What is Alaska Elite Status Worth?

Exact value depends on tier, but overall, Alaska dominates when it comes to domestic airline loyalty programs.

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Do you regularly fly Alaska Airlines? The newest member of the Oneworld airline alliance, Alaska features four levels of elite status tiers. But before you commit to this Seattle-based airline, you may wonder about Alaska's elite status value. For example, does it treat loyal members well?

So, what is the value you can expect from different levels of elite status on Alaska? Let's answer these questions — and more — down below.

How the value of Alaska elite status compares to competitors

Alaska is the clear winner when it comes to its elite status program. It came out ahead of every program we compared — even at its lowest levels.

Here's how elite status values vary across airlines, according to our most recent analysis.

Airline

Entry Tier

Mid-Tier

High Tier

Ultra-Tier

Alaska

$810.

$2,160.

$5,638.

$5,638.

American

$2,158.

$7,500.

$15,153.

$29,008.

Delta

$876.

$2,442.

$4,696.

$11,209.

Frontier

$400.

$1,113.

$2,750.

-

Hawaiian

$620.

$2,040.

-

-

JetBlue

-

$1,987.

-

-

Southwest

-

$138

$1,108

-

Spirit

$32

$910

-

-

United

$1,251

$3,494

$6,235.

$13,053

The value of MVP: $850

According to NerdWallet analysis of airline elite status programs, the value of the benefits provided by entry-level MVP status comes to $850.

However, the cost to earn this status comes to $2,400, meaning you'll need to spend this much money to get to MVP. This puts the earn rate for status at 35%, which means you'll get a 35% return on your spending based on the benefits you'll receive.

The value of MVP Gold: $3,520

Mid-level MVP Gold comes out much more favorably concerning benefits and the return on investment. As an MVP Gold member, you'll get roughly $3,520 in perks while only needing to spend $4,800 to earn it. This makes your earn rate 73%.

The value of MVP 75K: $7,256.25

Easily the most rewarding yet achievable status, high-level MVP 75K provides you with $7,256.25 in benefits. To earn this status, you'll need to spend approximately $9,000, making your return an excellent 81%.

The value of MVP 100K: $8,300

Alaska's newest tier, MVP 100K, provides about $8,300 in value, according to our most recent analysis. To achieve MVP 100K, expect to spend at least $12,000 for an elite earning rate of 69% — a complete 12% lower than the tier prior.

Moreover, this elite status level only provides incremental benefits over those offered by MVP 75K status.

The value of Alaska miles

NerdWallet values Alaska miles at a baseline of 1.2 cents each, meaning you should get at least 1.2 cents of value out of every mile you redeem.

However, the value rises dramatically when using Alaska miles for business-class redemptions. In this case, we value Alaska miles at 2.8 cents per mile.

Alaska elite status tiers

Alaska Airlines has four elite status tiers, the most recent being the MVP 100K tier, launched in 2022. Let's look at what each tier brings to the table.

MVP

To qualify for Alaska MVP elite status, members must complete one of two requirements.

  • Fly 20,000 miles on Alaska and eligible Oneworld airlines.

  • Complete 30 segments on Alaska or its partners.

Regardless of the method, you'll need to fly at least two Alaska-operated flights; you can't earn this status by flying solely with Oneworld partners.

What does Alaska Airlines MVP status get you?

  • 50% bonus on earned miles.

  • Alaska Lounge membership discount.

  • Elite leave for new parents.

  • Express security line.

  • First- and premium-class upgrades on non-qualifying fares starting 48 hours before departure.

  • First-class upgrades on Y and B fares at the time of booking.

  • Oneworld Ruby status.

  • Preferred seating.

  • Premium-class upgrades at the time of booking on Y, B or H fares.

  • Priority check-in.

  • Priority phone call routing.

  • Two free checked bags.

MVP Gold

To qualify for Alaska's middle tier, customers must fly 40,000 miles or complete 60 segments on Alaska or its eligible partners. You'll also need to have flown six flights operated by Alaska.

Benefits for MVP Gold status include everything offered by MVP status, plus:

  • 100% bonus on earned miles.

  • Companion upgrades to first class.

  • Complimentary premium beverage or chocolate in Main Cabin.

  • Complimentary same-day flight changes.

  • First- and premium-class upgrades on non-qualifying fares starting 72 hours before departure.

  • First-class upgrades on Y, B, H or K fares at the time of booking.

  • Oneworld Sapphire status.

  • Premium-class upgrades when booking on Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, S or N fares.

  • Standby and waitlist for full flights.

MVP 75K

What used to be Alaska's highest tier of elite status is now third within Alaska's program. MVP 75k can be earned after flying 75,000 miles or completing 90 segments on Alaska or partner airlines. You'll also need to have flown 12 segments operated by Alaska.

Members with MVP 75K status receive all the benefits of MVP and MVP Gold, in addition to the following:

  • 125% bonus on earned miles.

  • First- and premium-class upgrades on non-qualifying fares starting 120 hours prior to departure.

  • First-class upgrade on Y, B, H, K or M fares at the time of booking.

  • Four Alaska Lounge day passes.

  • One one-way international upgrade certificate on American Airlines.

  • Oneworld Emerald status.

  • Premium-class upgrades on all fares except Saver fares.

  • Three free checked bags.

MVP 100K

MVP 100K status is earned by — you guessed it — flying 100,000 miles on Alaska or its partners in a given year. Otherwise, you can choose to fly 140 segments, 24 of which must be operated by Alaska.

MVP 100K status is the most generous elite status Alaska offers and provides the following perks in addition to all the benefits offered by lower tiers:

  • 150% bonus on earned miles.

  • A complimentary snack in Main Cabin.

  • First- and premium-class bookings on non-qualifying fares starting 120 hours prior to departure, with the highest waitlist priority.

  • First-class upgrade on Y, B, H, K or M fares at the time of booking.

  • Premium-class upgrades on all fares except Saver fares.

  • Two one-way international upgrade certificates on American Airlines.

Should I earn elite status with Alaska this year?

Alaska should be at the top of your list if you're considering earning elite status. Even though Alaska's route network is limited, it's easy to earn status thanks to its strong partner network and inclusion in the Oneworld alliance.

Methodology

How did we calculate the value of each airline's elite status? With a lot of research and mathematical calculations, that's how. All of these are based on cost and the overall value of the benefits that accompany status.

Value of each tier

To find the value of each elite status tier, we considered all the perks that carry a clear value while omitting luxury benefits (like dedicated phone lines) that do not. Specifically, we considered the following:

  • Bonus miles earned.

  • Bag fee offsets.

  • Premium seating upgrades.

  • First-class upgrades.

  • Upgrade certificates.

  • Fee waivers.

Other individual program perks with clear value.

The *table below* explains these benefits as well as the assumptions we made in calculating their value.

Elite benefit

Explanation

Assumptions

Bonus miles

The number of extra miles or points earned for this status tier. For example, Alaska MVP members receive 50% bonus miles.

The traveler will fly the number of miles needed to achieve this status tier, and the miles are worth the value that we estimate here.

Bag fee offsets

The value of offset bag fees.

The traveler takes advantage of these offset bag fees every 10,000 miles flown.

Premium seating upgrades

Complimentary upgrades to economy plus, economy comfort, etc.

The traveler is upgraded once every 2,500 miles, discounting those times they are upgraded to first class. We estimate the value of these upgrades at $50 apiece.

First-class upgrades

Complimentary upgrades to first and business class.

We assume that higher elite tiers within a given program are more likely to be upgraded, with a maximum upgrade rate of 75% across all programs.

We estimate the value of these upgrades at $200 apiece.

Upgrade certificates

Complimentary upgrade certificates, such as American Airlines systemwide upgrades.

Since members can pick which flights receive upgrades for these, we peg them at a slightly higher value of $300 apiece.

Fee waivers

The value of change/cancel fees that are offset from holding the status.

Travelers change or cancel one flight per 5,000 miles flown (i.e., 10 times for 50,000 miles flown).

Other perks with clear value

Includes lounge membership, mile bonuses, etc.

Here are the raw estimated values for each program tier *table*:

Airline

Entry Tier

Mid-Tier

High Tier

Ultra-Tier

Alaska

$810.

$2,160.

$5,638.

$5,638.

American

$2,158.

$7,500.

$15,153.

$29,008.

Delta

$876.

$2,442.

$4,696.

$11,209.

Frontier

$400.

$1,113.

$2,750.

-

Hawaiian

$620.

$2,040.

-

-

JetBlue

-

$1,987.

-

-

Southwest

-

$138

$1,108

-

Spirit

$32

$910

-

-

United

$1,251

$3,494

$6,235.

$13,053

Cost of earning each tier

Airlines generally offer different thresholds for achieving each status tier, which can be broken into two categories:

  1. The number of miles flown.

  2. A different combination of factors, including elite qualifying dollars spent.

For No. 1, we estimate the cost of achieving each tier as follows:

The number of miles needed to achieve tier multiplied by the median cost of flown miles (12 cents, per a separate analysis we conducted). For example, Southwest requires that you fly 25,000 flown miles for Silver status, so the cost of achieving this tier is 35,000 x $0.12 = $2,916.66.

For No. 2, we estimate the cost of achieving each tier as follows:

The number of elite qualifying dollars is divided by the fare-to-cost ratio. The fare-to-cost ratio is a percentage value that represents the average "base fare" to "total cost" of airfare (83% per our separate analysis). For example, Delta Air Lines requires $3,000 MQDs, so the cost of achieving this tier is $3,000 / $0.83 = $3,614.

If an airline requires a combination of Nos. 1 and 2, we use No. 2 as the cost of earning because this is usually more difficult to achieve. In other words, it's rare to hit a minimum spending requirement without hitting the mileage requirement.

Here is the estimated cost to earn each status tier:

Airline

Entry tier

Mid-tier

High tier

Ultra-tier

Alaska

$2,400.

$4,800.

$9,000.

-

American

$3,614.

$7,229.

$10,843.

$18,072.

Delta

$3,614.

$7,229.

$10,843.

$18,072.

Frontier

$2,400.

$6,000.

$12,000.

-

Hawaiian

$2,400.

$4,800.

-

-

JetBlue

-

$6,024.

-

-

Southwest

-

$7,028.

$14,056.

-

Spirit

$2,000.

$5,000.

-

-

United

$4,819.

$9,639.

$14,458.

$21,687.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.


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