Until September of 2017, Alaska credit card issued by Bank of America (BofA) was easily churnable. In our world of miles and points, churnable means that you can get the same sign-up bonus over and over again. Last year, I was able to apply for 4 personal and 1 business cards simultaneously. I redeemed 70,000 miles to fly from Chicago to Hong Kong in Cathay First Class.
Like every bank out there, BofA changed the rule in September. According to this new rule, BofA will only approve you for two cards per 2 months, three cards per 12 months, and four cards per 24 months. Basically, you cannot apply for more than 4 cards in 2 years. You cannot get multiple Alaska cards at once. It’s not as easy to churn Alaska card but still possible if you apply once a year. Alaska miles are valuable for redemption to Asia. You only need 70,000 miles for one way with Cathay First Class vs 140,000 to 200,000 miles via United and AA miles.
For each card, Alaska offers 30,000 miles and a companion pass after meeting the $1,000 spend and paying $75 annual fee. I haven’t had a chance to use any of the companion passes, until now.Some girlfriends and I were planning a week-long vacation in Thailand to escape the winter in January; unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, it was canceled. As those dates were already requested off, I decided to take my mom to the next best destination, Hawaii. Having already been to Maui, I wanted to experience a different island. Fortunately, Mom wants to visit Pearl Harbor so I started looking at flights to HNL for our trip to Hawaii.
I initially wanted to redeem miles but it would cost 95,000 Alaska miles + $22 for two people. That’s not a good deal since I could fly to Asia in Cathay’s business class for 100,000 miles r/t. I’ll save the miles for an international trip. Another option is to redeem 50,000 Avios for two through British Airways but the dates I wanted were not available.
Grudgingly, I decided to search for paid tickets. Two nonstop flights from OAK to HNL would cost $964. By using the companion pass, I only paid taxes and fees for the second ticket. For two adult tickets, the total was about $524.
Having recently applied for SPG business card* and need to meet the hefty minimum spend, I used that card to pay. Otherwise, I would’ve used Citi Prestige card to earn 3x per dollar on airline tickets.
Unlike Southwest’s companion pass, Alaska’s pass can only be used once. That is why the Southwest’s version is extremely lucrative if you’re qualified for it. However, buying 2 r/t flights for two to Hawaii for $524 is not bad at all. I still have a few passes that can be redeemed next year.
Mom is quite excited for her first trip to Hawaii. This hobby has allowed us to travel together frequently for cheap. Since summer of 2016, we’ve been to London, Germany, and Vietnam. Now I need to decide on where to stay using my hotel points.
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Update: We ended up staying at the Hilton Waikiki Beach using the Citi Prestige’s 4th night benefit.