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If you’ve never considered an Alaska Airlines-branded credit card because you don’t travel to Alaska often (or ever), you could be missing out. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card isn’t just for travelers to the Last Frontier. A range of perks and extensive travel partnerships give this card broad appeal worth considering.
Here’s how to know if the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is for you.
You don’t want to spend $3,000+ to earn a welcome bonus
This Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card offers a solid welcome bonus: 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.
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These days, a $3,000 minimum spending requirement to earn a bonus is far more common, and even $4,000 to $5,000 minimums exist. But if your goal is to earn travel rewards without racking up interest fees or going hog wild at the mall, the lower spending requirement makes this an attractive offer.
You have a travel partner already picked out
Among the sweetest perks of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is the $99 Companion Fare, which lets you bring a companion on any Alaska flight from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). That includes Alaska-operated flights to Hawaii and Costa Rica. Just buy your own ticket with cash and book your companion on the same reservation using your Companion Fare code to enjoy the discounted rate.
A $75 annual fee sounds good to you
When it comes to rewards credit cards, of course the best annual fee is no annual fee. And those no-fee cards are out there if that’s what you’re looking for. But sometimes annual fees are worth it — and the lower they are, the better. At $75 a year, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is among the lowest-priced cards in a market where $95-and-up annual fees are far more common.
You’d like flexible miles
Your Mileage Plan miles can be redeemed for flights on Alaska, which can get you to tons of cities across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica. But you can also redeem miles for flights to Europe, South America, Australia, Asia or the Middle East. Qantas Airlines, Korean Air, Iceland Air and Aer Lingus are a few of the partner airlines on which you can book seats with Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
How much are those miles worth?
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.
You travel with a lot of people and a lot of stuff
Normally, a checked bag on an Alaska flight will cost you $60 round-trip, but with this card you'll get it free for up to seven people on the same reservation. If you and six others fly together, that’s $420 in savings on every trip — a perk that offsets your annual fee more than five times over.
You like the lounge experience but don’t like the cost of admission
Normally, to enjoy the wide-open spaces and free goodies in an Alaska Airlines airport lounge, a traveler would have to pay $50 to get in. Cardholders pay just $25 for food, drinks and Wi-Fi (plus some peace and quiet).
The bottom line
Of course, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card comes with many of the perks common to other travel rewards cards: 1 mile per $1 spent on all purchases, 3 miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines purchases, no foreign transaction fees — and your miles don’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. So even if you never plan to go to Alaska itself, this card is worth a look.
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 2020, 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