Alaska Airlines has one of the best companion fares in the industry when you get their Visa Signature credit card. As I have written about many times before, there are almost no restrictions. You can book any economy class fare. You can upgrade it. You can earn miles. You can change the flight to something better (and if you’re MVP Gold, you pay no change fees.) Check out my complete guide to maximizing this companion fare’s amazing potential.
And since the companion fare cost just $99 plus taxes — plus the $75 annual fee for the credit card — there’s just about no reason for you to ever pay full price for your companion’s ticket if fares are above $250. My wife and I have several cards between us and save thousands of dollars every year.
A classmate at school warned me on Thursday that there might be changes coming to the card on May 1, but without more corroboration I felt unable to write a story on the rumor. It appears The Points Guy beat me to it.
The first year’s companion fare will be FREE!
More accurately, the first time you redeem your companion fare, the companion will pay only the taxes and fees. This means there is no $99 base fare. Some tickets could cost as little as ~$20, although flights to Hawaii are often closer to $50.
In future years, when you get the next companion fare after paying your card’s annual fee, you’ll still have to pay $99 plus taxes and fees.
Is This Actually an Improvement?
UPDATE: Alaska Airlines has confirmed that they are KEEPING the $100 statement credit for applications on the flight confirmation page. So this really is a better offer. Disregard what I say below!
This is essentially a modified sign-up bonus for the credit card and not a long-term change. The free companion fare will be available to new cardholders who sign up between May 1 and July 10, 2017. And, really, it’s not THAT different from existing offers available today. How so?
For a long time it’s been possible to create a dummy reservation on the Alaska Airlines website, and on the final payment screen there’s an offer to apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card. This offer, unlike offers available elsewhere, includes a $100 statement credit. I’m betting this statement credit goes away.
So if you no longer pay for a $99 companion fare, but lose a $100 statement credit, has anything changed?
Not really. But it’s a brilliant marketing move that will probably make the card seem much more attractive to new customers. Now that the Alaska/Virgin merger is moving along at full steam and applications are no longer being accepted for the Virgin America credit card, this seems like a well-timed offer.