The Guide to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

​​Ever since Alaska joined the Oneworld alliance, members have even more opportunities to earn and redeem miles.
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For people who fly from the West Coast, Alaska Airlines checks all the boxes: It serves complimentary in-flight Starbucks, has a highly valuable co-branded credit card, has 20+ airline partners and is a member of the Oneworld Alliance. This Seattle-based airline also has hubs in Anchorage, Alaska, and Portland, Oregon.

The airline's broad network of airline partners, award sweet spots and lucrative credit card offers are some of the compelling reasons to get familiar with Mileage Plan, the airline's frequent flyer program.

How to earn Alaska Airlines miles

There are a ton of ways to earn Alaska miles, which can be redeemed for flights on Alaska or its partner airlines. NerdWallet values Alaska Airlines miles at 1.4 cents each as a baseline, but with strategic redemptions, you can easily get more out of these rewards.

If you fly a lot with Alaska, you can qualify for elite status after flying enough in a calendar year. Elite status comes with free upgrades and other benefits, including some benefits that you’re also entitled to when flying on other Oneworld carriers

If you go two years without any activity in your awards account, your account may be closed, and you can lose your miles. If this happens, you can reclaim the rewards within up to one year for a fee.

Earning Alaska Airlines miles when you fly

Eligible flights on Alaska Airlines or other qualifying partner airlines earn 1 base Mileage Plan mile per actual mile flown. For example, flying 1,000 miles would earn 1,000 base miles. Eligible flights shorter than 500 miles will earn 500 miles. To get these miles, you must provide your Mileage Plan number when booking flights.

🤓Nerdy Tip

This distance-based earning system is rare among U.S. airlines today, most of which award frequent flyer miles based on dollars spent. Generally, Alaska's rules make it far easier to rack up miles and reach elite status faster, especially if you frequently take long-haul flights.

You also can earn bonus miles depending on the class of service purchased and your loyalty status. Class-of-service bonuses count toward elite status; loyalty status bonuses don't. Using the example above, for a flight of 1,000 miles, you would earn an extra 500 miles if you’re an MVP member, 1,000 extra miles if you’re an MVP Gold and so on.

Elite status level

Bonus earnings

MVP

50% bonus.

MVP Gold

100% bonus.

MVP Gold 75K

125% bonus.

MVP Gold 100K

150% bonus.

To find out how many miles you'd earn on a given flight, use our easy, three-step calculator below. For more information about elite status, skip ahead.

Earning Alaska Airlines miles with a credit card

Alaska Airlines offers three credit cards: Two personal cards and a business card.

Our favorite option is the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, as it is a good option for those who plan on flying with Alaska or its partners. The card has the following welcome offer: Get 60,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

A great benefit of the card is the Companion Fare, which is provided on each anniversary year. That means you can cover a travel companion’s ticket starting at $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22). New cardholders must spend a minimum of $6,000 annually on the card to be eligible for the Companion Fare.

The card, which has an annual fee of $95, also comes with solid ongoing rewards for those who frequently fly on Alaska Airlines:

  • Earn 3 miles per dollar spent directly on Alaska Airlines purchases.

  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible gas, EV charging station, cable, streaming services and local transit (including ride share) purchases.

  • Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Miles earned with a co-branded credit card don't count toward elite status, Alaska Airlines confirmed in an email.

» Skip ahead to other Alaska Airlines credit cards

Other ways to earn Alaska Airlines miles

Some additional easy ways to accrue even more Mileage Plan miles include:

Alaska Airlines credit card referral bonuses

You can earn 5,000 bonus miles for each friend or family member approved for an Alaska Airlines consumer credit card (not the business credit card).

Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping portal

Earn extra miles through select merchants when you shop through the Mileage Plan shopping portal.

Seasonal promotions

These limited-time offers help you earn more miles after meeting the spending requirements. Different merchants can be featured, but some popular offers include those for car rentals, wine and more.

Buying miles

Alaska sells miles, but they cost upward of 2 cents apiece. That often means that they’re not worth the cost, unless you’re getting a truly extraordinary redemption value. Generally, buying miles should be your last resort as there are very few instances in which a miles purchase is a good idea. With the exception of some targeted offers, purchased miles don’t count toward elite status.

How to use Alaska Airlines miles

So you've earned a ton of Alaska miles. But what's the best way to redeem Alaska miles?

The worst-kept secret to getting amazing value out of Alaska miles is when booking international premium cabin travel.

Alaska’s powerful combination of Oneworld and other international airline partners makes it easy to get outstanding value out of each mile. Many of its partner airlines also offer posh first-class accommodations for a relative bargain when paying in miles, compared with what it would cost in cash.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Use NerdWallet's Points Planning Tool to plan your next redemption with Alaska miles.

Alaska Airlines sets award ticket fares according to class of service and the length of your trip in miles. Refundable tickets are more costly than nonrefundable tickets. For flights within the contiguous U.S. and Alaska, award tickets start at 5,000 miles each way. You can see how much your award ticket might cost for your particular trip by using Alaska Airlines' award chart too

Good redemption options

Because the award price of a flight depends on the region you're flying to and from, you get more for each mile when using rewards on otherwise expensive trips. That often means booking international travel with an Alaska Airlines partner. Finding available award seats isn't always easy, but if you can snag one, it can be well worth the effort.

Some of the especially valuable possibilities include:

This Hong Kong-based airline offers a solid business-class experience. A round-trip business class ticket from New York to Hong Kong would cost nearly $8,400. But if you booked it with Alaska Airlines miles, you’d only pay a mere 100,000 miles roundtrip. Essentially you’d be getting roughly 6 cents per mile while traveling in style, before taxes and fees. This is an excellent use of Alaska miles, considering that they are worth 1.4 cents each. Keep in mind that you can’t book Cathay Pacific travel through the Alaska Airlines website, as you can with other airline partners. Instead, you have to book over the phone. Furthermore, Cathay Pacific availability does not show up on the Alaska website, so you’ll need to use British Airways or Qantas to search.

This airline flies all over the world and typically offers relatively reasonable award rates — especially for folks traveling in business and first class. Say, for example, you snagged a first-class round-trip nonrefundable flight from contiguous U.S. and Alaska to Europe for 125,000 miles. If you would have otherwise paid $7,000 for a cash ticket in first class to, say, London — which wouldn’t be unusual — you could get about 5.3 cents per mile on that redemption, even with taxes and fees. That’s an excellent value.

If you’re heading to Australia, redeeming your Alaska Airlines miles with Qantas could be smart. Consider Qantas’s international business class service, for example, which comes with top-notch dining options, lounge access and comfy seats that recline into beds. With Alaska Airlines miles, you can fly from the contiguous U.S. or Alaska to Australia in business class on Qantas for just 110,000 miles round trip. To put that in perspective, a roundtrip flight from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, in the fall on Qantas with a business saver fare would put you back about $8,700 in cash, as of this writing. If you paid for it in miles instead, you’d get about 7.9 cents per mile, after including taxes and fees. That’s an outstanding value.

Bad redemption options

On certain routes, redeeming Alaska Airlines miles just isn't the best option. In particular, here are some redemption options that aren't all that great.

As a general rule of thumb, if a flight costs less than $50 each way, you’re better off paying for it with cash or credit, not rewards. It’s unlikely that you’d get more than a 1 cent per mile in value from a transaction like this. To avoid wasting points, divide the dollar cost of the flight (less the amount of taxes and fees you would pay if you booked with miles) by the mile cost. NerdWallet values Alaska miles at 1.4 cents each, and you should generally aim for redemptions at that rate or better. If you’re getting less than 1.4 cents per mile out of your award booking, it’s probably a better idea to save your rewards for a different trip.

While the Money and Miles payment option, which lets you pay partially with miles, partially with money, promises convenience, it also offers relatively poor value. For flights in the contiguous U.S. and Alaska, for instance, you can get 50% off up to a $100 discount for 10,000 miles, or 50% off up to a $200 discount for 20,000, effectively getting you a maximum of 1 cent per mile. The flexibility is nice, but you can do better.

British Airways has reasonably priced award travel fares in most cases, but it tends to tack on large fuel surcharges for certain routes. These can effectively tank the value of your miles. If you're planning to redeem with British Airways, be sure to watch out for this. If the fees are excessive, it might make sense to book the trip with another partner.

Alaska elite status

Alaska Mileage Plan members earn Alaska MVP elite status either by flying on Alaska and its partners or through status matching.

Status tiers

There are four tiers in Alaska’s Mileage Plan elite status program:

The higher your status, the more benefits you unlock. (More on these below).

Overall, Alaska's elite status is quite generous and relatively easy to attain because of the airline's distance-based earning system. It also offers "elite leave" for new parents, who often have to put traveling on hold as they care for a newborn.

To avoid seeing their elite status go to waste, new parents who show proof of pregnancy or parental leave can receive an extra year of elite status. If you're an elite member welcoming a new baby, this valuable benefit is definitely worth applying for.

Once you earn MVP Gold, you’re able to access Oneworld business class lounges. If you attain MVP Gold 75K, the Oneworld first-class lounges are available to you.

Oneworld elite status

Since Alaska is part of Oneworld, Alaska elites receive reciprocal Oneworld status, which offers benefits when flying on Oneworld partner airlines (see below). Oneworld has three status tiers: Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald. As the tiers increase, you receive all the perks of the preceding level and plus some additional benefits.

Here’s how those benefits shake out when flying on Oneworld airlines:

  • Alaska MVP elites = Oneworld Ruby status: This tier provides some seat selection benefits, preferred seating and priority check-in.

  • Alaska MVP Gold elites = Oneworld Sapphire status: The biggest perk of this level is access to business-class lounges. In addition, you’ll also get priority boarding and baggage allowance.

  • Alaska MVP Gold 75K and 100K elites = Oneworld Emerald status: This tier offers access to first-class lounges, expedited security, first-class priority check-in and extra baggage allowance.

Alaska Airlines elite benefits

Here are the top perks of holding Alaska Airlines elite status:

Benefits

MVP

MVP Gold

MVP Gold 75K

MVP Gold 100K

Mileage bonus

50%.

100%.

125%, plus 50,000 bonus miles when you attain status.

150%.

First Class upgrade at booking

Y, B fares.

Y, B, H, K fares.

Y, B, H, K, M fares.

Y, B, H,K, M fares.

Premium Class upgrade at booking

Y, B or H fares.

Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S or N fares.

All fares except Saver.

All fares except Saver.

Companion upgrades to first and premium classes

No.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Saver fare upgrades to Premium or First Class within two hours of departure

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Discounted cost of annual Alaska Airlines Lounge and Lounge+ membership. Non-elites pay $450 and $600, respectively.

Alaska Lounge: $350. Alaska Lounge+: $500.

Alaska Lounge: $350. Alaska Lounge+: $500.

Alaska Lounge: $350. Alaska Lounge+: $500.

Alaska Lounge: $350. Alaska Lounge+: $500.

Oneworld reciprocal status

Ruby.

Sapphire.

Emerald.

Emerald.

Free checked bags (for member and companion)

2.

2.

3.

3.

Other flight perks

• Priority check-in and boarding. • Dedicated phone lines for reservations and customer service. • Express security line at select airports.

MVP benefits plus:

• Free same-day standby and waitlist for full flights. • Complimentary same-day flight changes.

MVP Gold benefits, plus:

• Four complimentary Alaska Lounge day passes. • Ability to nominate someone for MVP status (so they get the benefits without having to earn the status). • 1 one-way international upgrade certificate on American Airlines.

MVP Gold 75K benefits, plus:

• 2 one-way international upgrade certificates on American Airlines.

How to get Alaska elite status

Elite-qualifying miles include:

  • Miles earned by flying on Alaska Airlines, Oneworld and partner airlines, when you book with your Mileage Plan number.

  • Bonuses earned from class of service.

Elite-qualifying miles do not include:

  • Bonuses earned from loyalty status.

  • Miles earned on co-branded credit cards.

The requirements are listed in the table below. You can log in to your Alaska Airlines online portal to see how close you are to earning these statuses.

Qualifying flights

MVP

MVP Gold

MVP Gold 75K

MVP Gold 100K

Eligible miles earned on Alaska Airlines, Oneworld alliance and global partners

20,000.

40,000.

75,000.

100,000.

Eligible segments flown on Alaska Airlines, Oneworld alliance and global partners

30.

60.

90.

140.

Qualification via eligible miles or segments must include this minimum number of flights marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines

2.

6.

12.

24.

You earn elite status with your activity in a calendar year; your status becomes active about one to two weeks after you earn it and is good through the end of the next calendar year.

🤓Nerdy Tip

You might be able to take advantage of an Alaska status match.

Alaska Airlines partners

Thanks to Alaska Airlines’ membership in Oneworld and its extensive network of Alaska Airlines partners, you can book award travel all over the world through Alaska Airlines, both online through alaskaair.com or by phone.

Redeeming your miles this way can be a brilliant move. Typically, the cash prices of certain international tickets can be quite high compared with the award prices. On such redemptions, you’ll get more value out of your miles.

You can also earn Alaska Airlines miles when you use your Mileage Plan number to book travel on partner airlines when paying for tickets in cash, though in some cases, you won't earn bonuses for class of service when you do this. Alaska Airlines' partners are listed in the table below, with information about which benefits are available and how you can book award travel.

  • Aer Lingus.

  • Air Tahiti Nui.

  • American Airlines (Oneworld).

  • British Airways (Oneworld).

  • Cape Air (earn partner only).

  • Cathay Pacific (Oneworld).

  • Condor.

  • El Al Israel Airlines.

  • Fiji Airways. (Oneworld).

  • Finnair (Oneworld).

  • Hainan Airlines.

  • Iberia (Oneworld).

  • Icelandair.

  • Japan Airlines (Oneworld).

  • Kenmore Air (Earn partner only).

  • Korean Air.

  • LATAM Airlines.

  • Malaysia Airlines (Oneworld).

  • Mokulele Airlines (earn partner only).

  • Qantas (Oneworld).

  • Qatar Airways (Oneworld).

  • Ravn Alaska.

  • Royal Air Maroc (Oneworld).

  • Royal Jordanian (Oneworld).

  • Singapore Airlines.

  • Southern Airways Express (earn partner only).

  • SriLankan Airlines (Oneworld).

  • STARLUX Airlines.

When you're booking with cash through alaskaair.com, you'll only see domestic routes and a handful of international routes online. But when you're paying with miles, you'll be able to book trips to several other regions, as well.

Alaska Airlines credit cards

Alaska Airlines' credit cards are issued by Bank of America®. The cards offered include:

How the Alaska cards compare
Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

Annual fee

$95.

$70 for the company and $25 per card.

Welcome offer

Get 60,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Get 50,000 bonus miles, $100 statement credit and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) after you make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Earning rates

• 3 miles per $1 on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 on eligible gas, EV charging, cable, streaming services and local transit (including ride share) purchases.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

• 3 miles per $1 on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.

• 2 miles per $1 on eligible gas, EV charging, shipping and local transit (including ride share) purchases.

• 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases.

Still not sure?

How much are Alaska Airlines miles worth?

Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Alaska Airlines miles at 1.4 cents each.

To determine the value of reward miles, we compared cash prices and reward redemptions for economy roundtrip routes across several destinations and dates. We divided the cost of the cash ticket by the cost of the reward ticket to determine a “cent per mile” value for each flight, then averaged this value across several flights and dates. Read more about how we arrived at these figures.

This is a baseline value for Alaska miles, based on real-world data collected from hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. Generally speaking, aim for award redemptions that offer 1.4 cents or more in value from your Mileage Plan miles.

To find out the value of your own Alaska miles, use our Alaska miles-to-dollars calculator.

To determine the value of your miles for specific flights, divide the cash value of the ticket (less any applicable taxes/fees if you redeem miles) by the number of miles required for the flight. So if the ticket would cost either $100, or 15,000 miles + $10 in taxes/fees, the math would be as follows:

($100 – $10) / 15,000 = 0.006, or 0.6 cent per mile.

Historical Alaska mile values

Alaska miles have become increasingly more valuable over the past three years.

Alaska Airlines vs. competitors

Alaska Airlines came in first place in NerdWallet’s recent analysis of the best airlines. Alaska notched above-average marks in almost every category, notably high rewards rates, plus best-in-class pet policies.

For the fifth year in a row, Alaska came in first in NerdWallet’s airline rewards program analysis.

Here’s a closer look at thow Alaska competed across subcategories:

Flying on Alaska

The Alaska fare classes are (in order from finest to most basic) are:

The boarding process on Alaska is fairly standard, where your ticket type and your Mileage Plan membership level will determine your assigned boarding group.

Alaska bag fees

On Alaska Airlines, you are allowed a carry-on bag for free, regardless of the type of fare you’re ticketed in.

The standard fee for checked bags on Alaska is $35 for your first bag, $45 for a second and $150 for a third.

But, you can avoid fees by holding certain Alaska-branded credit cards, holding certain levels of elite status, sitting in higher fare class seats and if you're active duty military personnel.

How to change or cancel an Alaska flight (and get a refund)

If you need to cancel an Alaska flight, terms vary by the type of airfare you bought. Non-Saver fares purchased directly through Alaska Airlines, can be changed or rebooked online through the Manage Reservation page.

For all fare types besides Saver, you can change or cancel your flight with certain restrictions, but for nonrefundable tickets, you won’t get your money back — just a credit toward future travel.

To receive a refund for an Alaska Airlines reservation, you must have a refundable ticket issued by Alaska Airlines, unless you request a refund within 24 hours of booking.

Alaska Mileage Plan, recapped

In addition to offering a solid loyalty program, Alaska offers several sweet spots when flying on partner airlines. Due to Alaska joining Oneworld, the airline’s reach has expanded even further, which means that Mileage Plan members have even more opportunities to earn and redeem miles.

Frequently asked questions

Alaska award flights start at 5,000 miles each way for short flights within the U.S. Longer domestic one-way flights will generally cost about 12,500 miles each way.

Generally, no. Unless you have a specific redemption in mind that will net more value per mile than average, it’s better to have cash than Alaska miles (or any airline miles). Even when Alaska runs promotional sales on purchased miles, it’s still usually not worth it.

You can use Alaska miles for flights on Alaska and its partner airlines, or upgrade to first class on an existing reservation. You can also book hotel rooms using Alaska miles, but this is generally not the best way to get the most value.

You can transfer Alaska miles to other Mileage Plan members, but it’s generally not a good idea. You’ll be charged $10 per 1,000 miles transferred, plus a $25 handling fee.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.


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