Alaska Airlines and Bank of America are offering 1,000 bonus elite qualifying miles for every $5,000 spent on the Alaska Airlines Visa between now and December 31, 2022. This appears to be a targeted offer via email to existing cardmembers, so not all will receive it. It could still be worthwhile for some.
It comes on the heels of a much more generous offer last fall when you could earn 2,500 elite qualifying miles for every $2,500 spent — a 1:1 ratio instead of the new 1:5 ratio. However, the old offer was capped at 20,000 elite qualifying miles over a brief two-month window. This new offer is unlimited and runs through the end of the year. It’s very similar to how the Hyatt Visa from Chase offers one elite qualifying night toward status with every $5,000 spent. You won’t easily earn status through credit card spend alone, and it’s not a great offer. But it makes the card more compelling than it was before.
It used to be that, as a general rule, credit cards didn’t help you earn elite status with the airline. Miles were classified as either elite-qualifying (good for status, but little else) or redeemable (good for awards, but not status). Credit cards, flying, just about everything under the sun earns redeemable miles — and still does. But elite-qualifying miles could only be earned by flying.
Now more airlines are blurring the lines. Delta has long offered a few thousand elite qualifying miles (EQM) with its Amex cards. American has started using credit card spend as a way to earn elite qualifying “loyalty points,” though it will take an awful lot of spend to get yourself all the way to Executive Platinum.
Alaska has long had a weak credit card in my view. As much as I love the airline the card isn’t good for much since it earns just one mile per dollar on non-airline spend and doesn’t provide many benefits you can’t already enjoy as a member with elite status. I keep it solely for the annual companion fare, which could potentially save a couple hundred bucks on high-value destinations like Hawaii and Latin America.
These recent offers to earn elite qualifying miles are tempting me to start spending more on my Alaska Airlines credit card, but only temporarily. To start including it in my regular rotation we need to see something more permanent. I mentioned the similarities to Hyatt’s credit card benefits. I have used my Hyatt card to cover large purchases in the past for this exact reason, and I used my Alaska Airlines card for a similar purpose last fall to maximize the offer. Hopefully this gets rolled out to all cardmembers and becomes a regular feature in future years. The current offer may be a test run before such a change.