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Updated June 2, 2016

Alaska Airlines Credit Card Review

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The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card is an airline miles card with a nice annual perk: a single super-low cost companion fare from $121. Read on to see if the card is worth the $75 annual fee.

© BriYYZ (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Benefits

  • Introductory bonus offer: New cardholders get 30,000 bonus miles after they spend $1,000 or more in purchases on the card within the first 90 days. Just 25,000 miles are enough for a round-trip Alaska Airlines flight in the continental U.S., Canada, or Alaska.

  • Annual companion fare: One of the bigger perks of this card is the companion fare, which can cost you as little as $121 ($99 base fare plus fees as low as $22). To get this perk, you need to make at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

    Every year, Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cardholders in good standing will receive a Companion Fare Code within the first 2 billing cycles after the Anniversary date each year. This code must be redeemed within 12 months of the date of issue.

    If you are a frequent Alaska Airlines passenger and you plan to take someone with you at least once a year, this benefit makes owning this card worth it.

  • Free checked bag: Up to 6 passengers traveling on the same reservation as the primary cardholder may check one bag free on qualifying reservations. Qualifying reservations include flights on Alaska and Virgin America. This includes flights marketed by Alaska Airlines and operated by Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, SkyWest or PenAir (codeshare flights operated by other carriers are not eligible).

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • No expiration and no limit on miles earned as long as you keep the card active: The reward structure is pretty standard — you get 1 mile for every dollar you spend on purchases but you’ll earn 3 miles per dollar on qualifying purchases spent directly on Alaska Airlines and Virgin America. As long as you keep the card active, the miles you earn won’t expire, and there’s no limit to the number of miles you can earn in any given period of time.

  • Redeem miles on Alaska Airlines or partners: Cardholders can redeem their miles for flights with Alaska Airlines or their partners. Partners includes carriers like American Airlines, Delta, and British Airways, among others.

Drawbacks

  • Annual fee: It will cost you $75 per year to maintain your cardholder status.

  • Reward structure: The opportunities to earn more than 1 mile per dollar spent are very limited. Other cards offer more chances to double or triple the miles you earn on spending, even outside the brand.

How It Compares

It’s unlikely that you’ll want this card if you’re not a regular user of Alaska Airlines. Even if you do use it often enough, you’d be a savvy credit cardholder if you take the time to consider other cards to see if this one is the right one for you. Here are a few to consider.

  • Gold Delta SkyMiles Delta: The Gold DeltaSkyMiles from American Express, a CreditDonkey partner, has a comparable reward structure (this one gives you 1 mile per dollar spent on your everyday shopping and 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases), but with the SkyMiles card, you do get priority boarding and the privilege of checking your first bag for free on Delta flights. The annual fee for the SkyMiles card is higher at $95, but it’s waived for your first year as a cardholder.

  • American Airlines: Citi AAdvantage offers, for a limited time, 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. This card lets you enjoy preferred boarding on American Airline domestic flights. You also get the first checked bag free on domestic AA itineraries for you (and up to 4 companions traveling with you on the same reservation). There is a $95 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months).

    Plus, you can earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back (up to 10,000 miles each calendar year).

  • Southwest Airlines: Southwest Credit Card offers 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Earn 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary. You earn 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental partner purchases. 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. There is no foreign transaction fee. There is a $99 annual fee.

  • Hawaiian Airlines: The Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard's annual fee is higher than the Alaska Airlines card at $89, but the Hawaiian Airlines Card comes with some interesting perks. For starters, purchases at select partner merchants will earn you up to 10x miles per dollar spent. There’s also the ShareMiles program, which enables cardholders to receive miles from friends and family. Each year cardholders enjoy a $100 companion discount and a maximum of a $100 statement credit toward inflight purchases, and you’ll earn a bonus 5,000 miles in every year that you spend $10,000 or more with your card. If you’ll be using your next travel card outside the country, you’ll also want to know that this one has a 0% foreign transaction fee.

Interest rates, rewards, benefits and fees from published web sites as of 4/13/2015.

Who It’s Best For

© Frank Kovalchek (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

The major selling point of the Alaska Airlines card is the bonus miles and companion fare, which if used each year will help justify the card’s annual fee. Outside of that annual perk, there’s not much that separates this card from the other travel rewards credit cards — some of which have more generous rewards structures — unless you’re a frequent Alaska Airlines flier and will often be able to take advantage of the triple miles you’ll earn on Alaska Airlines purchases. In that case, you’ll be flying high with this card.

Leah Norris is a research analyst at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Leah Norris at leah@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped travelers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy financial decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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