5 ways to get the most out of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ Miles

Man in winter gear and backpack on a small Alaskan cliff, looking out at the sun setting over the mountainsImage: Man in winter gear and backpack on a small Alaskan cliff, looking out at the sun setting over the mountains

In a Nutshell

If you fly with Alaska Airlines regularly, get the most out of your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ Miles by using the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and being smart about your spending and flight choices.
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The more opportunity you have to fly with Alaska Airlines, the more chances you have to earn miles with the airline’s highly regarded loyalty program, Mileage Plan™. With its flexible list of global airline partners that fly to more than 1,000 destinations around the world, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan should definitely have your attention.

But once you’ve signed up, how do you earn the most miles possible in a short amount of time? And when you’re ready to redeem those miles toward your next vacation, how can you make sure you get the most out of them?

We’ve got you covered. Here are five easy ways to get the most out of your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ Miles, whether your preferred destination is Anchorage or Aruba.


  1. Using the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
  2. Earning more miles while you shop, sleep and eat
  3. Checking flights with different partner airlines to find the best deal
  4. Considering shooting for elite status
  5. Transferring miles from other programs — or buying them straight from Alaska

1. Using the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card

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A quick way to earn Mileage Plan™ Miles is with the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card. The card earns unlimited three miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, and one mile per $1 spent on everything else.

To sweeten the pot, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card currently offers a nice sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles, which you can qualify for by spending $2,000 or more on purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening.

If you hit the qualifying $2,000 spend within the first 90 days, you’ll also qualify for Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare for your first year — an offer you wouldn’t otherwise get until your first account anniversary.

The Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare entitles you to buy one ticket and get a companion ticket for a base fare of $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22) valid on Alaska Airlines flights booked on alaskaair.com.

While 40,000 miles is a hefty reward to start off with, we recommend taking a long, hard look at your budget before trying to qualify for this sign-up bonus. If spending $2,000 in purchases in 90 days doesn’t sound feasible right now, consider holding off until you can comfortably do so.

It’s worth noting that the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card has a lot more going for it than just its loyalty rewards plan. After the first year, you’ll continue to receive the standard Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare offer on your account anniversary, and you’ll always get a free checked bag on Alaska Airlines flights.

Keep in mind though, the card comes with a $75 annual fee, so you’ll want to make sure you’re traveling enough on Alaska Airlines to make the rewards outweigh the fee.

Folks who live on the West Coast — where Alaska Airlines is based — might have an easier time using Mileage Plan Miles than their East Coast counterparts.

2. Earning more miles while you shop, eat and sleep

Along with making airfare purchases on your Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, there are other ways to earn miles, including the shopping, eating and sleeping you’d already be doing, after signing up for the Mileage Plan program.

Earn Mileage Plan™ Miles while shopping

To earn miles while shopping, you can log into the online Mileage Plan™ Shopping portal and then click through to any of the participating partner websites.

You can earn miles on every eligible purchase you make within the Mileage Plan™ Shopping portal — and that’s on top of the miles you’re already earning with your Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card.

Not much for online shopping? You can now earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Miles by shopping in-store, once you select specific in-store offers through the online portal and link an eligible credit or debit card.

Earn Mileage Plan Miles while dining

Similarly, you can earn miles while eating at restaurants or ordering takeout. Just register your credit card or debit card with Mileage Plan Dining, and any time you eat at a participating restaurant and pay with your registered card, you’ll earn miles on the entire purchase, including tax and tip.

Earn Mileage Plan Miles while sleeping

After a long day of shopping and eating, you’ll want to get some rest. If you book a qualifying stay at one of the Mileage Plan partner hotels — a list that includes Marriott Bonvoy™ properties — you’ll earn miles while you snooze. Just make sure you provide your Mileage Plan number when you make your reservation and at check-in.

3. Checking flights with different partner airlines to find the best deal

Alaska Airlines is not a member of any of the three major airline alliances, but it partners with airlines across several different alliances to provide international routes.

Partners may offer different routes at different rates, so it’s helpful to check the full list of eligible partner flights to make sure you get the best itinerary possible. Use the online tool to find the best flight option using your miles, or check out the full list of partner airlines to see your global options.

Save with a stopover

To squeeze more out of your trip, consider adding stopovers to your flight. Rather than having a standard layover on the way to your final destination, adding a stopover could allow you to explore an additional city without purchasing an extra flight.

4. Considering shooting for elite status

Elite status comes with perks like up to two free checked bags and preferred main cabin seating, but it also offers a fast track to accruing more miles.

For the lowest elite tier, MVP, you can earn a 50% bonus on base miles earned on both Alaska Airlines and on their elite-qualifying partner airlines. Higher elite tiers can earn up to a 125% bonus on base miles. This can really add up. So if you’re serious about maximizing your miles, getting to MVP status early can help you considerably.

5. Transferring miles from other programs — or buying them straight from Alaska

If you have Marriott Bonvoy™ Points burning a hole in your pocket, you can opt to transfer these over to Mileage Plan Miles at a rate of 3:1.

And if you’re just shy of the number of miles you need for a particular flight or award, you have the option of buying enough miles to make up the difference.


Next steps

If you fly Alaska Airlines regularly, using the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card and being selective about your shopping and redemptions could get you significantly more value via the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

If you’re not a frequent Alaska Airlines traveler, consider whether there’s another airline rewards program that’s a better fit for you, or whether you’d be better served by a general travel rewards credit card.


About the author: Ken Saathoff is a personal finance writer with a bachelor’s in English and American Literature from Harvard. In his free time, he likes to cook and play tennis. Read more.