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How Do I Know If the Alaska Airlines Visa Is Right for Me?

Nov. 18, 2019
Airline Credit Cards, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card has a very specific target customer: someone who primarily flies Alaska Airlines. While miles can be relatively flexible, the welcome bonus is fairly standard: Get 40,000 bonus miles and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account. The real perk here is access to the annual Companion Fare.

Here’s what you need to know to determine whether the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is right for you.

You fly Alaska Airlines or their partners

When you pick an airline’s credit card, you should live near or fly at least once per year to one of the airline’s hubs. Alaska Airlines offers 1,200 daily flights in the U.S, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica. However, there are more nonstops from certain cities, primarily its Seattle base. Review Alaska Airlines’ route map to see if you want to fly where it flies.

If you don’t live near an Alaska Airlines hub, you can still get value out of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card. Alaska partners with 18 other airlines, including American Airlines and Emirates. This gives you plenty of options when it comes to redeeming your Alaska miles.

» Learn more: Alaska Airlines credit card review: Well worth $75 a year

You have someone to fly with

One of the biggest perks of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card is access to the Companion Fare. In the first year, you get a Companion Fare after meeting the spending requirement. After that, the Companion Fare is reissued annually.

Here’s how it works: When you book a paid fare for yourself, you can bring along a travel companion for just $99, plus taxes and fees.

The Companion Fare is only valid for travel on Alaska Airlines flights. You get the most value out of the Companion Fare if you fly long distances or during busy periods. For instance, the fare wouldn’t be worth it if you’re booking a cheap flight since it essentially “costs” $99 plus taxes and fees for you to use it.

If you don’t plan on flying with another person in the next year, you may be better off choosing a card with a higher welcome bonus and more options for earning bonus miles.

You don’t mind paying an annual fee

A $75 annual fee is pretty minimal, but there are travel credit cards with no annual fee. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has $0 annual fee and still offers a decent welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value.

When deciding which to choose, consider the minimum spending requirement and whether you fly Alaska Airlines. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card also doesn’t offer perks such as free checked bags or a Companion Fare. If you take advantage of the Companion Fare, you’ll easily get $75 worth of value out of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card.

» Learn more: Wells Fargo Propel AmEx review: No fee, so much value

You’d like to fly short distance flights on Alaska Airlines

If you fly frequently between Portland and Seattle or between California cities, the welcome bonus on this card could get you up to four round-trip flights. It takes as little as 5,000 Mileage Plan miles for a one-way flight under 700 miles.

You’d like to fly first class on Alaska Airlines

If you fly Alaska frequently, you may be more concerned with earning miles for first class upgrades. For eligible tickets, you can upgrade a reservation for 15,000 miles each way or 30,000 miles round-trip. The welcome bonus alone is enough for a round-trip upgrade to first class.

You check luggage

You can use the card’s free checked bag allowance for you and up to six people on the same reservation. The savings for two people flying round-trip would be $120. If you only pack carry-on luggage and don’t use the other benefits, this may not be the best card for you.

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 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best airline credit card for you
Why the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card Is great for frugal West Coast travelers
Alaska Airlines MVP elite status program: The complete guide

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