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If you are a regular reader of InsideFlyer UK, you probably already know that I love Alaska Mileage Plan Miles. You might also know that (as a general policy) I hate buying Miles. When there’s a good sale on Alaska Miles, I therefore need to consider my options carefully, before deciding whether to bite or not.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who likes to weigh these things up, so thought it would be a good idea to crunch the numbers here.
Until 9th April 2018, you can buy Alaska Mileage Plan Miles with a bonus of up to 40%. My own bonus is actually lower this time, but we’ll use 40% as an example, in order to show that there’s actually a better way to buy Alaska Miles even if you have been targeted with the 40% bonus.
Alaska Mileage Plan Miles usually cost ~£21.50 ($29.56) per 1,000. With a 40% Miles bonus, you’re therefore looking at ~£15.40 ($21.10) per 1,000.
Given some of the remarkable things you can do with Alaska Miles, that’s not necessarily a bad deal – but we can do better!
Buy SPG Starpoints instead and convert them to Alaska Mileage Plan Miles
I posted last month about the current Starwood Preferred Guest promotion, where you can purchase ‘Starpoints’ with an excellent 35% discount. Starpoints normally cost ~2.5p (3.5 cents), so with the 35% discount, you’re looking at about 1.63p (2.275 cents) each.
With the 35% discount (at the current exchange rate) you can buy 20,000 Starpoints for ~£330 ($455).
The sale is on until 16th March 2018, so there’s still time to take advantage.
As usual, your SPG account has to be at least 14 days old to participate and you can only purchase a maximum of 30,000 Starpoints per calendar year (easy to get around if you want more)
Starpoints can be transferred over to Alaska Mileage Plan at a 1:1 rate, but you also get 5,000 bonus Miles on top when you transfer in blocks of 20,000. So, 20,000 Starpoints gets you 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan Miles.
In other words, you can effectively buy 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan Miles for ~£330, via SPG. That is the equivalent of paying ~1.32p per Alaska Mile, which can be a tremendous bargain if you use them smartly
Note that when you make a transfer from SPG to Alaska Mileage Plan, it usually takes a couple of days (and up to a week) for the Miles to end up in your account.
Get 11,000 Starpoints with the SPG American Express Card
If you prefer to earn your Miles through credit card sign-up bonuses, signing up to the SPG American Express credit card through a referral link (like mine here – many thanks if you use it as I’ll get some Starpoints too!) will net you a bonus of 11,000 Starpoints rather than the standard 10,000.
You need to spend £1,000 within 3 months to trigger the bonus once you get the card, but will earn an extra 1,000 Starpoints for that as the standard earning rate is 1 Starpoint per £1.
There’s an annual fee of £75 to bear in mind too, although you do get a pro rata refund if you cancel before the end of the year.
By purchasing your Alaska Miles indirectly via SPG, you can pick them up for ~1.32p, rather than the 1.54p each you would pay if you buy directly – even assuming you are targeted for a 40% bonus by Alaska. The 35% discount on Starpoints is open to everyone.
The other benefit of going down the SPG Starpoints route is that you have a lot more flexibility if you decide you’d rather transfer the Miles to a different airline loyalty programme (or need them to book a hotel).
I’ll be giving the Alaska Miles sale a miss, but will be stocking up on Starpoints before the end of the promotion.