Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Loves to explore places and experience new things
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
If you have good credit and frequently travel on Alaska Airlines, the Visa Signature card gives you a tremendous opportunity to rack up miles. It includes an annual companion ticket that alone is enough to offset the annual fee, especially if you use the benefit on a more expensive destination.
Alaska Airlines has lots of routes along the U.S. west coast, but doesn’t fly to every state; this card may not be a good fit for you if you live in a region that isn’t served by the airline.
Good sign-up bonus
Bonus companion ticket
High rewards-earning rate on airline purchases
Limited airline routes
Limited redemption options
- Good sign-up bonus: Depending on your departure and arrival cities, the bonus may be enough for two economy tickets or one first class ticket.
- Bonus companion ticket: After reaching the sign-up bonus and every year on your cardholder anniversary you’ll get a companion fare, which allows you to purchase a second ticket from $121 on any round trip coach itinerary.
- High rewards-earning rate on airline purchases: Your purchases with Alaska Airlines will earn 3 miles per $1 spent, which is more than many competing airline cards offer for purchases on their associated airlines.
- Limited airline routes: Alaska Airlines doesn’t fly to every state. Some travelers will be better served with another airline credit card or a general travel credit card.
- Limited miles redemption options: Mileage Plan miles are good for flights on Alaska or one of its airline partners, for hotel stays, and for vacation packages. You can’t redeem them for cash back, gift cards, merchandise, or anything else.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Sign-Up Bonus
You’ll earn 40,000 bonus miles after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. You’ll also earn a companion ticket (which you can use to purchase a round trip coach seat for someone traveling with from $121) after reaching the same spending threshold.
Based on The Balance’s analysis, each Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan mile is worth, on average, 0.8 cents. That means the sign-up bonus could be worth $320 of airfare, hotel stays, or vacation packages.
Earning Points and Rewards
You’ll earn 3 miles for every $1 you spend on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 you spend everywhere else. There’s no cap on the rewards you can earn. Your points don’t expire and they can even be reinstated up to one year after you’ve closed your account.
Each year on your cardholder anniversary date, you’ll receive a companion fare from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees). The companion fare allows a friend or family member to travel with you, airfare-free, on an Alaska Airline flight that you’ve booked on alaskaair.com (and paid for with your card).
Cardholders are automatically enrolled in Mileage Plan, and purchases help you reach elite status sooner.
You can redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for flights to over 900 destinations around the world on Alaska Airlines and with its global airline partners. Alaska Airlines allows one stopover per one-way travel on most tickets, which could allow you to get more out of your ticket if you’re creative in planning your itinerary.
Since the card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, it’s a great one to take with you while you’re traveling internationally.
If you’re planning to transfer miles to another airline partner, keep in mind that mileage rates can vary among airline carriers.
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 sign-up bonus, you’ll need to use the companion pass to maximize the value from this card. Use the card for all your Alaska Airlines purchases, including in-flight food, beverages, and Wi-Fi—they all earn bonus miles and you’ll get a 20% rebate on the on-board purchases. You may also want to buy the half-off Alaska Airlines airport lounge day passes for $25 each.
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.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature’s Excellent Features
You may be issued a Visa Signature card or a Visa Platinum card, depending on your credit. Cardholder benefits for those two types of cards vary; check your benefits guide to learn more. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature offers a couple of cardholder benefits that the editors of The Balance consider “excellent.”
- Airline companion fare: After reaching the sign-up bonus and every year on your cardholder anniversary, you’ll get a companion ticket, which allows you to purchase a ticket for someone else to come along on a round trip coach itinerary from $121.
- Free checked bag: Get one free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other guests on the same reservation paid for with your card. Alaska charges $30 for each flyer’s first checked bag, so that means a savings of $120 on a round trip for you and just one companion.
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.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature’s Other Features
- 50% off Alaska airport lounge access
- 20% rebate on in-flight purchases
This card is issued and administered by Bank of America, and that’s who you will deal with when managing your account. Unfortunately, in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, the big bank ranked seventh out of 11 national credit card issuers. It scored 798 of 1,000 possible points. The industry average was 806.
On the bright side, in addition to the usual suite of large bank services (24/7 customer support, a mobile banking app), the bank offers a free FICO credit score, updated monthly.
Bank of America provides industry standard security, including zero liability for fraudulent purchases, and alerts for suspicious activity on your card account.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature’s 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.