American/Alaska alliance: Is it time to get an Alaska Airlines credit card?

Using credit cards of airline partners can sometimes make sense


Using credit cards that are associated with airlines you frequently fly can be a sensible way to rack up rewards. But it’s best if you investigate the cards from that most-used airline first.

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Dear Cashing In,

I just read that Alaska Airlines is planning to join the alliance that American Airlines is in. I’ve only flown on Alaska Airlines a couple of times – but I’m wondering if I should get their credit card so I can use miles to fly on American. What do you think? – Sebastian

Dear Sebastian,

It’s true: On Feb. 13, 2020, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines announced a new alliance that would integrate more of their flights.

Typically, when airlines do this, it creates a more seamless experience for passengers as they gain the ability to share frequent flyer miles across different programs.

Passengers are also able to book tickets to destinations that can be served by the two airlines together. For instance, if you are flying between the East Coast and Fairbanks, Alaska, you would probably fly with both airlines – American would get you most of the way there and Alaska Airlines would finish the trip.

In regard to getting the Alaska Airlines credit card, this alliance (and future ones) could definitely open some travel doors – as long as you see yourself using it.

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

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See related: Best airline credit cards

What to expect

In the particular case of this new alliance, you won’t actually see too much change. That’s because the two airlines already had an alliance to combine many of their flights for purchased tickets and award tickets. That agreement was set to expire on March 1, but now the airlines say they plan to renew and expand it.

In addition, Alaska is looking to join the oneworld alliance, which would connect it to additional international airlines. This means it will still be possible to sign up for the Alaska Airlines credit card and use Alaska miles for American flights (and eventually other oneworld airline members).

Here’s what you need to know about the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card:

  • Annual fee: $75
  • Sign-up bonus: 50,000 Alaska miles and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare starting at $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after spending $2,000 in first 90 days.
  • Rewards rate: 3 miles per dollar spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases, 1 mile per dollar on everything else.
  • Other perks: Car rental insurance, first checked bag free, 20% discount on in-flight purchases and no foreign transaction fees.

If you fly more regularly on American, it probably makes more sense to get one or both of the American Airlines credit cards by Citi or Barclaycard. But you can always collect Alaska’s MileagePlan miles to redeem on one or more Alaska partner airlines (like American).

See related: Which American Airlines credit card should you choose?

You have options

One strategy for gaining more frequent flyer miles is to sign up for cards whose bonus miles can be used on different airlines, which is the case with Alaska’s card. The British Airways Visa Signature Card is another card that offers miles that can be used on American and it has a healthy sign-up bonus.

The same is true with other airline alliances as well. For instance, if you want to fly on United, you might look at other airlines in the Star Alliance. Several have credit cards that offer miles that can be used for United flights.

Using credit cards that are associated with airlines in an alliance you frequently use can be a sensible way to rack up rewards. But you probably want to investigate the cards on your most-used airline first.

The Bank of America content of this post was last updated on September 15, 2021.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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