There have been a couple new offers for the Alaska Airlines Visa in the last week that I kept quiet about because they just didn’t seem very impressive. I’m still not sure most people in the Pacific Northwest should rush to apply. But I will explain why I’m not very excited.
In December there was a very good offer for 50,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 on a new Alaska Airlines Visa. Megan got the card and she’s already earned the miles. Ordinarily the best offer available for the past several months provides only 25,000 miles after spending $1,000 but also includes a $100 statement credit. You’ll receive this offer after booking a ticket on AlaskaAir.com, though you are welcome to try applying without booking (see the links below). I’ll call this the 25K + $100 offer.
The two other offers currently being promoted on travel blogs provide (1) 30,000 miles after first purchase or (2) 40,000 miles after spending $10,000 in the first six months. I’ll call these the 30K and 40K offers.
Which of the three offers you apply for depends a great deal on personal circumstance, how you plan to use the card and/or miles, and how you plan to meet the minimum spend requirements. When I discuss topics like Alaska Airlines or manufactured spend in particular I often try to keep a Pacific Northwest perspective in mind for the benefit of local readers.
25K and 30K Offers Are Roughly Equivalent
I don’t believe there is a significant difference between the offer of a $100 statement credit + 25,000 miles vs. providing 30,000 miles after first purchase. You can purchase the extra 5,000 miles for about $100 any time you book an Alaska Airlines flight using the Fly & Buy Miles feature during the checkout process. Sure, if you look at the opportunity cost of spending that $1,000 on a different card or the fact that 5,000 miles cost slightly more than $100 including taxes, it’s better to pick the 30K offer. But these differences are minor.
I expect most interested PNW readers are buying tickets already, and spending $1,000 in three months is very easy even for my tightfisted sister, who is still in grad school. The new 30,000 mile offer after first purchase is certainly better, but is not must have. If now is not the right time and you wish to wait before applying, I think you will be satisfied with the ongoing 25K + $100 offer.
Is the 40K Offer Attainable?
Now let’s compare the 30K and 40K offers. Scott Grimmer at MileValue provided an argument last week for why the 30K offer is better, using the logic of opportunity cost. Maybe you have the means and interest to accomplish $10,000 in spend (manufactured or real spend) in the next six months. Rather than devote it to a single card he recommends you take the lower 30K offer and apply that potential to many different cards and get more than one bonus.
I think Scott has a good start, but his reasoning applies best to those with a spending capacity at or below $10,000.
Where CVS and Vanilla Reloads are available, you could perform $30,000 in manufactured spend over 6 months. Add another $6,000 for Amazon Payments. Amex for Target adds thousands more. Multiply this if you can work with additional family members’ accounts. To these masters of manufactured spend, $10,000 is not spare change, but neither is it an intimidating goal. I think they can easily take on the 40K offer in addition to several other credit cards as part of a regular application cycle.
Even in the PNW, it’s possible to reach these levels of manufactured spend — the methods are just more difficult and open to potential complications. For those who live here, I think the 30K offer is probably better.
So if you don’t have the opportunity or interest to use manufactured spend very often, you should probably pass on the 40K offer. I’m guessing that even if you can reach $10,000 in daily expenses you can’t go much further than that. Like Scott says, apply for more than one card. I do not think it is worth the hassle to get an extra 10,000 miles.
But if you do make ample use of manufactured spend, then a $10,000 requirement probably isn’t going to stop you from applying for other cards. As some people have said, that’s two days at CVS. Take care of it and move on to the next card because my guess is you’re able to manufacture fare more than that.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card
Note that all of these cards have a $75 annual fee for the Visa Signature product. Applications approved with a low line of credit may receive a different card and fewer bonus miles. Don’t apply if you have low credit and are concerned about receiving a lower offer. Also be aware that all of these cards are targeted to different groups. Though you can still access the offer page, there is a risk the offer won’t be fulfilled. Take a screenshot when you apply if necessary to argue for the better offer.
25,000 miles upon approval and $100 statement credit after spending $1,000 in 3 months
Targeted to customers purchasing tickets on AlaskaAir.com
30,000 miles upon approval
Targeted to existing Bank of America customers
25,000 miles upon approval and 15,000 miles after spending $10,000 in 6 months
Targeted to existing Alaska Airlines elite frequent flyers
Disclaimer: None of these offers provide me affiliate revenue. They are provided here only for the purpose of comparison and your convenience.