A choose group of airline bank cards tout companion certificates advantages. Usually talking, these perks let you convey a buddy or member of the family alongside at a steep low cost (or in some instances, practically free) once you guide a qualifying ticket. They’re typically issued yearly for renewing the relevant card.
However are these perks actually as nice as they appear?
On this information, we’ll give attention to one such profit and share precisely the right way to use the Alaska Airways companion fare provided on the Alaska Airways Visa® bank card and the Alaska Airways Visa® Enterprise card, together with some methods for benefiting from it.
Alaska companion fare overview
The companion fare on these playing cards is comparatively easy. For a set greenback quantity (plus obligatory taxes and charges), you may convey alongside a journey companion on an Alaska Airways flight.
You possibly can obtain a companion fare in two methods: as a part of a welcome bonus and for every year you maintain the cardboard. At the moment, the welcome provides for the non-public and enterprise playing cards are:
- Alaska Visa bank card : New candidates will earn 70,000 bonus miles, plus Alaska’s Well-known Companion Fare™ from $122 ($99 fare plus taxes and charges from $23), after you spend $3,000 or extra inside the first 90 days of opening your account.
- Alaska Visa Enterprise: New candidates will earn 40,000 bonus miles, plus Alaska’s Well-known Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and charges from $22) with this supply after making $2,000 or extra in purchases inside the first 90 days of opening your account.
Then you may obtain an additional companion fare for every year you maintain the cardboard. On the enterprise model, you may get this robotically every year; on the non-public card, you should spend $6,000 or extra on purchases inside the prior anniversary yr to unlock this profit.
It’s necessary to notice that the companion fare is just legitimate on Alaska-operated flights. Whereas Alaska has some terrific airline companions that offer you entry to some unbelievable award redemptions like Cathay Pacific top notch, you may’t make the most of the companion low cost on these different carriers — and this has remained constant since Alaska joined the Oneworld alliance.
Associated: How you can redeem miles with Alaska Airways Mileage Plan
Join our every day e-newsletter
The profit additionally carries some extra restrictions and objects of notice, as laid out on the service’s companion fare FAQ web page:
- Each you and your companion have to be booked on the identical itinerary on the similar time.
- The certificates is legitimate for coach journey solely, although the tickets are eligible for upgrades.
- The companion fare have to be redeemed on alaskaair.com by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on the expiration date, which is usually 12 months after being issued (although journey can happen after the expiration date).
- Each vacationers accrue miles on the tickets.
- There aren’t any blackout dates.
- You wouldn’t have to be one of many vacationers to make use of your companion fare. Nevertheless, you should use your Alaska card to pay for the tickets. (Extra particulars underneath “E-book for mates or members of the family” afterward within the information.)
In the event you’re nonetheless ready for the catch, let me prevent a while. There actually isn’t one; this perk really is a terrific possibility to economize yearly on an Alaska Airways flight.
Associated: Alaska Airways Visa bank card evaluation
When do you obtain the companion fare?
So far as timing goes, the phrases point out that the primary yr’s companion fare will put up to your Mileage Plan account six to eight weeks after qualifying for the sign-up bonus by reaching the minimal spending necessities. Nevertheless, once I added the cardboard to my pockets in 2018, I acquired the low cost code simply six days after my qualifying assertion closed, so that you hopefully gained’t be caught ready.
After yr one, the phrases point out that you just’ll obtain the companion code inside two billing cycles after your anniversary date, which (for some motive) “will fall roughly six to eight weeks after the date on which you initially open[ed] your bank card account.” Nevertheless, my expertise is a bit quicker than that timeline.
My private expertise of receiving the companion fare
I initially opened my account on July 3, 2018, so I anticipated my companion fare every year to reach in mid-to-late August. Nevertheless, every subsequent fare has posted a bit earlier, even earlier than the $75 annual charge hit my account:
- My 2019 fare posted to my account on July 29, 2019 — lower than 4 weeks after my account anniversary.
- My 2020 fare posted to my account on July 22, 2020.
- My 2021 fare posted to my account on July 21, 2021.
- My 2022 fare posted to my account on July 21, 2022.
My expertise has additionally proven that you just gained’t obtain notification of its arrival, so that you’ll have to periodically examine by yourself.
Associated: How we’re saving nearly 50% on airfare for our cruise to Alaska
How do you utilize the Alaska Visa companion fare?
When it comes time to really use the companion fare you’ve earned on the Alaska Airways Visa bank card or the Alaska Airways Visa Enterprise card, the reserving course of is comparatively easy. For starters, it’s necessary to notice that the profit takes the type of a reduction code that’s robotically deposited into your account. To search out it, merely log in to your Mileage Plan account, discover the low cost and companion fare codes part on the profile homepage and see you probably have a sound code.
The precise code will probably be a sequence of letters and numbers straight beneath the “Store” icon (which I’ve blurred out within the image under):
To start out the search course of, click on the “Store” icon to go on to Alaska’s search engine. The companion fare code ought to be robotically copied into the Low cost or companion fare code discipline (once more, mine is blurred out right here):
From there, enter your search standards and click on “Discover Flights,” and make sure that you solely have two passengers chosen. In the event you attempt to guide for greater than that, you’ll get an error message like this:
I realized this when attempting to guide a flight for me (the cardholder), my spouse and my daughter. To get round this limitation, I merely booked my daughter and me collectively to make use of the companion fare after which created a separate reservation for my spouse.
When you’ve initiated the search, the outcomes web page will flag eligible itineraries with a inexperienced icon subsequent to the value:
Discover the flight you need and click on “Add to Cart.” The abstract web page will point out that your base fare is the common worth, however your companion fare is simply $99 (or $0, in case you’re utilizing the first-year profit on the non-public Alaska Visa Signature).
Count on to pay at the least $22 extra to cowl extra taxes and charges in your companion, together with:
- U.S. flight phase tax.
- U.S. passenger facility cost.
- U.S. September 11 safety charge.
- Any state or country-specific charges (e.g., U.S. Alaska/Hawaii departure tax).
Within the above instance, the overall for 2 passengers involves $722.83. Nevertheless, if I take away the companion fare code, the value jumps to $1,174.40.
In different phrases, on this pattern round-trip itinerary from Orlando (MCO) to Seattle (SEA), the profit saves $451.57 — greater than six occasions the non-public card’s $75 annual charge.
How do you maximize the companion fare?
So how do you benefit from this companion ticket profit on the Alaska Airways Visa card? Effectively, it’s really fairly arduous to not get lots of worth from it. The non-public Alaska Visa Signature card carries a $95 annual charge, whereas the Alaska Visa Enterprise card is $70 for the corporate and $25 for every card on the account.
In the meantime, exterior of limited-time provides, your companion’s ticket will usually price $121 ($99 + ~$22 in taxes and charges). Consequently, you’ll have to guide a ticket with a base fare of greater than $196 to get extra worth than you’re paying.
This can be tougher on quick hops up and down the West Coast, however in case you’re seeking to fly additional — probably even to Hawaii — it’s fairly simple to discover a ticket at this degree to come back out forward.
Associated: The perfect time to go to Hawaii this yr
Nevertheless, there are a couple of methods to stretch the worth of this even additional:
Embrace an open jaw
Probably the greatest issues concerning the Alaska companion fare is that you just’re not restricted to a easy, round-trip itinerary. You possibly can guide a one-way ticket, however you’d most likely get probably the most worth through the use of it in different methods. The primary priceless different is to construct in an open jaw, whereby you fly into one metropolis and again out of a special one, permitting you to see two locations on a single ticket. This ticket would nonetheless be eligible for the companion fare profit.
To perform this, observe the identical directions above: log in to your account, go to the Low cost and companion fare codes part and click on Store. From the search web page, change from Spherical-trip to Multi-city and enter your search standards. The outcomes will once more present you that your companion profit is being utilized.
Let’s say you wanted to guide a flight from New York-JFK to the West Coast, and also you needed to fly into Portland (PDX) however then again out of Seattle (SEA). While you enter these parameters into the search fields, it means that you can mix these two flights right into a single itinerary and leverage the companion fare profit.
To get between the 2 cities, you can decide up a one-way rental automotive, take Amtrak or think about using the next technique for maximizing this perk.
Embrace a stopover
As a substitute of being compelled to “fill” the open jaw between the 2 cities within the above instance, you can fill it with a flight and embody a stopover. On this case, your itinerary turns into a flight from New York to Seattle with a stopover in Portland. When you do must pay in your ticket and any extra taxes and charges for the companion’s added flight, you’re extending the worth of the profit even additional.
Associated: How you can guide free stopovers with Alaska Airways Mileage Plan
Right here’s what the mixed itinerary would seem like:
In the event you eliminated the companion code, the value for this itinerary jumps to $1,280.42, providing you with practically $500 value of worth on a single ticket.
In fact, you can additionally mix an open jaw and a stopover to increase the worth even additional. For instance, let’s say you had been flying out of Orlando (MCO) and needed to go to Hawaii after which cease in Portland in your approach again dwelling. For the reason that Aloha State is such a trek from Florida, you need to go to each Maui and Oahu, and also you discover a low cost one-way flight between the 2 islands.
Listed below are your multi-city search parameters:
- Orlando (MCO) to Kahului (OGG).
- Honolulu (HNL) to Portland (PDX).
- Portland (PDX) to Orlando (MCO).
And right here’s a pattern of the itinerary you’d have:
This journey provides you an in a single day layover in San Diego, eight nights in Hawaii — break up nonetheless you’d like between the islands — and 5 nights in Portland. On this instance, eradicating the companion code would trigger the value to leap from $1,354.47 to $2,368.76, providing you with an unimaginable worth of over $1,000.
Now, I do know full effectively that this itinerary will not be a sensible comparability, however spending the equal of $700 per particular person for flights from Florida to Hawaii and again with a stopover in Portland isn’t too shabby.
Once I first acquired this card again in 2015, I really booked the same itinerary. We flew from Orlando to Maui (with an in a single day layover in San Diego), spent 4 nights on the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, flew again to San Diego, spent 4 nights on the Andaz San Diego, after which flew dwelling to Orlando. In that case, the companion fare saved us effectively over $750.
Now, it’s value noting that the phrases & circumstances of the companion fare state the next: “a number of stopovers not allowed.” Nevertheless, I used to be in a position to worth out an itinerary with two stopovers: Orlando to San Diego (stopover 1) to Portland (vacation spot) to Seattle (stopover 2) again to Orlando. The abstract web page indicated that the companion fare utilized to the complete itinerary.
Simply remember that this routing is technically towards the phrases of the companion fare. And it appears to be like like Alaska Airways could also be implementing this prohibition of a number of stopovers going ahead.
Associated: Maximizing Alaska Airways’ award routing guidelines
Contemplate a standing problem
A 3rd method to maximize the companion ticket is thru a standing problem. Whereas Alaska used to supply a straight-up standing match for elite vacationers from different airways, the service now provides you a three-month trial of the equal tier of Mileage Plan MVP standing. In the event you’re a higher-tier member of one other loyalty program, chances are you’ll even take pleasure in MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K standing, placing you in an excellent place to snag an improve and luxuriate in different perks in your journey.
Nevertheless, crucial factor to bear in mind is timing. As soon as your standing problem is permitted, you’ll have non permanent standing for 3 months — and you want to fly a specific amount throughout that point to take care of it:
- MVP: 5,000 miles.
- MVP Gold: 10,000 miles.
- MVP Gold 75K: 20,000 miles.
Consequently, remember to wait till your flight is lower than three months away to provoke the problem. That approach, you’ll benefit from the corresponding perks in your journey, and the ticket booked with the companion fare will enable you meet the necessities to increase your standing for the remainder of the yr.
E-book for mates or members of the family
This subsequent suggestion is one thing I didn’t initially understand once I opened the Alaska Visa the primary time round, however it may possibly actually assist if it appears to be like such as you gained’t be capable to use this perk in a given yr. Not like most companion ticket advantages, you do not want to be one of many vacationers to make use of it. This may increasingly appear shady, but it surely’s really spelled out on the cardboard’s Companion Fare FAQ web page.
One of many questions is, “Who can use my companion fare code?” and right here’s the reply:
“The Mileage Plan™ member who owns the companion fare code should both be one of many vacationers or the purchaser of the reservation. If the member is permitting two vacationers to make use of his or her companion fare code, then the member’s title should match the title on the bank card used to buy the reservation.”
One in every of our TPG writers did this for a colleague earlier this yr, saving him practically $700 on a transcontinental flight. I too have used this a couple of occasions for mates and colleagues once I had expiring companion fares that I wasn’t going to have the ability to use.
So long as you pay for the reservation utilizing your Alaska Visa card, that is completely permitted.
Associated: Maximizing redemptions with Alaska Airways Mileage Plan
Open two Alaska playing cards in your family
One other method to benefit from this perk is in case you take a number of annual journeys on Alaska or are reserving a single journey for 4 or extra vacationers. In the event you and your partner, companion or important different each open the cardboard, you’ll every have your personal companion tickets to make use of every year, and also you don’t even have to journey when utilizing it. Listed below are some examples of when this might work effectively:
- Household of 4: A single companion fare for a household of 4 would reduce the ticket worth by roughly 25% within the first yr; if each mother and father have one, the value will probably be slashed practically in half.
- Household of three plus a buddy: In the event you’re a household of three (like me), you can use a second companion fare to make a journey along with your child and permit them to convey alongside a buddy.
- Weekend with mates: Perhaps you’re planning a bachelor or bachelorette social gathering within the subsequent yr or two. By having a number of companion fares unfold throughout the group, it can save you some critical money for the journey itself.
- Two journeys as a pair: In the event you usually take at the least two round-trip flights on Alaska as a pair, you may leverage two companion fares, the place one pays for the primary ticket and the opposite pays for the second. We’ve got retired mates who journey to Seattle from Florida a number of occasions per yr, they usually every have an Alaska card for this very motive.
Maintain it easy
Lastly, chances are you’ll need to think about maintaining issues easy. You don’t have so as to add an open jaw, nor do you want to embody a stopover. Generally it makes probably the most sense simply to guide the flight you want and nonetheless get some stable worth from it.
That’s precisely the place I discovered myself in a few years in the past. We had been searching for flights across the holidays to and from Salt Lake Metropolis (SLC), and we managed to seize a unbelievable Economic system Net Particular on American Airways for the return leg. Nevertheless, the outbound portion was nonetheless up within the air — till I remembered that I had an unused companion fare (initially used for a flight on the finish of a canceled journey to Asia).
I booked a ticket for me and my daughter utilizing the certificates, although even with the low cost, it nonetheless set me again $566.20 out of pocket (because it was across the holidays). Nevertheless, once I noticed that the one-way ticket had dropped to $369 per particular person (thanks to cost monitoring on Google Flights), I modified the flight and acquired $84 again into my Alaska pockets — which will be put towards a brand new flight.
The whole price of the itinerary? $482.20.
Paying over $240 per particular person for a one-way, home flight hurts, however with out the low cost, the flight would’ve been $737.20.
By paying a $75 annual charge on the Alaska Visa card, I saved $255 — and that’s earlier than considering the free checked baggage we loved on the flight.
While you hear “free companion ticket” in relation to a bank card, you most likely begin picturing the entire restrictions that may stop you from utilizing a profit that appears priceless on the floor.
Nevertheless, the companion fare profit on the Alaska Airways Visa bank card and the Alaska Airways Visa Enterprise card really is versatile and easy to make use of on all method of itineraries, although you might be restricted to flights on Alaska steel.
In the event you’ve by no means thought of these playing cards earlier than, hopefully, this put up has proven you simply how priceless they are often.
Extra reporting by Ryan Wilcox.