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How to earn Alaska Airlines miles for the most value

Miles are tough to earn, but well worth the extra effort.

Updated

Fact checked

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a popular loyalty program that lets a little work pay off in dividends. Part of the work: earning your miles. This airline is among the few offering reward miles based on the miles you travel, rather than dollars you spend. For that reason, you might find earning sufficient miles more challenging than other loyalty programs. Here are the best ways to start building a cache of Alaska miles.

9 ways to earn Alaska miles

Earn miles with credit cards

Typically, a credit card is one of the most reliable ways to build points on a travel loyalty program. Unfortunately, credit cards that can earn you additional Alaska miles are slim pickings. In fact, this is one of the major reasons that earning miles on your Mileage Plan is so difficult: your earning options on the cards that DO earn Alaska Miles are simply far more limited than competing credit cards.

Take of example the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card. It earns 3x miles on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x miles on everything else. The earning rate isn’t the worst, but you still have to fly on Alaska Airlines to earn those points. Meanwhile, a comparable cobranded card like the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card earns 2x points at grocery stores in addition to American Airlines purchases.

Compare cards for earning Alaska Miles

Directly earn miles on your Mileage Plan account with eligible purchases using Alaska’s cobranded credit cards. Other credit cards also allow you to earn points that can be transferred to your Mileage Plan account.

Of note are the Marriott Bonvoy credit cards, which allow you to transfer at 1 mile per Marriott Bonvoy point and gain 5,000 bonus miles when you transfer 20,000 to your Mileage Plan account.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card
40,000 miles and companion pass after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days
3x miles on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$75
40,000 bonus miles after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card
40,000 miles plus companion fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days
3x miles on direct Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$50
Earn 40,000 miles plus companion fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days of your account opening.
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
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See terms
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Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
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Flying with Alaska Airlines or Alaska partners

You’ll generally earn one reward mile for each mile traveled on an Alaska flight. However, you may earn additional bonus miles depending on the type of fare you’re flying.

MVPMVP GoldMVP Gold 75K
Elite bonus miles50% bonus on miles100% bonus on miles125% bonus on miles
50,000 bonus miles on qualificationNoNoYes

Data obtained March 2019. Because values are subject to change, use data as a general guide only.

Alaska partners

You can earn miles with Alaska partner airlines, though your rates on earnings can differ from those applied to Alaska Airlines flights based on flight class. Also, not all miles earned on partner flights apply toward Alaska Airlines elite status.

Alaska dining program

Mileage Plan members can join the Mileage Plan Dining program to earn bonus miles when dining at participating restaurants.

Book partner hotels

You can also earn miles for booking stays with Alaska-partnered hotels.

HotelPotential miles
Alaska Airlines Hotels500–10,000 miles per night
Best Western250 miles per stay on qualifying rates
Choice Hotels250 miles per eligible stay
Coast Hotels500 miles per qualifying stay
InterContinental Hotels GroupVaries on suite; average is 2 miles per dollar
La Quinta Hotels250 miles per eligible stay
Marriott RewardsVaries on suite; average is 2 miles per dollar
Rocketmiles500 to 10,000 per night
Westmark Hotels2 miles for every dollar used toward accommodations; 1 mile per dollar spent on food and beverages

Data obtained March 2019. Because values are subject to change, use data as a general guide only.

Car rentals

Alaska allows you to earn miles when you rent cars with its car rental partners.

Car rental partnerMiles earned
Alamo50 miles per day on qualifying rentals
Avis40 miles per rental day on rentals of 1 to 4 days
500 miles per rental on rentals of 5 or more days
Budget50 miles per day on qualifying rentals
Dollar50 miles per day on qualifying rentals
150 miles per day on rentals of 3 or more days
Hertz50 miles per day on rentals of 1 to 4 days
500 miles per rental on rentals of 5 or more days
2,000 miles per rental at participating locations
National50 miles per day on qualifying rentals
Thrifty150 miles per day on rentals of 3 or more days

Data obtained March 2019. Because values are subject to change, use data as a general guide only.

Alaska shopping program

Earn additional miles by shopping through the Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping portal online. Additional miles earned through the portal vary by retailer.

Buy Alaska miles directly

Use your Mileage Plan account to purchase Alaska miles directly. The price of miles fluctuates but can cost as high as 2 cents per mile.

Mileage Plan deals

You can earn more miles than usual with special deals on services. For example, earn double miles when flying between Seattle and Tokyo as of March 2019.

Refer-a-Friend

Mileage Plan members can earn 5,000 bonus miles for each friend or family member approved for an Alaska cobranded card within 60 days of the referral date.

Bottom line

Alaska Mileage Plan‘s generous opportunities for earnings and wide variety of partner airlines make this program a solid choice for racking up miles. And if you take advantage of an Alaska credit card, you’ll find greater opportunities for earnings.

Once you’ve built up your mile collection, compare your redemption options to ensure you’re redeeming your miles for the best value possible.
How to redeem Alaska Airlines miles

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