Alaska Airlines Visa credit card review: Earn hard-to-get miles

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. 

Alaska Airlines Visa® card overview

The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card is one of the best cards for earning Alaska miles. Even if you don’t live on the West Coast, Alaska Airlines miles are valuable since you can use them to book flights on Oneworld partner airlines, including Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas and American Airlines. You’ll also get a free checked bag and priority boarding if you use the card to pay for your flight. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

Applying for the personal Alaska Airlines Visa credit card and the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card are your main options for easily earning a big chunk of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles.

Alaska miles can be hard to earn given that the program doesn’t partner with any major transferable points currency except for Marriott Bonvoy. Therefore, if you’re loyal to the airline and want priority boarding and checked baggage allowances, or you have a good reason to accrue Alaska miles for travel on Alaska Airlines or its partners, then this is a card worth considering getting.

The recommended credit score for this product is 700 or above.

So, let’s see if the personal card is a good fit for you.

Alaska Airlines Visa welcome offer

Right now, the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card is offering 60,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) after making $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

TPG values Alaska miles at 1.4 cents apiece, making 60,000 miles worth a solid $840.

Alaska Airlines Visa benefits

Obviously, this card is a great choice if you frequently fly Alaska Airlines.

With a $95 annual fee, this card provides elitelike perks without Alaska Airlines elite status. Cardholders get one piece of free checked luggage for themselves and up to six other passengers on the same reservation when they pay with the card, saving $30 per person each way on checked bags. You’ll also enjoy Alaska-related discounts, including 20% back on Alaska Airlines inflight purchases.

If you fly Alaska with a friend or family member at least once a year on paid fares, this card’s most lucrative ongoing benefit is likely to be the annual companion fare, which you’ll earn every year on your account anniversary if you’ve spent $6,000 or more within the prior anniversary year.

The companion fare is only valid for coach travel but is eligible for upgrades if you hold Alaska’s elite status. TPG’s Summer Hull has taken advantage of a status match to earn Alaska MVP Gold 75k status, then used some of the four one-way upgrades that come with that status to upgrade flights to Hawaii that were booked using the companion fare.

Resting in Alaska First Class coming home from Hawaii (Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

For more information on the companion ticket and how to get the most value out of it, see our tips on maximizing the Alaska Airlines Visa Companion Fare. Remember that round-trip flights generally offer a better value for this perk, and you’ll have to pay for the ticket with your Alaska Airlines Visa.

As previously mentioned, the card also offers a free checked bag for the cardholder and up to six other travelers on the same reservation when you use the card to pay for your flights. There are no foreign transaction fees, so you can use the card anywhere around the globe without incurring extra charges.

Cardholders will also enjoy priority boarding, similar to Group 4 or 5 boarding on American Airlines for its cobranded credit cardholders. You will board after first class, veterans, folks who need extra time, and Oneworld and Alaska elite members. Again, to access this benefit, you need to pay for your flight with your card.

Lastly, you’ll enjoy a 10% rebate on miles earned annually if you have an eligible account at Bank of America.

Earning miles on the Alaska Airlines Visa

With the Alaska Airlines Visa card, you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, 2 miles per dollar on gas, local transit, EV charging stations, ride-hailing, cable and some streaming services, and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

If you frequently travel on Alaska Airlines for work or pleasure and want to build up your Mileage Plan balance, this card is an obvious choice for airline purchases. Considering that TPG values Alaska Airlines at 1.4 cents apiece, that’s a 4.2% return.

You should likely use another travel credit card for non-Alaska purchases since you can do better than the card’s earning rate of 1 mile per dollar. However, if you really want to rack up Alaska miles for partner award flights, then that advice may not apply since Alaska miles are valuable and challenging to get otherwise without flying Alaska.

(Photo by Wallace Cotton/The Points Guy)

Redeeming miles on the Alaska Airlines Visa

There are many ways to slice and dice bonus miles, even considering the devaluation of Alaska’s award charts in late 2022.

Short-haul Alaska awards (such as Seattle to San Francisco) start at just 5,000 Alaska miles each way. Many longer flights (such as Seattle to New York City) are 12,500 miles in economy. If you want first class, it’s often 40,000 miles on longer domestic flights but can start as low as 15,000 miles each way on shorter flights. If you want to head to Hawaii, those awards start at 15,000 miles each way in economy and 40,000 each way in first class.

Alaska’s partners will also cover your travels across much of the globe. Those partners include British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Singapore Airlines. When redeeming through Alaska, you won’t necessarily get the lowest mileage booking rate for all of these partners (depending on the route). But you can build some great itineraries by taking advantage of Alaska’s allowance of one free stopover on one-way award tickets.

Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy

Some of our favorite ways to maximize Alaska Airlines redemptions include booking Cathay Pacific first class from the U.S. to Asia from 70,000 miles one-way, Japan Airlines first class one-way from the U.S. to Asia starting at 70,000 miles and Fiji Airways from the U.S. to Fiji one-way in business class from 55,000 miles.

You could even fly to Australia on Fiji Airways and add in a free stopover in Fiji for the same 55,000 miles in business class.

But you don’t have to lap the planet to maximize Alaska miles. Booking awards around the U.S. and Canada from just 5,000 Alaska miles each way is also a pretty great deal.


Which cards compete with the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card?

Here are a few great cards for earning transferrable points if you’re not in specific need of Alaska miles:

  • If you want to earn Chase points: Go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, one of the top mid-tier travel cards on the market. It offers generous point-earning opportunities, such as 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase travel portal and Lyft purchases and 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services, and online grocery store purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs). These valuable points can be transferred to airline and hotel partners or redeemed directly for travel at a rate of 1.25 cents per point through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For more information, read our full review of the Sapphire Preferred.
  • If you’re after Capital One miles: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card combines fixed-value redemptions with a wide range of nearly 20 airline and hotel transfer partners. With its reasonable annual fee and attractive rewards on everyday spending, this card is a valuable asset worth holding onto. For more information, read our full review of the Venture Rewards.

For additional options, check out our full list of the best travel credit cards.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Is the Alaska Airlines Visa worth it?

The Alaska Airlines Visa is a great choice if you’re an Alaska loyalist or want to diversify your points and miles portfolio with valuable Alaska miles. Thanks to a decent earning rate for Alaska Airlines purchases and the valuable annual companion ticket, the card’s low $95 annual fee pales in comparison to the benefits.

Bottom line

If you’re a dedicated Alaska Airlines customer or looking to broaden your points and miles collection with valuable Alaska miles, the Alaska Airlines Visa is an excellent option. With its generous earning rate for Alaska Airlines purchases and the valuable annual companion ticket, the benefits of this card far outweigh its annual fee.

Apply here: Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card available with 60,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) after making $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.