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Introduction Image for: ALASKA MILES - ENJOY UP TO 40% MORE

Miles Are on Sale With a Bonus Until March 31, 2016! It Must Be a Good Deal - or Is It?

Expiration Date – March 31, 2016

Alaska Airlines is offering up to a 40% bonus to buy or gift miles until March 31, 2016. But even with a bonus, buying miles doesn’t usually make sense. And we’ll show you why.

Alaska Airlines bonuses are typically offered on tiered purchase levels and this sale is no different. The more you buy, the larger the bonus - up to 40%. Miles are available in increments of 1,000, all the way up to 40,000 miles before the bonus.

Mileage Plan members enjoy these bonuses:

  • 20% bonus on 15,000-19,000 miles (2.46 cents per mile)

  • 30% bonus on 20,000-39,000 miles (2.23 cents per mile)

  • 40% bonus on 40,000 miles (2.11 cents per mile)

The bonus prices above include a 7.5% excise tax but not the GST/HST for Canadian residents. Without a sale, Mileage Plan miles cost 2.96 cents per mile to buy.

As you know from prior trvlvip Perks and Tips, we believe the value of an Alaska Mileage Plan mile is 2 cents per mile, which is the value we would be willing to pay for Mileage Plan miles if we could buy them for cash. It is also the minimum value we feel you should expect before redeeming your miles.

So even if you buy miles with a 40% bonus, equating to 2.11 cents per mile, you will pay a bit more than what we believe Mileage Plans miles are worth at 2 cents per mile.

The Choice:

Does it ever make good financial sense to buy or gift Mileage Plan miles? Maybe – but typically only in these scenarios:

  • You plan to purchase miles in order to secure a specific award flight during a discounted award promotion

  • You plan to secure a Business or First Class award ticket

Here is a quick calculation you can use to determine deal value:

  1. Find an award ticket.

  2. Determine the full price of that ticket if you were to pay cash, including all taxes and fees.

  3. Add to that amount any taxes and fees you will be required to pay on the award ticket.

  4. Divide that amount by the number of miles required.

  5. If the value per mile exceeds the amount you have to pay to buy the miles then you’ve found a good deal and if not, we don’t suggest you buy the miles.

Remember, purchased miles will not count toward Mileage Plan Elite qualification.

The Wrap-Up:

It rarely makes sense to buy or gift miles speculatively as it is an expensive way to acquire miles even with a discount or bonus. Once, you’ve picked a location and your dates and have taken the steps to ensure award availability, make the small effort to crunch the numbers to make sure the mile purchase makes good economic sense - you will be very happy you did!

Click here for more information on booking awards with Alaska Airlines.

And a great alternative to purchasing miles to gift to another person is to book them an award ticket using your miles. That is a much more economical choice.

Want to look a bit deeper into the option to purchase, gift or share miles with or without a bonus offer when using the Fly & Buy option or the option to buy and share miles anytime? See our great tip: Alaska Airlines - Pros & Cons of Buying and Gifting Miles.

If trvlvip helped you gain a better understanding about buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles on sale, we’d love a nice note on Facebook and Twitter!

And if you'd like to be alerted whenever Alaska has a great promotion, Perk or Tip, register for complimentary alerts!