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Travel How much are Alaska Airlines miles really worth? Our guide to calculating Alaska Airlines miles value

10:10  12 june  2021
10:10  12 june  2021 Source:   millionmilesecrets.com

Everything you need to know about Alaska’s partnership with Oneworld

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How much are your points really worth? It’s an important question to answer to help you gauge which airline credit cards can get you the most bang for your buck. We’ll continue our miles & points value series with a post about Alaska Airlines miles value, my favorite airline miles.

It goes without saying that all of us want to get the most bang for our bucks (or miles). That’s why it’s important to strategize how to redeem Alaska Airlines miles — and what they might be worth — before setting out to earn them.

In my experience, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles are worth somewhere between one cent and eight cents per mile on average — depending on how you choose to redeem them.

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  5 vacation-worthy flights you can book with just 5,000 Alaska miles Alaska Airlines has been in the headlines after joining the Oneworld alliance, with many wondering whether Alaska miles will become more valuable or less once Oneworld redemptions become available in the summer. While that remains to be seen, Alaska miles are still valuable for its domestic and international airline partnerships outside of Oneworld. Some of …Some of the best ways to redeem Alaska miles include international flights to Asia, which is largely closed off to Americans. Even redeeming miles on European carriers is largely off the table. Luckily, Alaska offers a lot of value for domestic award redemptions. In fact, these flights start at just 5,000 miles each way.

a rocky island in the middle of a body of water: shutterstock_1367533016 © Provided by Million Mile Secrets shutterstock_1367533016 I consider Alaska Airlines miles value to be higher than any other airline. I absolutely love flying Alaska Airlines and then redeeming the miles for trips all over the world. (Photo by mikemike10/Shutterstock)

You can earn Alaska Airlines miles relatively quickly with cards like the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card or the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card. Or, you can top up your Alaska Airlines miles account balance by transferring Marriott Bonvoy points. For more information on transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to Alaska Airlines miles and other partners, check out our post on transferring Marriott Bonvoy points.

Right now, both the business and personal Alaska Airlines cards come with an intro bonus of 40,000 miles and a companion fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after you spend $2,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. But, as an added bonus, the personal card also comes with a $100 statement credit (after meeting the spending requirement), which is a great deal because it only has a $75 annual fee!

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You can apply for this Alaska Airlines personal card offer here.

Alaska Airlines miles value for award flights on Alaska Airlines

Simply put, you can get between one cent per mile and three cents per mile when redeeming your miles for domestic award flights on Alaska Airlines (or its partner American Airlines). Alaska Airlines has great award flight options along the west coast of the United States, with several flights priced as low as 5,000 miles plus $5.60 one-way in coach. But these flights often sell for just $50-75, so the value might appear more enticing than it actually is.

On the other hand, you can also redeem just 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles for nonstop first-class flights from coast to coast–which often retail for more than $500-800. This gives you an average value of two or three cents per mile. An impressive way to use Alaska Airlines miles.

table © Provided by Million Mile Secrets

The reality is that domestic award flights provide the most consistent value for your Alaska Airlines miles, somewhere in the range of 1.25 cents per mile to 2.5 cents per mile. That’s a respectable and solid value for your miles and an award option I utilize frequently for flights where Alaska Airlines or American Airlines have the best schedule.

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Redeeming Alaska Airlines miles for award flights on partner airlines

Alaska Airlines publishes a different award chart for each partner airline. This means if you want to fly to Asia with Alaska airlines miles, you’ll pay a different number of miles if you plan to fly with American Airlines, Japan Airlines or Cathay Pacific.

graphical user interface, application © Provided by Million Mile Secrets

Because of these “variable” award charts, it’s even more important to compare different options when choosing how to redeem your Alaska Airlines miles. It also means you might get significantly more value out of your miles when redeeming on one airline than another — even if traveling to the same exact destination.

For example, a one-way award flight to Asia costs you just 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles in business class on Cathay Pacific. That same flight could sell for ~$4,136, meaning you’d get ~8.2 cents per mile.

graphical user interface, text, application, email © Provided by Million Mile Secrets

But on the other hand, redeeming miles for an American Airlines flight to the same destination (Hong Kong) would cost you 70,000 miles, giving you a lower value of 5.9 cents per mile, because the flights cost the same amount. Thus, the value of your miles can vary — but you will consistently get phenomenal “cents per mile” values when redeeming for international first and business-class flights.

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Alaska Airlines is also working on expanding the number of airlines it partners with and you can now use Alaska miles to book flights on Aer Lingus. You can book economy awards starting at 30,000 miles, but these partner awards are subject to a bit of dynamic pricing and can go all the way up to 80,000 miles one-way!

Redeeming Alaska Airlines miles for free hotels, airfare discounts or first-class upgrades

To arrive at our estimate of the value of Alaska Airlines miles, I thought it was important to consider both the stellar and underwhelming rewards available for using up your miles. So, I present three of the lesser values for redeeming your hard-earned miles. My advice — avoid these redemption options.

Redeem your Alaska Airlines miles for hotel bookings

Ouch — try to avoid using your valuable miles for overpriced hotel bookings. In a few searches, I found that using your miles for hotels will equate to about half a cent per mile in value. For example, I found a night when the W hotel in New York City costs either ~$560 per night, or over 100,000 Alaska Airlines miles (booked through the Alaska Airlines hotels page).

That’s a really poor value, and one that I recommend you avoid unless absolutely necessary.

graphical user interface, text, application © Provided by Million Mile Secrets

Redeem your Alaska Airlines miles for airfare discounts on Alaska Airlines flights

Airfare discounts are fairly simple and you can redeem Alaska Airlines miles for one cent per point off flight bookings. For example, you can redeem 10,000 miles or 20,000 miles for $100 or $200 off your flight booking, respectively.

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timeline © Provided by Million Mile Secrets

This yields a value of one cent per mile, a respectable but not impressive redemption. But if you’re struggling to use your miles, this isn’t a terrible option.

Redeem your Alaska Airlines miles for first-class upgrades

If you find yourself wanting to upgrade an upcoming Alaska Airlines flight, you can redeem 15,000 Alaska Airlines miles to upgrade any Alaska airlines flight from coach to first class. Depending on the length of the flight and the fare (to upgrade), 15,000 miles can be a decent value.

For example, a $500 first-class flight that costs $250 with an upgradeable fare can be ‘bumped’ to first class with just 15,000 Alaska Airlines miles. If you would have otherwise paid the $250 fare difference, your Alaska Airlines miles are worth a value of ~1.67 cents per mile.

graphical user interface, text, application, email © Provided by Million Mile Secrets

On the other hand, a short 400-mile flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco might only cost $100 more to book in first class. In this case, redeeming 15,000 miles would yield a value of only 0.67 cents per mile, a significantly less impressive redemption value.

How much does Alaska Airlines think its miles are worth?

Not directly related, but I figured it was worth mentioning that Alaska Airlines regularly sells Mileage Plan miles. The standard price to buy miles is $27.50 for 1,000 miles, at a cost of 2.75 cents per mile. I appreciate their brand confidence, but that’s a silly price to buy miles, unless you simply need a couple thousand more to reach a specific award threshold.

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graphical user interface, application © Provided by Million Mile Secrets

Additionally, Alaska Airlines offers frequent mileage sales that include bonus miles when purchasing large amounts of miles (we don’t normally mention these sales, since they’re not always a great deal. But they come around fairly frequently. In their latest mileage sale, you could buy points for as little as 1.97 cents per mile (if you were willing to max out the promotion and spend over $1,700).

Based on this valuation from Alaska Airlines, I think we can safely conclude that Alaska Airlines miles are worth lessthan two cents per mile.

How should you use your miles?

It really comes down to how you want to spend your Alaska Airlines miles. Maybe you have been saving for a big family vacation to Hawaii and you would rather get one cent per point for flight discounts on the date and nonstop flights of your choice. Awesome.

Or maybe you have the flexibility (and endless desire to maximize value) like some miles & points enthusiasts and want to save your miles for the creme de la creme Cathay Pacific first-class award flight to Asia (with a stopover in Hong Kong included, of course). Bravo!

Alaska Airlines miles are very valuable and flexible thanks to Alaska’s travel partners. There’s no right way to make the most of your points. Nearly any travel you book using Alaska Airlines miles is going to save you money.

Points vs. Cash Calculator

Deciding when to use rewards versus when to use cash isn’t always a straightforward task. So we created a points vs. cash calculator to make things a lot easier for you.

Using the calculator is simple. All you have to do is:

  • Select which hotel points you’d like to use
  • Find the cash price of the exact hotel you plan to book
  • Enter the number of points your stay will cost
  • Include any taxes and fees associated with your stay
const airlines = [{"program":"ANA","points_valuation":"2","minimum_value":"2","average_value":"2","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"1000"},{"program":"Air Canada Aeroplan","points_valuation":"1.5","minimum_value":"1.35","average_value":"1.5","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"750"},{"program":"Alaska Airlines","points_valuation":"2","minimum_value":"2","average_value":"2","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"1000"},{"program":"American Airlines","points_valuation":"1.4","minimum_value":"1.3","average_value":"1.4","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"700"},{"program":"Avianca","points_valuation":"1.5","minimum_value":"1.5","average_value":"1.5","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"750"},{"program":"British Airways","points_valuation":"1.4","minimum_value":"1.25","average_value":"1.4","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"700"},{"program":"Cathay Pacific","points_valuation":"1.5","minimum_value":"1.35","average_value":"1.5","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"700"},{"program":"Delta","points_valuation":"1.25","minimum_value":"1.2","average_value":"1.25","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"625"},{"program":"Emirates","points_valuation":"1.25","minimum_value":"1.3","average_value":"1.3","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"650"},{"program":"Etihad","points_valuation":"1.5","minimum_value":"1.25","average_value":"1.5","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"750"},{"program":"Flying Blue (Air France and KLM)","points_valuation":"1.4","minimum_value":"1.25","average_value":"1.4","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"700"},{"program":"Frontier","points_valuation":"1.1","minimum_value":"1.1","average_value":"1.1","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"550"},{"program":"Hawaiian Airlines","points_valuation":"1","minimum_value":"1","average_value":"1","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"500"},{"program":"JetBlue","points_valuation":"1.4","minimum_value":"1.4","average_value":"1.4","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"700"},{"program":"Singapore Airlines","points_valuation":"1.5","minimum_value":"1.25","average_value":"1.5","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"750"},{"program":"Southwest","points_valuation":"1.4","minimum_value":"1.4","average_value":"1.4","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"700"},{"program":"Spirit","points_valuation":".4","minimum_value":".4","average_value":".4","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"200"},{"program":"Turkish Airlines","points_valuation":"1.7","minimum_value":"1.25","average_value":"1.7","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"850"},{"program":"United Airlines","points_valuation":"1.3","minimum_value":"1.25","average_value":"1.3","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"650"},{"program":"Virgin Atlantic","points_valuation":"1.8","minimum_value":"1.5","average_value":"1.8","fifty_thousand_miles_worth":"900"}];const hotels = [{"program":"Accor","points_valuation":"2.2","minimum_value":"2.2","average_value":"2.2","fifty_thousand_points_worth":"1100"},{"program":"Hilton","points_valuation":".5","minimum_value":".5","average_value":".5","fifty_thousand_points_worth":"250"},{"program":"Hyatt","points_valuation":"1.5","minimum_value":"1.5","average_value":"1.5","fifty_thousand_points_worth":"750"},{"program":"IHG","points_valuation":".5","minimum_value":".5","average_value":".5","fifty_thousand_points_worth":"250"},{"program":"Marriott","points_valuation":".8","minimum_value":".8","average_value":".8","fifty_thousand_points_worth":"400"},{"program":"Wyndham","points_valuation":".9","minimum_value":".9","average_value":".9","fifty_thousand_points_worth":"450"}];

Should I pay with points or cash?

Points valuations are based on MMS calculation and not provided by the loyalty programs

Countries most dependent on tourism

  Countries most dependent on tourism Stacker consulted the World Bank’s TCdata360 database released in 2020 to rank the countries most dependent on tourism.

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Bottom line

Based on the above findings (and literally hundreds more hours of personal travel planning), I find that Alaska Airlines miles are consistently worth ~1.5 cents per mile or more. For my own accounting, I value Alaska Airlines miles higher than any other airline mile due to their consistent award options and variety of travel partners. That makes the bonuses you can earn with the personal Alaska Airlines credit card and the Alaska Airlines business credit card especially valuable.

You might be able to get more or less value from your miles, but I find this is a good starting point. Do you have other ‘sweet-spot’ award travel redemptions where you’ve received significant value from your Alaska Airlines miles? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of our top credit cards for both beginners and frequent travelers. It comes with a huge welcome bonus, solid ongoing points earning on bonus categories and some great travel perks. The travel perks like delayed baggage and flight insurance will easily cover the already reasonable annual fee of $95. It earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points which is one of the best flexible points currencies: you can transfer to a number of travel partners like Hyatt and United, easily redeem for any type of travel through the Chase portal where you’ll get 25% bonus or even earn straight cash back.

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Countries most dependent on tourism .
Stacker consulted the World Bank’s TCdata360 database released in 2020 to rank the countries most dependent on tourism.

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