The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card credit card offer on its face is no big deal. Let’s see:
- 25,000 bonus miles
- A $99 Coach companion fare ticket ($121 with taxes and fees) issued after each cardholder anniversary
- 3 miles for every qualifying Alaska Airlines purchase
- No mileage cap
- No minimum spend
- $75 annual fee
- Some generic features (1 mile per $ of spend, 5 miles per $ spend at certain restaurants, etc.)
You can easily match these features or do better (50,000 mile offers with no fee for the first year abound on the internet) with the United Airlines Explorer Card or the American Airlines Aadvantage card. However, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card earns you miles in the far superior Mileage Plan program. In addition, it’s issued by Bank of America so you can have multiple credit cards issued in one day (assuming you have good credit). Your first Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card should be issued automatically online. For the second (or perhaps third or fourth) card you have to call the card’s 800 number, speak with the representative and explain why you want multiple cards (one for business..one for personal, etc.). Just FYI—the representative will offer you additional cards on the same account. You don’t want that because you will only get one point bonus. I recommend you make all card requests in a single day in order to minimize the impact on your credit score. I have heard you can get as many as four in a day. I got only two because I had to interrupt my call to resume my life. When I called back later that night I was unable to get the two additional cards. One further note— please make sure that each card has at least a $5,000 credit line. Cards issued with a sub $5,000 credit line will not receive the 25,000 point bonus.
The key here is the excellent Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Mileage Plan is one of the strongest mileage programs in the business. In addition to being able to redeem miles on Alaska Airlines in a favorable manner, you can also book Partner Awards online on American Airlines, Aero Mexico, Air France, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Emirates, Fiji Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Pen Air, Qantas and Ravn Alaska. Additionally, you can book Cathay Pacific and LAN by calling the Alaska Airlines reservations line (800-252-7522). A few of these partner programs are standouts.
Have you ever been in first class on an Emirates A380? Check out Ben Schlappig’s excellent review of the Emirates A380 first class cabin on onemileatatime.com. Let’s just say—it’s insanely nice. An on board A380 Shower Spa for two—with your own shower caddy—check. Dom Perignon, Jonnie Walker Blue and other top notch booze—check. Amazing food and insane seating—check. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the few frequent flyer programs that can put you in Emirates first cabin for a (somewhat) reasonable number of miles with NO fuel surcharges (try that when redeeming rewards ticket on British Airways with their exorbitant fuel surcharges). In addition, Mileage Plan is the only program I know of that has one-way first class tickets on Emirates. It’s only 90,000 points one way between North America and India or the Middle East (100,000 miles one way to Africa). You want more—you got it. How about a free stopover in Dubai? Say you want to fly from JFK to Cape Town on Emirates in first class. Mileage Plan (and Emirates) will let you stop for a few days in Dubai (check out the Burj Al Arab, etc.) and then fly on to Cape Town. Yeah—you can do that whole thing in FIRST CLASS for 100,000 miles and NO fuel surcharges. Please keep in mind that (a) you can also redeem Emirates first class tickets favorably on JAL (but the JAL/Emirates awards are roundtrip only), and (b) you can’t use Mileage Plan to fly Emirates from North America to Australia.
I am going to put aside my disdain for Cathay Pacific here (one absolutely disastrous experience from Chicago to Hong Kong) for this blog post. Cathay Pacific is a 5 star rated airline and you can fly first class one way from North America to Africa, India or the Middle East on Cathay Pacific with 70,000 Mileage Plan miles. Check out Ben Schlappig’s review of the first class cabin on Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ER on onemileatatime.com Remember, the main hub for Cathay Pacific is Honk Kong so if you route yourself from Chicago to Johannesburg you will get a free stop over in Hong Kong. THAT IS A FREAKIN STEAL FOR 70,000 MILES ONE WAY. Did I mention there are no fuel surcharges? Booyah!
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan also offers excellent redemption rights on LAN (90,000 miles RT for Premium Business class between North America and South America), Fiji Airways (110,000 miles RT for business class between North American and the South Pacific/Australia/New Zealand) and Korean Air (125,000 miles RT for business class between North America and Australia/New Zealand/Fiji). Obviously, all programs are subject to seat restrictions and certain blackout dates.
All in all, the miles you earn in the Mileage Plan program will take you much further (in nicer cabins) than most other mileage programs. So grab as many Alaska Airlines Signature Visa cards as you can and start traveling in style ASAP.