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Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card Review – 3x Miles on Alaska Airfare


alaska airlines visa signature credit card

Our rating

4.1/5

Pros

  • thumbs-upGreat sign-up bonus (50,000 miles after you spend $2,000 during the first 3 months)
  • thumbs-up3x miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases
  • thumbs-upCompanion Fare every year your card remains in good standing

Cons

  • thumbs-downHas an annual fee ($75)
  • thumbs-downMediocre baseline rewards rate
  • thumbs-downNot ideal if you don't live near an Alaska Airlines hub

The Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card is a travel rewards card with a $75 annual fee. It offers fairly generous rewards for Alaska Airlines purchases, as well as dining with more than 11,000 Alaska Airlines restaurant partners. Every $1 spent earns Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles, which are redeemable for award travel with Alaska Airlines and several global airline partners.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card also offers a nice lineup of travel benefits. It’s comparable to other brand-specific airline credit cards, including United Explorer Card and Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. It also competes with general-purpose travel credit cards such as Discover it Miles, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.


How the Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card Stacks Up

The Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card has a lot of competition in the airline credit card world, just like Alaska Airlines has plenty of competition in the airline industry. 

One card that people considering the Alaska Airlines card also look to is the Chase United Explorer Card, which has a similar rewards program and fee structure. Here’s how the two stack up.

Alaska Airlines Credit CardChase United Explorer Card
Sign-up Bonus50,000 miles plus Companion Fare (companion airfare from $121) after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months50,000 miles as a sign-up bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards on Flights3x miles on Alaska Airlines purchases2x miles on eligible United Airlines purchases
Other Rewards1x mile on all other purchases1x mile on all other purchases
Annual Fee$75$95 annual fee after the first year

Key Features of the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card

What makes the Alaska Airlines Visa card better than most airline credit cards? From the generous sign-up bonus to the famous Companion Fare benefit, learn how this particular piece of plastic stands out from the crowd.

Alaska Airlines Visa Sign Up Bonus Banner

Sign-up Bonus

After making $2,000 or more in purchases within three months, you get 50,000 bonus Mileage Plan miles. That’s enough to redeem for a round-trip economy flight anywhere within the continental United States.

Also, for a limited time, you get Alaska Airlines’ famous Companion Fare (one per cardholder, starting at $121 with taxes and fees) when you spend the same $2,000 in purchases within three months. If you fly several times a year, this bonus could easily be worth more than $1,000 when accounting for award airfare plus the Companion Fare discount.

Earning Mileage Plan Miles

From the day you open your account, your Alaska Airlines Visa Card earns an unlimited 3 Mileage Plan miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines purchases.

All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 mile per $1 spent. Miles don’t expire on active accounts, but you may forfeit them if you close your account (or Bank of America closes it due to delinquency).

Redeeming Mileage Plan Miles

You can redeem accumulated Mileage Plan miles for flights with Alaska Airlines and about a dozen airline partners, including Cathay Pacific, British Airways, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines.

Redemption minimums generally start at 10,000 miles for domestic economy Alaska Airlines flights, but can require as few as 5,000 miles for short-haul flights (700 miles or less). Other carriers’ minimums range as high as 25,000 miles for domestic economy flights, and higher still for international flights, so this is a good deal.

You can combine miles and cash at redemption, provided you have the minimum number of miles required. Doing so occasionally confers a discount. For instance, Alaska Airlines offers fare discounts up to $200 per flight when you choose its Money & Miles option.

Mileage Plan miles are generally worth $0.01 to $0.02 apiece at redemption, though their value can vary greatly depending on the routes and dates for which they’re redeemed. In general, longer, non-peak-season overseas flights offer the best value, sometimes well in excess of $0.02 per mile. Short-haul domestic flights offer the least value. There are no blackout dates or other restrictions on redemptions.

Alaska Airlines Booking Window

Companion Airfare Benefit

No matter how many miles you’ve earned or which route you select, you’re entitled to one discounted companion airfare ticket (round-trip) per year. The base fare for this ticket is always $99, and the additional taxes and fees can be as low as $22, for a total of as little as $121.

The traveler using the companion award must accompany someone who pays the full published fare for the same flight. The award expires 12 months from the date of issue.

Overdraft Protection

Bank of America deposit accountholders can protect against overdrafts by linking their checking, savings, or money market accounts to their Alaska Airlines Visa Card.

When an overdraft occurs, the Alaska Airlines card is drawn on for a cash advance in increments of $100. For instance, a $150 overdraft produces a $200 advance. Each overdraft advance costs $12 (as opposed to the regular cash advance rate of the greater of $10 or 3%) and accrues interest at the maximum cash advance rate. These terms are subject to change at Bank of America’s discretion, so read the fine print before taking advantage.

Additional Travel Benefits

This card comes with some additional travel benefits, including:

  • A free first checked bag for the cardholder and up to six companions on Alaska Airlines flights
  • 20% off in-flight purchases on Alaska Airlines flights, including in-flight food, beverages, and entertainment
  • Other select benefits at Alaska Airlines’ discretion
Alaska Airlines Benefits

Important Fees

This card comes with a $75 annual fee. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3%. There are no foreign transaction fees.

Credit Required

This card requires excellent credit, which generally means a FICO score above 740. Lower scores may qualify, but if you have any notable credit blemishes, your application may be denied.


Advantages of the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card

The Alaska Airlines Visa card is one of the better airline credit cards for a few reasons: the solid sign-up bonus, potentially generous companion airfare benefit (Companion Fare), and additional perks for Bank of America deposit account holders.

  • Sign-up Bonus Requires Reasonable Spending. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card’s sign-up bonus is relatively simple to attain. When you spend $2,000 within three months of opening your account, you get 40,000 bonus Mileage Plan miles – good for a free economy round-trip anywhere within the United States – and a complimentary Companion Fare that effectively doubles the value of your bonus.
  • Companion Airfare Benefit Is Great for Traveling Couples. This card’s companion airfare benefit is perfect for traveling couples planning longer trips. Depending on the route it’s used for, it can be worth hundreds of dollars. United MileagePlus Explorer Card and Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express lack comparable benefits.
  • Bank of America Customers Get Overdraft Protection. If you have a deposit account with Bank of America, you can use your Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card to protect against overdrafts. This is a great benefit relative to other travel cards with associated deposit institutions, such as Discover it Miles and Discover Bank.
  • Partner Airlines Serve Much of the Globe. Although Alaska Airlines primarily serves the United States (and really only focuses on the western United States, at that), accumulated Mileage Plan miles are redeemable with about a dozen other airlines with global reach. Cathay Pacific serves much of East Asia, Qantas serves Australia, British Airways serves Europe, and so on. If you plan to travel beyond Alaska Airlines’ home territory, you can still find opportunities to get free flights.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. This card has no foreign transaction fee, which is great news for travelers who frequently fly Alaska’s partners overseas.

Disadvantages of the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card

The Alaska Airlines credit card has some notable limitations. The biggest include limits on redemptions, mediocre in-flight perks compared with other airline cards, and a modest miles-earning baseline.

  • Can Only Redeem for Airfare and Related Purchases. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card’s rewards program is fairly generous, but the redemption process is restrictive: You can only redeem for Alaska Airlines and partner airfare and upgrades, or for Alaska Airlines vacation packages and cargo shipments. You can’t redeem for hotel nights, rental cars, or other travel purchases. This is a big drawback relative to a general-purpose travel card such as Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture Rewards.
  • Moderate Baseline Rate for Earning Miles. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card earns 1 mile per $1 spent for all non-airfare and non-dining purchases. That’s a definite drawback for cardholders who don’t purchase Alaska Airlines airfare or dine out very frequently. If you’re looking for a better baseline earning rate, consider a general purpose travel card such as the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. which earns an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on all purchases.
  • Limited In-Flight Perks. The checked bag fee waiver is nice, but the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card has few benefits once it’s actually time to board your flight. For instance, you don’t get priority boarding or in-flight discounts with this card. Gold Delta SkyMiles ($95 annual fee) offers both.
  • Has an Annual Fee. This card comes with a $75 annual fee. That’s a drawback for frugal travelers and those who don’t fly enough to justify an annual outlay. For a fee-free option, look to Discover it Miles.
  • Alaska Airlines Doesn’t Fly Everywhere. As you can see from the route map below, Alaska Airlines’ flies mainly to major and secondary West Coast airports. It has some connections elsewhere in the continental U.S., and to Hawaii, but it’s best for people who live in Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, and California.

Alaska Airlines Route Map

Final Word

Like many travel rewards cards, the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card‘s perceived value depends heavily on how you use it. If you dine out frequently at Mileage Plan Dining partners and use Alaska Airlines as your default airline, it’s going to be hard to beat this card. If you’re airline-agnostic, don’t live near an Alaska Airlines airport (Seattle, San Jose, or another major West Coast city), or don’t dine out often, there are many better travel rewards cards for your money.

Then again, this card’s benefits are pretty attractive. If you’re willing to make a few lifestyle tweaks to boost its miles earning power, you probably won’t be disappointed.

alaska airlines visa signature credit card

Our rating

4.1/5

Pros

  • thumbs-upGreat sign-up bonus (50,000 miles after you spend $2,000 during the first 3 months)
  • thumbs-up3x miles on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases
  • thumbs-upCompanion Fare every year your card remains in good standing

Cons

  • thumbs-downHas an annual fee ($75)
  • thumbs-downMediocre baseline rewards rate
  • thumbs-downNot ideal if you don't live near an Alaska Airlines hub
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.