Holders of the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card should have received an email with a benefits update. You may have missed viewing the email due to the misleading subject line:
“Hi, (your name), the legal notices for your credit card account are now available”
Well, this wasn’t your typical “legal notice” email with terms and conditions of your account, fees and interest rates. Rather, this letter is an update on the benefits of the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card. There was one negative change that I consider minor. The rumored change to the annual companion pass did not happen which is great news. Again, if you disregarded the email due to the misleading subject line, I will cover the changes. Some of the changes are effective now and the rest will become effective in March, 2023.
The Bad News
There isn’t much in the way of bad news so I will get that out of the way now. The annual fee for the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card increases from $75.00 per year to $95.00. The increase may be offsite with some enhancement of benefits. There was a rumor a few months ago that you would have to spend $6,000 to receive the companion voucher. Thankfully, that was a rumor that didn’t come true. If you don’t want to pay the additional annual fee, you can cancel your account by notifying Bank of America by the deadline shown in your letter.
Enhanced Benefits Beginning Now
There is an increase in earning rate from one mile per dollar spent to two miles per dollar spent on select spending categories:
- Gasoline and diesel,
- Local transit including ride share,
- Cable and satellite television and
- Select streaming services.
The terms and conditions for these categories are:
You can increase your earnings by an additional 10% by having non-commercial savings or checking account with Bank of America.
You and your party of up to six additional people on the same reservation may be eligible for priority boarding ahead of the general boarding groups. First class and elite members will still board ahead of those eligible for priority boarding. If you don’t have elite status with Alaska Airlines or oneworld, this perk may be for you.
Enhanced Benefits Beginning March 2023
Alaska Lounge Access
You have been able to purchase a $60.00 Alaska Lounge day pass for half price with the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card. Alaska Airlines has been quietly discontinuing the sale of day passes in an effort to ease overcrowding in the lounges. You will be able to purchase an annual Alaska Lounge+ membership for $100.00 off. Alaska Lounge+ membership includes access to American Airlines Admirals Clubs. The regular annual price for Lounge+ membership is $650.00 or $550.00 for elite Alaska Mileage Plan members. This is a change in lounge benefit.
TIP: You may do better if you have a rewards credit card with an ancillary airline credit. My AMEX Hilton Aspire card has a $250.00 credit which can be used for lounge membership.
TIP: Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 100K members can choose a free year of Alaska Lounge+ membership if you choose the lounge benefit.
The cardholder and up to six companions on the same, qualifying reservation can each check one bag for free. This is pretty much the same bag benefit as before.
These Benefits Remain The Same
Alaska Airlines has kept the companion voucher the same. There was a rumor a few months ago that would require a $6000.00 annual spend to receive the companion voucher. Having a spending requirement would have killed the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card. The companion voucher is subject to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program rules. You can hold up to five Alaska Airlines Visa credit cards so you could receive an annual companion voucher for each qualifying credit card. The voucher is issued each year on your credit card anniversary and expires 12 months later.
TIP: Even though the companion voucher expires in 12 months, that means you have to book travel before the voucher expires. You could conceivably complete your travel 23 months after receiving the companion voucher.
MVP Gold 100K Choice Benefit
The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has announced a new benefit for top-tier elite members. Those members can choose one of the following:
- 50,000 Mileage Plan account miles or
- One year Alaska Lounge+ membership or
- One year of onboard internet or
- Gift MVP Gold status.
It is my understanding that Alaska Airlines will be sending an email on January 10, 2023 that will allow those members to make their benefit choice. I was told by customer care that once the Lounge+ membership choice has been made, that benefit should be available immediately. Again, this is what customer care told me so we will see how well that happens.
STORY UPDATE – MVP GOLD 100K CHOICE BENEFITS ARE LIVE, YOU CAN READ IT HERE.
Aside from the modest $20.00 increase in annual fees, the overall changes are positive for the most part. I can offset the additional annual fee amount by the increased earning rate for select spending categories and having a qualifying Bank of America account. For those reasons, this should be a wash for me.
If you have MVP status or higher, you already have the airport benefits so the additional enhancements here will help those card holders without elite status.
The Alaska Lounge day passes are already dead for the lounges located at Anchorage, Seattle and Portland. I suspect that more lounges will discontinue day pass sales to handle lounge overcrowding. The $100.00 Lounge+ discount is weak as many reward credit cards have a more generous ancillary airline credit that could be used for lounge membership. If you are an MVP Gold 100K member, you can choose a year of Lounge+ membership at no cost.