How Much Are My Alaska Airlines Miles Worth?

Sam KemmisSeptember 2, 2020
On a similar note...
On a similar note...

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If you’re a frequent West Coast flyer, or just someone with a bunch of Alaska Airlines miles, you’re probably curious how much those miles are actually worth.

The short answer is this: NerdWallet values Alaska miles at 1 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 1 cent or more in value from your Alaska miles.

Use the calculator below to figure out how much your trove of miles (real or hypothetical) is worth, based on this value.

What does this value mean?

Our estimated value of 1 cent per Alaska mile provides a lower-end value you can use to determine the relative value of your own redemptions.

In other words, this is the value you can expect to get from your Alaska miles without seeking particularly high-value redemptions. This means you can get more value by looking for sweet spots and using more advanced award techniques. It also means you can end up getting lower value than this if you’re not careful and book the first award ticket you find.

How flexible are Alaska miles?

Simply put, Alaska has some of the best and most diverse global partners of any major U.S. airline, and its miles can be used to great effect by booking partner flights. Some partners to target with your award searches include:

  • Japan Airlines.

  • Cathay Pacific.

  • Qantas.

  • Emirates.

How do Alaska miles compare to other airlines?

As you can see, Alaska falls somewhere in the middle of the airline pack with its mile value:

However, the value of the miles themselves tells only half the story. The other half comes from the rate at which you earn these miles. Combining these rates gives us the “rewards earning rate,” which basically means the amount you can expect to earn back in the form of rewards for every dollar spent with the airline.

As you can see, Alaska performs much better in this more important metric:

In other words, earning miles with Alaska offers great “bang for your buck” compared to most other domestic airlines.

How did we determine the value of Alaska miles?

We collected hundreds of data points comparing the cash value to award (mile) value for the same routes and dates. That is, we compared the cost of a given ticket in either cash or miles, across many tickets.

This method differs from others in that it looks at actual redemptions rather than hypothetical, maximized redemptions. The advantage of this approach is that it provides a real-world indication of how much these miles are worth, on average. That said, it doesn’t take into account the high-value redemptions that points enthusiasts seek.

Wondering what you can do with those miles? Check out our guide to redeeming Alaska miles, as well as some Alaska award sweet spots to consider.

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