The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card has a very specific target customer: someone who primarily flies Alaska Airlines. While miles can be relatively flexible, the welcome bonus is fairly standard: Get a $100 statement credit, 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. The real perk here is access to the annual Companion Fare.
Here’s what you need to know to determine whether the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is right for you.
» Learn More: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Your Complete Guide
You fly Alaska Airlines or their partners
When you pick an airline’s credit card, you should live near or fly at least once per year to one of the airline’s hubs. Alaska Airlines offers 1,200 daily flights in the U.S, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica. However, there are more nonstops from certain cities, primarily its Seattle base. Review Alaska Airlines’ route map to see if you want to fly where it flies.
If you don’t live near an Alaska Airlines hub, you can still get value out of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card. Alaska partners with 18 other airlines, including American Airlines and Emirates. This gives you plenty of options when it comes to redeeming your Alaska miles.
You have someone to fly with
One of the biggest perks of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is access to the Companion Fare. In the first year, you get a Companion Fare after meeting the spending requirement. After that, the Companion Fare is reissued annually.
Here’s how it works: When you book a paid fare for yourself, you can bring along a travel companion from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22).
The Companion Fare is only valid for travel on Alaska Airlines flights. You get the most value out of the Companion Fare if you fly long distances or during busy periods. For instance, the fare wouldn’t be worth it if you’re booking a cheap flight since it essentially "costs" $99 plus taxes and fees for you to use it.
If you don’t plan on flying with another person in the next year, you may be better off choosing a card with a higher welcome bonus and more options for earning bonus miles.
You don’t mind paying an annual fee
A $75 annual fee is pretty minimal, but there are travel credit cards with no annual fee. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has $0 annual fee and still offers a decent welcome bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value.
When deciding which to choose, consider the minimum spending requirement and whether you fly Alaska Airlines. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card also doesn’t offer perks such as free checked bags or a Companion Fare. If you take advantage of the Companion Fare, you’ll easily get $75 worth of value out of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card.
» Learn more: Wells Fargo Propel AmEx review: No fee, so much value
You’d like to fly short distance flights on Alaska Airlines
If you fly frequently between Portland and Seattle or between California cities, the welcome bonus on this card could get you up to four round-trip flights. It takes as little as 5,000 Mileage Plan miles for a one-way flight under 700 miles.
» Learn more:
You’d like to fly first class on Alaska Airlines
If you fly Alaska frequently, you may be more concerned with earning miles for first class upgrades. For eligible tickets, you can upgrade a reservation for 15,000 miles each way or 30,000 miles round-trip. The welcome bonus alone is enough for a round-trip upgrade to first class.
You check luggage
You can use the card’s free checked bag allowance for you and up to six people on the same reservation. The savings for two people flying round-trip would be $120. If you only pack carry-on luggage and don’t use the other benefits, this may not be the best card for you.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best airline credit card for you Why the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card Is great for frugal West Coast travelers Alaska Airlines MVP elite status program: The complete guide