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With the Alaska Airlines Visa, you can earn 30,000 bonus Mileage Plan Miles and a free companion fare just for signing up for the card and meeting the low $1,000 minimum spending requirement in the first three months. There is an annual fee of $75 that is not waived for the first year. However, the free companion fare from the sign-up bonus and the $99 annual companion fare can completely negate that fee when used correctly. The value of the bonus Mileage Plan Miles will vary greatly depending on which redemption options you choose. Today, I’m going to tell you how I used my sign-up bonus, how much value I got out of the sign-up bonus, and why I plan to keep the card after the first year.

Evaluating Value Ground Rules

When evaluating value, I only include the sign-up bonus, the amount of points earned from the minimum spending requirement, and any additional benefits or bonus points earned through perks exclusive to the Mileage Plan program. Everyone’s spending habits are different so I don’t want to confuse the issue with all miles I’ve ever earned.

I signed up for this card about a year ago. While I earned the same bonus miles as currently offered, I received the $99 companion fare rather than the free companion fare. I also earned an additional 5,000 bonus Mileage Plan Miles through a targeted offer to existing Bank of America customers. After hitting the $1,000 minimum spending requirement, I had at least 36,000 bonus Mileage Plan Miles and a $99 companion fare.

How I Used My Bonus Mileage Plan Miles

I used my entire bonus Mileage Plan Miles for first class tickets from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Orlando International Airport (MCO) on Virgin America for our Caribbean Cruise. I used the $99 companion fare to book tickets from LAX to Dallas Love Field (DAL) on Alaska Airlines for an upcoming trip to see my family.

How Much Value I Got From My Bonus Mileage Plan Miles

I found two first class one-way seats from LAX to MCO on Virgin America for 25,000 miles each. Those seats cost about $650 per person which gave those miles a value of about 2.6 cents each. My 36,000 miles from the sign-up bonus were worth $936 in this redemption! (The rest of the miles needed were transferred from American Express Membership Rewards through Virgin America to Alaska Airlines as I discussed here.)

I redeemed the companion fare for an upcoming flight from LAX to DAL for myself and my two-year-old son. The flight normally costs about $300 per person. After the $99 companion fare plus taxes and fees, we paid about $135 for the second ticket. That saved us about $165! (I also used my annual American Express Platinum Card travel credit to offset the cash costs of these tickets.)  

The Alaska Airlines Visa also includes one free checked bag for the card holder and up to 6 additional people on the same reservation. For our flight from LAX to MCO for our Disney World Vacation, that saved us $50 or $25 each way for my bag. We paid for my husband’s and son’s bags since they were booked on separate reservations. Our first class award to MCO for our Caribbean Cruise included two free checked bags each. However, I have not included that in this calculation since it was not due to a card benefit.

When you add all that up, I got almost $1,100 value out of the Alaska Airlines Visa despite the annual fee! The average value of my Mileage Plan Miles was about 2.6 cents.

The Math

Annual Fee -75
Flight to Orlando (Cruise) +936
Bags to Orlando (WDW) +50
Flight to Dallas +165
Total $1,076

Why I Plan to Keep the Alaska Airlines Visa after the First Year

I love Alaska Airlines. I love this credit card. So why would I cancel? Technically, the answer is to apply again and earn more bonus points. But, since I have an upcoming flight to Dallas, I will keep the card to take advantage of the free checked bag for myself and my son. That’s another savings of $100. ($25 per person each way.) Also, I’ll earn another companion fare on my card year anniversary. I will likely be able to save more than the $75 annual fee when using that discount code.