Is the Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card Worth Its Higher Annual Fee?
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The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card doesn’t get as much attention as co-branded American Airlines, Delta and United cards, but it should. The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card can provide excellent value to travelers who fly Alaska, despite recent increases to its annual fee. With the higher annual fee comes new perks like bonus categories, priority boarding, a bonus for Bank of America account holders and a lounge membership discount.
One of the first questions you may have about the card is whether it’s worth its annual fee. Here’s everything you need to know to answer this question for yourself.
What is the new welcome offer?
Get 70,000 bonus miles plus Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $122 ($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.
Previously, the bonus was usually around 50,000 miles, so this is the highest offer we've seen on this card.
How much is the annual fee?
The annual fee is $95, which is $20 more than it was before but it includes additional perks. For a card that comes with one specific high-value perk, described below, its $95 annual fee is still reasonable and in line to other co-branded airline cards.
Credit card perks
NEW: Priority Boarding
This new perk provides early boarding when you use your credit card to book an Alaska flight.
» Learn more: How Alaska Airlines boarding groups work
NEW: 2x miles on specific categories
The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card now offers 2 miles per $1 when you use it for gas, cable, streaming services, local transit, trains, tolls and ferries. This is a significant improvement to the card, as previously the card's only bonus category was 3 miles per $1 on Alaska purchases.
If you already spend a lot in the categories that the card is offering 2x miles, it could be a great way to rack up more Alaska miles.
NEW: 10% bonus for Bank of America account holders
Those who have an eligible Bank of America account will also earn a 10% rewards bonus on all purchases. So, if you have a Bank of America account and the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card, and you spend $500 a month on gas, instead of only earning 1,000 Alaska miles, you will earn 1,100 miles.
NEW: $100 discount on an Alaska Lounge+ Membership
Another new perk of the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card is a $100 discount when you purchase an annual Alaska Lounge+ membership. An Alaska Lounge+ membership costs $550 if you have elite status with Alaska airlines or $650 if you don’t.
The Alaska Lounge+ membership grants access to nine Alaska lounges and more than 90 partner lounges.
» Learn more: 4 things to know about Alaska Airlines lounges
Updated: Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™
One of the primary ways to get value out of the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card is by using Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™. This perk is available after you meet the minimum spending requirement.
New cardholder after Jan. 18, 2023 will need to spend $6,000 per year on the card to qualify for the annual companion pass. That's about $500 of spend a month, so if you’re regularly using the card, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Cardholders prior to Jan. 18, 2023, will continue to automatically earn the Companion Fare annually.
The Famous Companion Fare™ is an annual companion ticket valid for a round-trip (or one-way) economy ticket on an Alaska Airlines flight. With this perk, when you book your flight, you’ll be able to purchase your travel companion’s ticket from $122. Both you and your companion earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles for these flights, which must be booked using your Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card.
» Learn more: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Your complete guide
Free checked bag
Another perk that can help offset the $95 annual fee is a free checked bag. Cardmembers receive a free checked bag for themselves and up to six travelers booked on the same itinerary. A checked bag fee runs $30 for a single bag on a one-way ticket. So the value here can add up fast if you aren't already getting free checked bags from holding elite status with Alaska.
Discounted in-flight purchases
If you fly Alaska regularly, the discount on in-flight purchases is a good benefit of this card. When you pay for beverages, food and Wi-Fi onboard your Alaska flight, you get a 20% rebate back to you in the form of a statement credit.
No foreign transaction fees
There are no foreign transaction fees with the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card. If you are eager to earn Alaska miles, this perk can help because it means you can make international purchases without incurring a surcharge which can run upwards of 3%.
Who is eligible to apply for this card?
Anyone who doesn’t currently have the card or hasn’t had the card in the past 24 months. This restriction does not apply if you have the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card.
How to earn miles with the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card
Similar to comparable airline cards, the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card has limited mile-earning potential. Cardmembers receive 3 miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines purchases. All other purchases earn 1 mile per $1 spent.
» Learn more: How to earn Alaska Airlines miles
How to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles
You can redeem miles directly on the Alaska Airlines website or by calling reservations. Alaska is not a member of any of the major airline alliances and instead has individual partnerships with carriers including Japan Airlines and Qantas. Generally speaking, Alaska has competitive award prices when redeeming its miles to fly on its partner airlines award flights.
Examples of ways to get value with your Alaska miles include:
Redeem 70,000 Alaska miles to fly Japan Airlines first class to Japan one way.
Redeem 55,000 Alaska miles to fly Qantas business class to Australia one way.
Redeem 55,000 Alaska miles to fly Fiji Airways business class to Fiji one way.
» Learn more: How to redeem Alaska Airlines miles
Final thoughts on the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card
If you’re a frequent flier on Alaska, the increase in the annual fee from $75 to $95 is offset by the new card benefits: 2x on certain bonus categories, $100 annual lounge membership discount, priority boarding and a 10% mileage bonus for those who have eligible Bank of America accounts.
Plus, Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ is the name of the game with the Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card. If you can utilize the Famous Companion Fare™, along with its other perks, it’s likely you will come out ahead in terms of offsetting the annual fee. You can receive even more value by using the checked bag, discounted lounge pass and inflight purchase perks that come with the card.
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 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card