I received a survey from Alaska Airlines this week.  It was pretty in-depth in asking a lot of questions.  Most of the questions were directed at determining whether price, mileage earning, or upgrade chances had which priority.  Hopefully, this is not to gage whether people would go for the Basic Economy fares that the majors have adopted.  For me, the top priority was upgrade chance (and not to just Premium Economy!)

The more interesting part of the survey was the last part which asked about interest in a high value card at a high cost.  These have become pretty popular in the last few years and I have a few including the Citi Prestige (really miss not having AA lounge access now), AMEX Business Platinum, and waiting for 5/24 eligibility for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.  Note that Bank of America is notably absent from those offerings and are the issuers of the Alaska Airlines card.  The current card is one of the best on the market and even exceeds the value of some of the other high value cards even though its annual fee is only $75.  My wife and I will fly a $1000 flight to Hawaii or Costa Rica and we get that second companion ticket for only about $200 so that’s a $800 value every year.  I know someone who has ten of these cards!  That’s not even counting the value of the miles you get as a sign up bonus.

What could they offer with a premium level card?  Assuming an annual fee of $450, I could see the following:

  1. Companion Certificate, maybe more than one use a year?  This is the thing that makes the current Alaska card one of the best deals out there even if you rarely fly Alaska.  Counting the annual fee of $75 and the cost of the companion fare plus taxes (~$121) you can get any economy fare for free.  This literally means any fare, so BOS-HNL? No problem.  Fly to Costa Rica from Anchorage? Sure.  AND you both get miles for status and redemption!
  2. Airline ticket credit?  Lesser value would be airline fee credit.  Other cards are in the $150-$200 range and this is one of the easiest ways to justify the high fee.
  3. Mileage rebate for flights.  Maybe 50% (or a little less) back on mileage redemptions for either all redemptions or just for Alaska flights.  I think the later is more likely as getting 50% back from my upcoming Emirates redemption would be over 50,000 miles back.  Well, one can dream right?
  4. Access tot he Alaska Lounges.  This already costs me $295/yr. and that’s with the Gold discount.  This would be a great way to offset the fee.  Alaska Lounge membership also includes access to all American lounges and some United.
  5. An alternative to the previous one would be Priority Pass membership.  This would give you access to all the Alaska Lounges and many others around the world.  The only drawback is that a number of lounges close access to PP holders if their capacity is full.  This includes Alaska Lounges very notably.
  6. A 10% discount on Alaska fares similar to what British Airways does with their credit card?  I would get $200-$300 value out of this in a year since it would include the tickets I buy for my wife and daughter.
  7. Grant Alaska MVP Gold status with a certain amount of spend?  This would be too good to be true as MVPGold status save me a ton of money since it allows free changes to any ticket at any time.  Not to mention that I have been upgraded over 85% of the time as a Gold.
  8. What do you think?

It will be exciting to see a B of A premium product on the market.  Hopefully they won’t wait too long to roll this out.

Posted by glenn | 8 Comments

8 responses to “Is Alaska Launching a High Value Card?”

  1. DaninMCI says:

    Sounds like you want a Chase Sapphire Reserve as it offers much of that.

    I agree that it might be valuable for Alaska and BofA to create a new card. If I could design a high value Alaska card from BofA is would be like this:

    Offer 1 to 1.5 points per $ everywhere
    Offer something like .25 points per $ toward elite status EQMs. Or at least on Alaska spend.
    Free bags, duh.
    1 Free companion ticket to any class for $0 per calendar year
    Alaska Lounge access & Priority Club membership for Primary card holder & Guest/family only.
    Priority boarding (real priority boarding not like AA does).
    Some sort of rental car status or maybe a tie in with Silvercar to replace the Virgin Silvercar points per $ that will likely go away I assume.
    Reimbursement for Global Entry fee. This really only cost them like $20 a year.
    Fee of less than $500. In fact I’d try to limit the fee to something like $299 to draw customers but then limit a few of the items to control cost.

    • glenn says:

      @ Dan – Well if it wasn’t for 5/24, I would have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Won’t have that problem if B of A comes out with a new product. I like your suggestions.

  2. Gene says:

    First class companion certificate would be amazing!

  3. Daniel Kimberlin says:

    Some way to make gold MVP attainable for those of us that don’t travel for business would be nice and worth my money. Making the companion cert work for first class would be nice too.

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  6. Mike says:

    50% mileage rebate would be incredible but you are right, it would almost certainly be limited to Alaska only flights. Otherwise it would return most Emirates redemptions to the pre-devaluation mileage price. God would I love to be able to get US to Middle East award tickets for 90k miles again.

  7. Sharon says:

    I would like to see bonus mileage earnings 3x or 5 x on certain categories like groceries and dining or internet purchases like the old AT&T card offers.

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