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As far as travel rewards credit card perks go, free companion tickets are usually at the top of the list. Although the companion deal offered through the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card is not free, at $99 it is still a great deal, especially with all of the flexibility that comes along with it.
The companion offer becomes available every year on the anniversary of your account when you pay the $75 annual fee. Considering your savings on a single companion ticket (along with a great rewards program and other travel perks), you might find the annual fee is more than worth it.
How the Alaska Airlines Visa Companion Fare Works
The first thing to understand about the Alaska Airlines companion fare benefit is that it is not issued as a ticket or a certificate. It is issued as a discount code, which shows up in your Mileage Plan account each year on the anniversary of your account (after you pay the annual fee).
When you want to use the companion fare, you log into your Mileage Plan account to access your discount code. When you click on the ‘Shop’ icon, you are taken to the search engine. As you search for flights, you will know if a flight is eligible for the discount because it will display an icon next to the fare. When you choose a flight, you will be shown a pricing page that shows your regular fare and the discounted fare of the companion flight. The discounted fare is $99 plus fees, which can total around $22.
The discounted companion fare is good for eligible Alaska Airlines and Virgin America flights. While there are no blackout dates, there are some restrictionswhen using the Alaska Airlines companion fare discount, including:
- The companion must be booked on the same flights at the same time.
- Travel is restricted to coach class, but tickets are eligible for upgrades.
- You have 12 months from the issue date of the discount code to use the companion fare.
Lots of Flexibility
That’s really it for the restrictions. With this companion perk, there’s more that you can do with it than what you can’t do with it.
Fly One Way, Round Trip or Multi-City
You can max out the value of a companion fare by stretching your itinerary to multiple cities. If you choose the multi-city option, you can travel to any destination that has the icon next to the fare. For example, if you are flying from Austin to San Diego, you can stop over in San Francisco along the way as long as you make Austin your return destination.
You don’t need to book a round-trip to use the fare, but you are not likely to get as much value from the Alaska Airlines companion fare on a one-way flight.
You Don’t Need to Be the Primary Traveler
If you want to book flights for friends or family members, you can make someone else the primary traveler and purchase a companion fare for another person. All that is required is that you, as the Mileage Plan member, purchase the tickets.
Upgrade to Any Class
You can only book seats in the economy cabin using the companion fare. But you can upgrade to any fare class, and the companion traveler is automatically booked into the same fare class. This is useful if you want to book an upgrade-eligible seat. Even though you might pay more as the primary traveler, the companion fare (which has to be booked in the same fare class) remains $99.
You’re Not Locked In
If your travel plans change, you can change your reservation, including dates and destinations, without affecting the Alaska Airlines companion fare. You can make those changes for free 60 days or more before your departure. You can also change to a more expensive fare class if you want an upgrade-eligible seat.
You Can Pay With Any Credit Card
While you are enjoying your annual companion fares, you will earn 3X Mileage Plan miles when you use the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card to book your tickets. However, if you have a credit card with better rewards, you may use it to make your purchase. For instance, if you want to use your Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can get 2X points per dollar spent on travel and, if you’re a new cardholder, work toward earning the $625 in reward travel.
For many of the “free” companion offers you can get from travel rewards credit cards, you often have to pay a hefty annual fee, though they do offer other top-tier travel benefits. However, many have restrictions on their use and virtually none of them have the amount of flexibility that the Alaska Visa Signature card offers. For $75 annually, it’s tough to beat.
Buy One, Get One Free Introductory Offer
Right now, the Alaska Visa Signature card has an introductory offer allowing you to buy one ticket and get one free (just pay the fees and taxes) when you use the card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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