Alaska Airlines Visa Review

Alaska Air VisaThe Alaska Airlines Visa offers good opportunities for people to accumulate miles rewards with Alaska Airlines.  Alaska Airlines is one of the larger carriers on the West Coast (Alaska, Washington State, Oregon and California). If you fly frequently between Anchorage (ANC), Seattle (SEA), Portland (PDX), and points south including the San Francisco Bay Area (SFO, OAK, SJC) or Los Angeles (LAX, BUR, ONT) you may already be familiar with Alaska Airlines. If that’s the case this Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card is worth considering. Card members enjoy a wide range of benefits through the Visa Signature program.  The Alaska Airlines Visa is issued by Bank of America.

Bank of America is currently offering new card members 25,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan bonus miles upon approval.  The great feature about this signup deal is there is no purchase required to receive these bonus mileage points.  Compared to other airlines rewards cards with purchase minimums within the first few months to qualify for the signup bonus, the Alaska Airlines Visa signup bonus is totally free.  The 25,000 bonus miles are enough for a round-trip flight on Alaska Airlines within Alaska, Canada, or the continental U.S.

Other benefits that cardholders can receive with the card:

  • An annual coach Companion Fare ticket
  • 3 miles for every dollar spent on Alaska Airlines tickets
  • Up to 5 miles for every dollar spent using the Mileage Dining Plan
  • One mile on all other purchases
  • Unlimited miles may be earned
  • Miles can be redeemed with Alaska Airlines partner airlines

The annual fee for the Alaska Airlines Visa is $75. It is not waived for the initial year of membership.  This card also charges card members a 3% foreign transaction fee on all purchases made outside of the U.S.  If you travel a lot internationally, these fees can quickly add up to a significant amount.

In addition to the perks related to Alaska Airlines travel, cardholders also enjoy the many benefits offered by Bank of America such as:

  • 24/7 access to mobile banking
  • Account alerts via your mobile phone
  • 0% Liability Guarantee

Here we’ve broken down the details of the Alaska Airlines Visa to assist you in determining if it’s a good choice for you.

The Facts

The Good:

Signup bonus:

When you sign up for the Alaska Airlines Visa you immediately receive the 25,000 bonus miles.  By comparison most other rewards cards require a fairly significant minimum purchase within the first three months. The bonus miles alone give you adequate mileage to redeem for a round-trip coach flight on Alaska Airlines (within Alaska, the continental U.S., or Canada).

Good mileage rewards for purchases:

Card members have the opportunity to earn rewards according to the following levels:

  • Three miles per dollar spent on Alaska Airlines tickets, vacation packages, Cargo, and In-flight purchases
  • Up to five miles per dollar spent with the Mileage Dining Plan
  • One mile per dollar spent on all other purchases

As long your account remains active (at least one mile earned within a 24 month period) your miles never expire.  There is no mileage cap so you can earn as many miles as you want using your Alaska Airlines Visa.

The Mileage Dining Plan allows card members to earn points at various restaurants located in most major cities within the U.S.  You must use your card to pay for all purchases in order to earn the appropriate points.

One companion ticket annually:

Cardholders receive one companion coach fare free each year.

Ability to book with airline partners:

Card members also have the added benefit of being able to earn miles with airline partners of Alaska Airlines.  These include a number of foreign and domestic airlines.  If you fly with American or Delta Airlines, you can book your flight using Alaska Airlines miles.  The complete list of partner airlines is:

  • AeroMexico
  • AirFrance
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • Fiji Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Lan
  • Qantas

Regional partners (both Alaska based) include:

  • PenAir
  • Ravn Alaska

Bank of America benefits:

In addition to travel rewards, card members also receive Bank of America services such as:

  • Account alerts – Stay on top of due dates and balances from your mobile phone. Receive alerts when purchases are made with your card to protect yourself from fraudulent use.
  • Mobile banking – Pay your credit card bill online or transfer funds. Available 24/7, quickly and securely.
  • 0% Liability Guarantee – Protects cardholders from fraudulent credit card transactions.

Visa Signature benefits:

All Visa Signature credit cards include a wide variety of benefits including discounts on dining, hotels, sporting events and at select retailers.

The Bad:

Limited benefits:

While there is no cap on the amount of miles you can earn using the Alaska Airlines Visa, any other travel benefits are almost nonexistent.  Specifically, there are:

  • No free checked bags
  • No priority boarding
  • No fast track to elite status with the airline

If you are a frequent flier, these missing perks may be reason enough to give you pause about the card.

Annual fee:

Cardholders are charged an annual fee of $75 which is not waived for the first year.  Some people may think receiving the yearly companion fee at a discounted rate is worth the annual fee.  Definitely a point to consider, however, when many rewards cards charge either no fee or waive the fee for the initial 12 months.

Foreign transaction fees:

Many of the partner airlines are international carriers so you may be someone who enjoys traveling abroad on a regular basis.  If this is true, you should be aware that this card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee on the total price of all purchases made outside of the U.S.  These fees can add up really fast.

The Ugly:

High APRs

The Alaska Airlines Visa comes with a 14.24% annual percentage rate.  If you carry a balance on your card, the interest charges can get expensive month after month.  If you ever are late with a payment, Bank of America can apply the penalty APR of 29.99% to your account indefinitely.

Not everyone will be approved:

To be approved for the Alaska Airlines Visa, applicants must generally have an excellent credit score (typically a minimum of 740-760) and proof of income to qualify for a credit line of at least $5,000.  The downside is that you may apply for this card and automatically be downgraded to a lesser card – The Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus or Preferred- both of which have smaller bonuses.  The Platinum Plus gets only a 5,000 miles bonus and no companion fare.  The Preferred card delivers only 3,000 bonus miles.