Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card Review

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The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card, issued by Bank of America, offers strong rewards and travel benefits for an airline card with such an affordable annual fee. Just make sure you travel frequently enough to make it worthwhile.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card

Overall Rating
2.9
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 Introductory Fee for the first year. After that, $75.
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases. Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.7
for Fees
2.9
for Rewards
2.5
for Credit
3.7
Current Offer

Get a $100 statement credit + 40k bonus miles + a $99 companion fare (plus taxes and fees starting as low as $22). To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Who Is This Credit Card Best For?

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    Brand Loyalist

If you have good credit and frequently travel on Alaska Airlines, the Visa Signature card packs a valuable punch. Besides the opportunity to rack up extra frequent flyer miles in the airline’s Mileage Plan rewards program, you’ll get some valuable travel benefits, both as a new cardholder and on an ongoing basis. The value of the annual companion ticket alone may outweigh the modest annual fee, especially if you use the benefit on a more expensive destination.

If you only fly occasionally, however, you may want to consider other travel cards, perhaps one that awards miles for dining out, gas or groceries too. The fact that this card doesn’t award bonus miles on non-airline purchases makes it harder for less frequent travelers to build up their stash.

Pros
  • Triple bonus for new cardholders

  • Annual companion ticket

  • Solid rewards-earning rate on airline purchases

Cons
  • Everyday spending earns miles at a low rate

  • Airline cards have less flexibility

Pros Explained

  • Triple bonus for new cardholders: The 40,000-mile welcome bonus isn’t especially notable, but this card comes with two other valuable incentives that are pretty unusual among cards with similar annual fees. Besides the miles, you’ll get a $100 statement credit and the chance to buy a companion ticket good for one round-trip coach fare for just $99 plus taxes and fees, which start at $22. You can earn all three bonuses if you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days.
  • Annual companion ticket: Every year on your cardholder anniversary (after you pay your annual fee) you’ll get another chance to purchase one companion fare for $99 (plus taxes and fees) on a round-trip or one-way coach itinerary. This can be a very valuable benefit if you use it for more expensive cross-country flights that might otherwise cost at least $275 plus taxes and fees.
  • Solid rewards-earning rate on airline purchases: Your purchases with Alaska Airlines will earn 3 miles per $1 spent, as good or better than many competing airline cards with similar annual fees.

Cons Explained

  • Everyday spending earns miles at a low rate: Unlike some comparable airline cards, this one doesn’t award bonus miles on groceries, restaurant tabs, or any other regular spending categories. This makes it harder for more occasional flyers to rack up miles quickly.
  • Airline cards have less flexibility: While all airline cards bind you to a particular brand, they’re not the only way to earn frequent flyer miles. General travel cards from issuers like Chase or Capital One don’t usually afford you the same level of travel benefits, but you can fly on any airline you want and still earn valuable miles. Sometimes they can even be transferred to your favorite airline’s rewards program. 

Bonus for New Cardholders

If you make at least $2,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening, you’ll earn a three-part bonus: 40,000 miles, a $100 credit on your statement, and the option to get a companion ticket (which you can use to purchase a round-trip or one-way coach seat for someone traveling with you) for a base fare of $99 plus taxes and fees.

The 40,000 miles is a pretty standard bonus, but each mile is relatively low-value compared to other frequent flyer programs, according to our estimates. We’ve determined the 40,000 miles are worth $340—less than half the value of bonuses on some of the competing airline cards. Luckily, the other parts of this card’s introductory offer sweeten the deal, offsetting the relatively meager value on the miles. 

Based on The Balance’s analysis, each Alaska Airlines mile is worth, on average, 0.85 cents when redeemed for flights. Most of the major U.S. airlines have miles worth far more than this, in some cases over 2 cents each, according to our calculations. See our in-depth comparison of points and miles for more information.

Earning Points & Rewards

You’ll earn 3 miles for every $1 you spend with Alaska Airlines and 1 mile for every $1 you spend everywhere else. The triple miles is a pretty good rate, considering some cards with similar annual fees pay only 2 miles per $1 spent with their airline. Still, without other ways to earn extra miles, the card isn’t ideal for people who don’t travel frequently.

There’s no cap on the miles you can earn and they don’t expire while your account is active. If they expire due to inactivity, Alaska Airlines will reinstate them for up to one year for a fee.

If you fly Alaska Airlines, you may already be earning miles as a member of the Mileage Plan, the airline’s free loyalty program. But if you haven’t already joined, Alaska Airlines will automatically enroll you when you become a cardholder.

Redeeming Rewards

You can redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for flights to over 900 destinations around the world, taking flights on Alaska Airlines or any of its 18 airline partners, as long as they’re booked through Alaska Airlines.  These include American Airlines, British Airways, and Korean Air. Keep in mind that at 0.85 cent apiece, the average value of these miles is pretty low. The benchmark is 1 cent each, and we value frequent flyer miles from Delta Airlines at 1.54 cents each and from United Airlines at 2.19 cents each.

If you’re planning to use miles for a partner airline flight, keep in mind that redemption values can vary among airline carriers. Alaska Airlines allows one stopover on most one-way award flights, which could allow you to get more out of your ticket if you’re creative in planning your itinerary.

While there are no blackout dates, rewards seats may be limited on some flights, especially during peak times. You can only use one partner airline per rewards ticket, which means you can’t fly one airline to the destination and a different airline on the way back.

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Beyond making sure you meet the spending requirement for the welcome bonus, make sure to use the companion pass to maximize the value from this card. Of course, use the card for all your Alaska Airlines purchases to earn the miles (and to get a 20% rebate on inflight purchases). If you want to be comfortable, you should also take advantage of the half-off deal on Alaska Airlines airport lounge day passes. They’re $25 each instead of $50. 

Because this card earns only 1 mile per $1 spent on non-Alaska Airlines purchases, you might consider carrying a second rewards credit card that you can use to max out earnings on all your non-Alaska Airline purchases.

Excellent Perks

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card offers a couple of cardholder benefits that the editors of The Balance consider “excellent.”

  • Airline companion pass: Each year on your cardholder anniversary date, you’ll receive a companion pass good for a round-trip coach flight for just $99 plus taxes and fees (as little as $121 total). The companion must travel with you, on an Alaska Airline flight that you’ve paid for with your card. 
  • Free checked bag: Get one free checked bag on Alaska Airlines flights for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation. Since you’d otherwise be charged $30 for your first checked bag, that’s a savings of $60 per person per round-trip. 

On Alaska Airlines, pineapples fly free. You won’t pay a checked bag fee for “one properly packaged box of pineapples when traveling within the United States” from any of several Hawaiian island airports Alaska serves.

Other Features

  • 50% off Alaska airport lounge access 
  • 20% rebate on in-flight purchases

Customer Experience

This card is issued and administered by Bank of America. In J.D. Power’s 2020 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, the big bank ranked third out of 11 national credit card issuers, earning 812 out of 1,000 points.

In addition to the usual suite of large bank services (24/7 customer support, a mobile banking app), the bank offers a complimentary FICO credit score, updated monthly.

Security Features

Bank of America provides industry-standard security, including zero liability for fraudulent purchases, and alerts for suspicious activity on your card account. 

Fees

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card’s fees are in line with industry standards. There’s no foreign transaction fee, so take this card with you when you venture afar.

Next Steps
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CURRENT CARD
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card
overall rating
2.9
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0 Introductory Fee for the first year. After that, $75.
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases. Earn 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Our Methodology
At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Bank of America. "Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.

  2. Alaska Airlines. "Airline Partners." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.

  3. Alaska Airlines. "Alaska Airlines Celebrates Bay Area Bike to Work Day on May 9 With 'Bike for Miles' Giveaway." Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.

  4. Bank of America. "Terms and Conditions for Alaska Airlines Visa." Oct. 13, 2020.

  5. J.D. Power. “Customers Losing Faith in Credit Card Issuers as COVID-19 Pandemic Lingers, J.D. Power Finds.” Accessed Oct. 13, 2020.