About Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff
Published on: Apr 4, 2017

If you love flying Alaska Airlines, then the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card could be a great fit for you.

New cardholders have the chance to get 30,000 Mileage Plan miles, which are frequent flyer miles you can use to book flights for free.

There are several other benefits you’ll need to now and we’re going to look over those offers in the next few minutes.

Now, while free miles and other perks may dazzle you, remember that this card has a set of rates and fees and well as positive and negative reviews that give you a fuller picture of the Alaska Airlines Visa.

Once we work through benefits, fees, rates and reviews, we’ll end our article with some general conclusions about this card, compare it to a few other airline rewards cards and give some recommendations.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card’s Short-Term Benefits

The two main short-term benefits you get with the Alaska Airlines Visa is the up-front miles we mentioned earlier and what’s known as a “companion pass.”

Bonus Miles

If you can spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of owning this card, Alaska Airlines will deposit 30,000 miles to your Mileage Plan account (takes about two minutes to set-up).

Those 30,000 miles can then be used to book flights with Alaska, but keep in mind that, since Alaska is part of an airline network, your rewards flight may include Alaska and other airlines like Delta.

Companion Pass

Should you hit your $1,000 requirement for the miles, Alaska will also give you a $99 companion pass, which is a discounted ticket for someone traveling with you.

According to Alaska Airlines, you’ll pay $22 in fees and taxes for that ticket, so plan on spending $121 to travel with your friend or family member.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card’s Long-Term Benefits

Like most of the airline rewards cards you’ll find, the Alaska Airlines Visa has a series of features that will benefit you beyond the first year of card ownership.

This is an important thing to point out because it’s the long-term perks that will keep you happy. Sure, up-front bonuses are great, but what worth do they have if the card doesn’t have much to offer otherwise?

Earning Miles With the Alaska Airlines Visa

Whenever you use your Alaska Airlines card to make purchases, there’s a good chance you’re going to earn miles for what you buy.

Every dollar you spend on Alaska Airlines and/or Virgin America (they’re merging) will get three miles. Every dollar you spend on everything else will get you one mile.

So, if you use your card to buy a $500 ticket from Alaska Airlines’ website, you’ll get 1,500 miles ($1=3 miles). Now, if you use your card to buy $10 worth of snacks during your layover, you’ll get 10 miles ($1=1 mile).

Based on the research we’ve done, we think that the average American family can spend at least $24,000 a year on their credit card and, in many cases, even more.

What’s that mean for you? About 25,000 points a year you can use to book flights with Alaska or its airline partners.

A Quick Overview of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature’s Points Value

The real question, of course, is how far Alaska Airline miles can get you. We wanted to find out, so we researched three Friday-Sunday flights to see how much a seat costs.

At the time of publishing, these flights were 60 days away, which is right around the optimal time to book a domestic flight.

DEN-SEA: We found four seats on this flight for 12,500 points on the way to Seattle and one seat at 7,500 points on the return flight. Departure times tended to be in the morning, but there were two evening departures from Denver to Seattle.

SFO-NYC: Seats on this cross-country flight went for 20,000 to New York and 20,000 on the way back. If you’re willing to move travel back a day to Thurs-Saturday, then you could score seats for 12,500 miles.

MIA-BOS: This East Coast journey only had one MIA-BOS flight at 12,500 miles – it departed at 7 a.m. However, the flight back had seven options, all at 12,500 miles.

Based on our research, there’s a good chance you can cash in your bonus miles for at least one round-trip flight. The earlier you book, the better; cheaper fares get gobbled up pretty quickly.

Now that we’ve got the miles question out of the way, let’s steer back to the other long term benefits of this card.

Free Baggage and Companion Fare

As an Alaska Airlines Visa cardholder, you and up to six traveling companions on your booking get one free checked bag, assuming the bag meets the airline’s size (under 63 linear in.) and weight requirements (under 50 lbs.).

You’ll also get a companion pass every year for $121 (fare plus taxes/fees). This discount fare can be used for Alaska or Virgin America flights.

To use it, you go to your Mileage Plan account and your voucher will have a discount code you use when booking your flights.

According to Alaska Airlines, you can only use these passes when you book a ticket paid by cash, not miles.

Also, any upgrades you make to your paid set will be added to your companion seat for free.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card’s Rates and Fees

Up to this point, the news about this card has been pretty good. It’s got some nice short- and long-term benefits.

However, from the perspective of the financial institution offering this card (Bank of America, in this case), these free perks need to be balanced out by something.

Now, credit cards make a ton of money from “interchange fees”, which is what they charge merchants to process credit-card payments. But, they also make a decent amount of money off late fees and interest payments:

  • APR on purchases and balance transfers: 12.74%-19.74%
  • APR on cash advances: 15.74%-22.74%
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%
  • Annual fee: $75
  • Foreign transaction fee: $5
  • Balance transfer fee: Great of 3% or $10

Reviews of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card

The general consensus of credit-card experts and cardholders is that this card offers a lot of flexibility because Alaska Airlines has multiple airline partners. This means you can use your points for flights to almost anywhere in the world.

They also note that it’s a great card if you fly Alaska Airlines – the card’s free bag allowance makes up for the annual fee after three one-way flights.

ValuePenguin went as far as to say that this card is a travel-hacker favorite, which means people who use credit cards solely to get free flights and hotel stays think this card is great. They, along with several other sites say the companion pass is awesome, too.

But here’s the part that’s hard for us to deal with: the companion pass. Yes, it’s a great deal because the person with whom you fly gets a straight-up, $121 ticket on any Alaska Airlines flight where companion seats are available.

Also, it’s pretty great that Alaska applies the main traveler’s paid upgrade to the companion pass.

However, you have to keep in mind that you can only use a companion pass when you book a ticket you pay for with cash, not miles.

For us, that diminishes the value of the card because Alaska is asking you to pay full price for a ticket you otherwise could buy with your rewards miles.

This can cause some serious problems depending on where you live. Consider this: The 12.5K MIA-BOS flight we mentioned earlier costs $1,348.

If that’s the flight you need for you and your companion, it simply isn’t worth it to buy a full-price ticket in order to take advantage of your companion pass.

While this isn’t the case at every airport, it’s important to do a little research on Alaska’s fares to and from the airport you’ll most likely use to travel.

Reviews of Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has a history of being one of the best domestic airlines in the country.

According to the Airline Quality Rankings, the premier judge of the country’s 13 major carriers, Alaska was the fifth best airline in the country based on, the site says, “mishandled baggage, consumer complaints, on-time performance and involuntary denied boardings.”

Skytrax, another airline rating system, gives Alaska its three-star rating and a 7/10 score based on more than 330 customer reviews. Skytrax says their three-star ratings are given to airlines who deliver “fair Quality performance that conforms to an industry ‘average’ of acceptable product and service standards.”

Our Conclusions About the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card

There are a lot of things this credit card does right and there are some it doesn’t.

APR: Amazing

The Alaska Airlines Visa’s low-end APR is better than many of the airline rewards credit cards we’ve reviewed – about 3% lower than leading Chase and American Express cards.

Remember, though, you won’t have to worry about APR if you pay off your balance every month. If you carry a balance, any interest you pay will cut into the value of this card.

Free Bags: Above Average

The free bag perk you get with the Alaska Airlines Visa is also a strong benefit that tops many other credit cards.

According to our ranking of the best airline rewards cards of 2017, Gold Delta SkyMiles cardholders get a free bag for up to nine people, while Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select cardholders get the freebie for up to four people.

Companion Pass: Good and Bad

We think, in principle, the cheap companion pass is a great offering from Alaska, but there are two things that concern us.

First, the pass is only good for one year; you can’t roll them over. Second, you can’t use the companion pass with a rewards flight.

In some cases, flights out of your home airport might be so expensive that you book with another carrier and your companion pass is worthless.

Priority Boarding: None

We also noticed that priority boarding is missing from the set of perks you get with this card. The United MileagePlus Explorer, Gold Delta SkyMiles and Citi AAdvantage Platinum allow their passengers to get on before general boarding or with the first group.

Points Value: Average

The points values we found in our search of three different flights revealed that Alaska’s prices were on par with what you’d get on a United flight, but not as good of a deal as you’d get with points from your Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card.

At 7.5K to 12.5K for many flights, these prices will definitely land you one round-trip flight with your 30,000 bonus points and, if you’re lucky, two round-trip flights for shorter journeys.

If it’s a cross-country flight you want, though, your intro points may not be enough.

Our SFO-NYC example showed that the cheapest flights on Fridays and Sundays were 20,000 each way, which would leave you 10,000 points short.

For Good Value, You Might Want to Look Beyond the Alaska Airlines Visa

Which airline rewards card is best for you is a question of how often you fly, which airlines you like and what kind of flights you want.

If you’re someone who just wants a card that will get them the most free flights, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier is a great choice.

However, if you’re looking for a credit card that gives you a more comprehensive flight experience (priority boarding, airport lounge passes), you may want to check out the United MileagePlus Explorer card.

The redemption rates for awards flights are similar to Alaska Airlines, but cardholders get priority boarding, two United Club passes every year, 10,000 bonus points if you spend $25K each year and your first bag is free.

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