Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan is one of the best travel loyalty programs around, with plenty of ways to earn miles. But what about when it comes to redeeming them? We currently value Mileage Plan miles at 1 cent each.
If you've banked a significant number of Alaska miles, then it pays to know how to make the most of them. Here's how to redeem miles for maximum value:
» Learn more: Your complete guide to Alaska Airlines mileage plan
Book an award trip with Alaska or its travel partners
The first and most obvious choice for squeezing value out of your Alaska miles is redeeming them for flights. Award flights start at just 5,000 miles for a one-way ticket.
Here's the full list of airlines Alaska partners with:
The key to stretching your miles is to get familiar with the award charts to see the airlines with flights to the destinations you want to visit. From there, you can compare which one will offer the most value.
Say, for example, that you want to book an award flight with Alaska miles from New York City to Hawaii. You have two options: Book with Alaska Airlines or American Airlines.
Booking a main cabin fare with Alaska Airlines requires a minimum of 15,000 miles. Booking with American requires 22,500 miles.
You can also save on flights with Alaska Airlines booked within the U.S., depending on the distance:
Hop (distances less than 700 miles)
Main cabin: 5,000 - 30,000 miles.
First class: 15,000 - 40,000 miles.
Skip (distances of 701 - 1,400 miles)
Main cabin: 7,500 - 30,000 miles.
First class: 25,000 - 60,000 miles.
Jump (distances of 1,401 - 2,100 miles)
Main cabin: 10,000 - 40,000 miles.
First class: 25,000 - 60,000 miles.
Leap (distances of over 2,101 miles)
Main cabin: 12,500 - 50,000 miles.
First class: 30,000 - 70,000 miles.
By comparison, if you were to book a domestic flight with American Airlines or Ravn Alaska, you would need 12,500 or 7,500 award miles, respectively, for economy class.
Book with money and miles
If you don't have enough miles to cover your flight, you can also use a combination of money and miles.
Money & Miles awards are good for up to a 50% discount on coach and first-class fares. You just can't use them along with Saver fares; maximum discount limits apply.
Here's a snapshot of how you can apply Money & Miles awards:
50% discount up to $100
50% discount up to $200
» Learn more: How to earn miles with Alaska Airlines
Use miles to book hotels
Another way to put Alaska miles to work is by booking hotels. You can redeem miles at more than 400,000 properties worldwide. You also have the option of booking with a combination of cash and miles.
The best way to maximize your miles is to use the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card to pay for your stay. Doing so allows you to take advantage of discounted redemption levels, meaning you can book hotel stays with fewer miles, leaving more miles to use elsewhere.
Upgrade to first class
If you want to make your next trip with Alaska Airlines more comfortable, you can use your miles to upgrade to a first-class fare. Upgrades require a flat 15,000 miles.
Of course, if you would rather save your miles for another redemption, you can always purchase a first-class upgrade. Upgrade fees range from $29 to $199 depending on the length of the trip.
Request a free stopover
Another way to extend the value of your Alaska miles is by booking a free stopover. You can get a free stopover per one-way ticket, which is basically a way to visit two cities for the price of one. You can do this online or you can get help from an Alaska Airlines agent at 1-800-252-7522.
Technically, you could use the stopover option for any destination where it's available, but it's typically most valuable on international flights. Just watch out for variations in taxes and fees, especially when booking with partner airlines.
Other ways to use your Alaska Airlines miles
You can also redeem your Alaska Airlines miles for:
Gifts to friends and family (for a fee).
While these options are nice if you want more flexibility, overall, your best bet for making miles count is using them for flights, hotels, first-class upgrades or stopovers.
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