As if the drumbeat of negative news from Alaska Airlines wasn’t enough, we are now getting reports that the main perk of holding the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card may become much harder to earn soon.
Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan is one of TPG’s favorite airline loyalty programs. Unfortunately, there’s been a steady drip, drip, drip of negative developments at the program.
Doctor of Credit was first to report this news, which was then picked up by View from the Wing.
Rumored changes coming to the personal Alaska card
According to an application link that Doctor of Credit temporarily got hold of, the personal version of this Bank of America credit card may soon have a minimum spending requirement to earn the valuable Alaska Companion Fare benefit.
According to the application landing page, which Bank of America has since pulled, you’d need to spend $6,000 per year to claim the Companion Fare benefit.
If the rumors are true, it’s not all bad news. There will reportedly be a largest-ever sign-up bonus for the card.
According to the limited-time email offer sent to some customers, the sign-up bonus would be a whopping 70,000 Alaska miles after you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 90 days of account opening. You’d also get a statement credit of $100 on Alaska purchases.
On top of that, you’d also earn 2 miles per dollar spent on gas, cable, streaming services and local transit (including ride-hailing services) purchases plus 3 miles per dollar spent on Alaska purchases. You would also get $100 off an annual Alaska Lounge+ Membership when you pay with your new card.
The annual fee would increase from $75 to $95.
One new benefit is priority boarding for cardholders, which will likely be similar to Group 4 or 5 boarding on American Airlines for its cobranded credit cardholders.
There is one other sweetener: a 10% rebate on miles earned per year if you have other accounts at Bank of America.
Related: Best sweet spots with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
TPG has reached out to both Bank of America and Alaska Airlines for comment. Alaska wouldn’t confirm any of the details but did say, “We’re currently working on enhancements to our Visa Signature Card. We announced this past March that additional benefits are on the way. We’ll have more to share in early 2023.”
This has led us to believe that Alaska might announce the card’s changes at the same time or soon after an expected devaluation of their award charts in late December.
What I plan to do with my Alaska cards
If you haven’t had the personal card, it might make sense to sign up under this improved offer (when it becomes available). For me, however, the changes to the annual fee and the Companion Fare perk would be a deal breaker.
I used my Companion Fare for my niece on a recent trip to Hawaii. Unlike the Delta companion certificate, you can use the Alaska Companion Fare on trips to Hawaii, which is nice, but I didn’t spend $6,000 on my Alaska card last year and I won’t this year either. It makes a lot more sense for me to use a card that earns me transferable currency.
Related: How my unused Alaska Companion Fare saved a co-worker nearly $700 on summer travel
I might reconsider if spending on the Alaska credit card helped me earn status, but aside from a temporary perk in 2021, the card doesn’t do anything to help you earn Alaska status.
There is a chance, I suppose, that existing cardholders get grandfathered into the current benefits. That strikes me as unlikely.
It’s not clear what happens to the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card, which also offers a companion pass and which I also hold, but if these changes roll out to both those cards, I will product change both of them to a no-annual-fee Bank of America card. (TPG recommends downgrading instead of closing your card to help maintain your credit score).
It’s part of a trend with Alaska lately that I’m not happy about. Alaska has instituted dynamic pricing on some awards, making finding business-class awards hard to find and more expensive.
Alaska has also slashed earning rates on partners like Cathay Pacific and dropped valuable partners like Emirates.
These changes aren’t great, and worse may come as another potential devaluation looks to be on the horizon.
There are still lots of things to love about Alaska, including the ability to add stopovers for free on most awards and the fact that you still earn miles for every mile you fly on both Alaska and its partners. (That means you get the same miles even for cheap tickets, unlike with the other major U.S. carriers.)
Still, I’m very worried about the direction Alaska is headed. Negative changes for current Alaska cardholders would be another change slowly driving me away from my onetime favorite airline.