people may not welcome – for those individuals, a more general rewards credit card can be a safer bet.

**Good For…

**Bad For…
  • Those who travel with 1 or more people
  • Earning Alaska Airlines miles
  • Anyone looking for easy-to-use rewards
  • Earning miles to travel to Asia

Review: What Is the Value of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card?

The Alaska Airlines credit card is a great option for individuals who either want to earn a lot of airline miles, or those who frequently travel with Alaska Airlines. In either case, this credit card packs a lot of value. The miles you earn with the Alaska Airlines credit card can be used to book travel with several other airlines, including American Airlines, Delta, British Airways, and KLM. This gives the card a decent level of flexibility and options to book award travel in spots where Alaska Airlines may not offer flights.

The other major benefit present in the card is the annual Coach Companion Fare. If you travel with at least one other person, when flying with Alaska Airlines, you can bring them along for a low cost of $99 + taxes and fees (once per year). This is a benefit that has a potential value of hundreds of dollars, easily compensating for the card’s $75 annual fee.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card requires some amount of management, in order to maximize its value. Redeeming miles can produce varying rewards rates that range from 0.7% to 15% - one of the highest levels of variation we’ve seen. In order to attain the higher end of this spectrum, however, you will need to spend some time in front of a computer screen, searching for the best way to use your miles, across different airlines/dates/times. These may limit your flexibility, and don’t leave lots of room to travel whenever you want. If you want to maintain a greater level of freedom (albeit at a reduced rewards rate), consider general travel rewards cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Bottom Line: The Alaska Airlines Credit card packs a high potential value for those willing to put in a moderate amount of work into redeeming their award travel. 

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card Benefits & Features

The most standard reward that comes with having the Alaska Airlines credit card is the Mileage Plan™ miles you can earn when using it.

You can get the most miles, 5 per $1 spent, when using the card to pay for Mileage Plan Dining. This encompasses dining out at any one of the thousands of participating locations nationwide – they can include restaurants, bars, and clubs. These participating locations will only offer these rewards on select days, so your mileage will vary. A list of all the Mileage Plan Dining locations, as well as well as basic information about them (reviews, average price, and rewards dates) can be found at the Alaska Airlines website. These range from a specific branch of the fast food chain Wendy's to some of the nicest restaurants in Los Angeles, depending on the day of the week.

The next best way of earning miles with this credit card is when using it to pay for Alaska Airline tickets – 3 miles per $1 spent. All other spending nets just 1 mile per $1. Things such as balance transfers, cash advances, or fee payments will not earn users any miles.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card
Annual Fee
$75
Purchase APR
16.74% - 24.74% Variable
Credit Needed Good
Details
  • First Checked Bag Free for you and up to 6 companions booked on your reservation
  • Coach Companion Fare from $121 ($99 base fare plus taxes and fees from $22)
  • Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent directly on Alaska Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees, plus chip-enabled for enhanced security when used at chip-enabled terminals.
  • No mileage cap.
  • Miles won't expire on your active account.
  • Low Annual fee of $75

All cardholders who are approved for the Alaska Airlines credit card also receive 25,000 bonus miles, as a welcome gift. We estimate the value of this bonus to be roughly $475 – or enough to cover the card’s $75 annual fee for the next 6 years. Given the fact that this bonus reward doesn’t require any spending threshold to be met, it is one of the more generous welcome offers we’ve seen.

What Are Alaska Air Miles Worth?

We have calculated the average value of an Alaska Airlines mile to be $0.019. This value, however, can vary greatly depending on how you use your miles. Mileage Plan™ miles earned with the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card can be redeemed with either the affiliated airline, or any of its partners. Alaska Air partners with a number of other major carriers, including Delta and American Airlines. This allows you to use miles in order to book award travel even with destinations not served through Alaska Airlines. A full list of Mileage Plan™ Partnerships can be found below.

Mileage Plan Partners?

AeroMexico

AirFranceAmerican AirlinesKorean Air

British Airways

Cathay PacificDeltaQantas

Hainan Airlines

EmiratesFiji AirwaysLAN

Iceland AirKLM

As pointed out above, depending on how and when you choose to book your travel, the value of your miles can vary greatly. When we examined several itineraries, we noted these values to fluctuate anywhere between $0.008 and $0.05. The table below displays some of the sample trips we looked at, as well as the corresponding prices – both in USD and miles.

Carrier

FromToPrice in Miles + FeeValue of TicketPoint Value

Alaska Air

SeattleLos Angeles25k+ $12$221$0.008

Alaska Air

AnchoragePortland25k $12$433$0.017

Alaska Air

Los AngelesTampa32.5k + $11$622$0.019

American Airlines

New York CityChicago25k + $38$357$0.013

American Airlines

Los AngelesTampa25k + $38$343$0.012

American Airlines

Los AngelesCancun, Mexico37.5k + $72$561$0.013

British Airways

New York CityWarsaw, Poland65k + $698$3,408$0.042

British Airways

New York CityLondon, England65k + $714$3,943$0.050

Delta

New York CityChicago25k + $38$361$0.013

Delta

SeattleLos Angeles25k + $38$219$0.007

Delta

Los AngelesTampa25k + $38$486$0.018

Average:$0.019

Note that all award travel comes with a required fee – this covers taxes, fuel surcharges, and more. For Alaska Airlines flights, this figure is low. Certain carriers, however, can charge exuberant amounts of money in these fees. For instance, British Airways is known for charging heavy airline fees. In one of the trips we looked at, in addition to paying 65,000 miles, you would need to pay $714 in fees.

Another important thing worth noting, is that not all flights on Mileage Plan partner airlines will be available for booking through Alaska Air miles. The partner carriers must make the flights specifically available to Alaska Air. In our research, we’ve seen a decent amount of Delta, American Airlines, and British Airways coverage. However, when it came to some of the other airlines, available flights were far less frequent. For travel to Korea, for example, the only available seating for a select few itineraries was through available through the business class. Since Delta, AA, and British Airways cover a good deal of the globe, this isn’t a deal breaker – though it does limit the program’s flexibility.

Coach Companion Fare

Every year they remain cardmembers, Alaska Airlines credit card users will be issued a Coach Companion Fare certificate. This will allow users to add-on an additional passenger to any round-trip Alaska Airlines flight for just $99 (plus taxes and fees). Companion tickets, as they are commonly known, are among the most sought-after airline credit card benefits, for those who frequently travel in groups. The value of this Coach Companion Fare is great – though hard to estimate. Essentially, the more expensive the itinerary, the greater the discount this benefit will provide, since all you will have to pay for that 1 extra ticket is a steady $99, plus any additional surcharges that start from around $22.

First Checked Bag Free

If you or your travel companions tend to pack heavy, the Alaska Airlines credit card can save you money, by waiving the fee on the first checked bag. This benefit is extended to the cardholder and up to 6 travelling companions (provided they are all booked on the same reservation, paid for using the Alaska Airlines credit card). This also only applies to Alaska Airlines, or Alaska-Airlines-operated flights. The first checked bag with the airline costs $25, which means this benefit has the potential of saving you up to $175 in baggage fees per flight.

How Does the Alaska Airlines Credit Card Compare To Other Credit Cards?

In order to arrive at a better estimate of a card’s true value, it’s important to compare it against the backdrop of other available options. Below you’ll find our analysis of how the Alaska Airlines credit card compares when pitted against the competition.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an excellent airline miles and travel rewards credit card, for individuals who value flexibility. This card earns users Ultimate Rewards points – one of the best credit card rewards programs. Part of what makes Chase Ultimate Rewards great is the ability to move the points over to one of the participating hotel/airline partners. Choosing between the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Alaska Airlines credit card should come down to one of two things. If you have no brand loyalty, and are simply looking to maximize point value like a travel-hacker, you can do better with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. If, however, you spend a lot of money on Alaska Airlines tickets already, and can dine at the Mileage Plan locations, the Alaska Airlines credit card will provide better net value.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card vs Hawaiian Airlines Credit Card

The Hawaiian Airlines World Mastercard is a card that most consumers will find inferior to the Alaska Airlines card. Unlike the latter, the Hawaiian Airlines credit card does not offer an annual companion certificate, which greatly reduces its value for those people who travel in groups. The value of Hawaiian Airline miles, like Alaska Airline Miles, will differ based on the itinerary chosen. Qualitatively, choosing between the two cards will come down to which of the partnered airlines you find yourself doing more business with. There is some level of overlap between the two miles programs – such as American Airlines and Korean Air – though there are notable differences. You can view a list of all Hawaiian Airline partners here.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card vs Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

As far as earning miles is concerned, the Alaska Airlines credit card outperforms the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. The latter only rewards up to 2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases, and 1 mile per $1 elsewhere. The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express also has an annual fee of $95 that is waived for the first year. However, when it comes to carrier-specific benefits, such as free checked luggage, and priority boarding privileges, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express reigns supreme. Therefore, if choosing between the two cards, one should ask themselves what matters most: miles or airline perks and benefits. If it’s the first, then the Alaska Airlines card wins-hands down. If benefits matter to you, then the answer will depend on which airline you fly with most frequently – picking the card affiliated with that airline is the best course of action in that instance.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card vs Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Consumers who want to save on their travel, but don’t want the headache of managing points and redemptions should consider the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. This card provides a flat 2% rewards rate across all purchases charged to it. While significantly lower than what is available through the Alaska Airlines credit card, the Capital One® alternative allows users to simply swipe and receive statement credit on travel purchases. If you don’t fancy yourself a travel-hacker, and don’t want to spend time in front of a computer trying to find the best points-to-dollar ratio for flights, you will likely walk away with one of the best net rewards using the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Right now, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is also running a fantastic new promotion. Users get 10x miles on hotels when they pay with their Venture card at hotels.com/Venture.

Comparison Tool

For a more individualized credit card recommendation, you can use our tool below to do it hassle-free. Input your monthly spending, and we will do all the math in order to figure out each card’s net rewards, given your specific profile. Keep in mind that the tool only quantifies the rewards you get from swiping and paying with the cards. Things such as companion tickets, or waived baggage fees are not included.

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Assumptions based on $1,430 monthly spend
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{"cardCategory":"rewards","cardIds":"163,165,1012,251,195,196","initialResultsLimit":0,"endpoint":"https:\/\/creditcards.valuepenguin.com\/api\/creditcards\/models\/rewards","onCurrent":"true"}

Comments and Questions

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Info about the following cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, and Amazon Business American Express Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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® Card 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).