Alaska Airlines credit card changes: New free bag requirement, bonus categories

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Bank of America has notified Alaska Airlines Visa Signature cardholders of changes coming to the credit card. The good news is that there will soon be some potentially useful bonus categories on the card. The bad news is that the annual fee is increasing and in order to get the tree checked bags benefit, you will need to pay for your ticket with the Alaska card. That’s a big bummer since many readers will prefer to pay using a card that offers trip cancellation / interruption / delay insurance to pay for their ticket rather than the Alaska card.

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Alaska Airlines Visa Signature adds bonus categories and requirement for checked bag benefit

A member of our Frequent Miler Insiders shared the screen shot above with changes coming to the card in March 2023. Key highlights include:

  • Increase in annual fee from $75 to the new fee of $95
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on gas, local transit, cable, and select streaming services
  • A 10% bonus on all miles earned if you also have an eligible Bank of America bank account (i.e.e you’ll earn an effective 2.2 miles per dollar spent on the bonus categories above)
  • Free checked bag benefit will now only apply if you paid for the flight with your Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card

There are a couple of other changes noted in the screen shot, but those above are probably most important for most people. The card will still feature its annual Companion Fare Code.

It’s great to see a couple of bonus categories on the card. While an effective 2.2 Alaska miles per dollar spent (for those with a qualifying bank account) will not be the best category bonus for gas spend, it’ll nonetheless be a decent return for someone who highly values Alaska miles.

Unfortunately though, I suspect that many readers will be disappointed with the requirement to use the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card to pay for their flight in order to receive a free checked bag. Personally, I always use either my wife’s Chase Sapphire Reserve or my Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa Signature to pay for flights or award taxes because of the excellent travel protections.

I wonder if it might be possible to somehow have your cake and eat it too by buying a cheap fare on your Sapphire Reserve card and then changing your itinerary to the flight you really want and paying the difference on the Alaska Visa Signature. Since you’ll have paid for part of the fare with the CSR (and possibly keep the same confirmation number?), I think the Chase travel insurance benefits would likely apply. I don’t know for sure whether you’d get the checked baggage benefit by only putting part of the cost of the ticket on the Alaska card, but I’d be curious to try it.

Overall, the main reasons to get the Alaska card will likely continue to be the welcome bonus and the annual companion fare code, but I’m sure that the loss of the easy-to-use checked baggage benefit will be a disappointment for those who live in Alaska markets on the west coast.

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[…] Alaska flights and Alaska lounge discounts, these changes are more noteworthy.As first reported by Frequent Miler, some changes to the personal Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card have already taken effect, while […]

Sheri

For the companion fare/ What about the 6000 annual spend? Is that just for new cards holders?

John

I am curious how the free bag benefit works for those who already purchased tickets months ago when there was no requirement to purchase the ticket using the AS credit card. I assume like most rules that one would still get the free first bag. But I kind of wonder how that might play out next August when I fly them with a ticket not purchased using the AS credit card.

KidS

Same situation here.

Mike Chicago

Received similar letter today for the Alaska buiness card. Interestingly the letter does not mention any increase to the annual fee. For the new 2x categories, the business card substitutes shipping for cable & streaming.

[…] first reported by Frequent Miler, some changes to the personal Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card have already taken effect, […]

[…] first reported by Frequent Miler, some changes to the personal Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card have already taken effect, while […]

[…] first reported by Frequent Miler, some changes to the personal Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card have already taken effect, while […]

Jim Dandy

Did the changes include sports equipment? We fly frequently with fishing rods and have never been charged. Flew Friday and there was no charge for our rod case. Sunday coming home it was a $40 fee (2nd bag).

Mark P

Given the new $100 Alaska Lounge discount, I wonder if my spouse and I (who both have elite status) could stack these card-based discounts with elite-based discounts and split the cost?

So a $650 Alaska+ membership is $550 for elite members. Then if we split the charges it would be $275 per person. Then if each of us have the $100 discount, it would end up being $175 per person. Great deal if this works!

Genah Ponaire

I love Alaska Air, it’s pretty much the only airline I use unless I go somewhere they aren’t flying, but I will never get their card as long as it’s through BofA.

Katie

First of all BofA has left Oregon and Washington ,second it should be 1 free bag automatically with purchase of ticket for travel from any type of payment, that’s discrimination to people that are not with BofA.

Mike

I live in Portland and am a five-minute walk to my BofA branch. Not sure they have “left” Oregon. And I think the hyperbolic use of the word discrimination is bit much considering all of the people in this country who experience actual discrimination. Just my 2¢

patti

Where to start

JustSaying

Just paid $70 for my son’s frequent flyer ticket baggage plus $105 just to have a plus seat. Alaska is so so dead. We’re just cashing in miles and walking away. If someone has a funeral and the only option is a 1200 mile flight we sadly won’t make it. Shame on you Alaska!

Dick Bupkiss

I’m sure Alaska will miss you terribly.

Boo Boo Bear

Like many others I am curious if these changes will apply to the business card. I have both consumer and business and have only received a notice for consumer card which specifically included the last 4 digits of my consumer card. So I’d expect that we’ll get a separate notice if business card is affected.

Last edited 22 days ago by Boo Boo Bear
Dick Bupkiss

I assume this is for the personal card, correct?

What about for the Alaska <b>Business</b> Visa card? Same changes?

Kitty

All these benefit cards have about a 50% higher interest rate

Rick

So? You pay off your cards monthly and never, ever pay interest.

Michael

1 more reason to switch as the only reason I kept this card was for the free bag bonus

Jenn

Since their Flight Change policy with 24 hour notice is so good, and optional flight insurance is available, it’s not such a big deal. $20 increase once a year is worth it to me. Free wine/beer, on the puddle jumpers theirs free plan side check for carryons. Long time Alaska flier and fairly long card holder, while I wish nothing was going up in cost, this is nothing comparatively.

Chad

I agree that $20 is not a point of contention. I stopped using years ago because using frequent flyer miles rarely Gets close to a dollar per 100 miles. The flights they want you to book have ridiculous layovers. And by the time you pay the fees, I almost always elect To pay for the flight because it just seems like a waste of miles. Turns out, there’s never a good use for miles! I now do all of my spending on Capital one, or my Barclay travel card. I like flying Alaska, but their rewards program Isn’t even close to competitive.

Veronica

what is ridiculous is that when you have a joint card and you purchase your families airline tickets only the purchaser gets a free bag… so my husband always has to pay for his bag even though his name is on the card.

Jenn

Not true…each passenger gets one free purchased bag.From their site…

Free checked bag for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation – that’s a savings of $60 per person roundtrip!

Last edited 22 days ago by Jenn
Chad

This doesn’t really affect me, but I am curious about this because my brother and his wife said that they just had this happen to them as well.

south aussie

Not so. My husband and i have assoc bofa cards and i always have recvd free 1st bag.

Zeke

Would split payments work to get the CSR and bag benefits?

Kukana

How will these changes affect Club 49 members?? We get 2 free checked bags for being full time Alaska residents.

Robert

Priority boarding is also new and long overdue. Multiple player households that keep the card should also benefit from associate cards also getting free bags and (new) priority boarding, which I believe is more generous than other airline cards that offer on primary only.

LCHammer

If you use Alaska miles to book your flight do you get free checked bags? If not, do you get free bags if you book with miles but use the Alaska card to pay the $5.60 fee?

Pat Skinner

I too would like to know if I get 1 free checked bag if I booked my flight using my Alaska card free milage plan.

Herbie

I have the same concern. Technically, an individual is required to PURCHASE a ticket with the AS card to get a free bag. In my lay person view, using AS points to get a ticket (i) is not a purchase, at least in the classic sense, nor (ii) is such acquisition made through the card (as one is merely drawing down from the points balance that resides with AS–not the card.) Given the drip drip negatives that have slowly been oozing from AS, I fear what he answer may be.
P.S. The same issue seems to exist with respect to priority boarding.

Matthew

The Ritz card is still visa infinite I think. Also, tree = free.

Sherry

A lot of places refuse to accept Visa, so I don’t have one. And it’s bogus with the mileage and non refundable tickets . Plus With that being said, Alaska will charge you extra if you are at your destination but want to go home earlier or later. Not fair

Alan Smithee

What kind of third world place do you live where Visa isn’t accepted?

NK3

I feel like the 2x bonus categories are weak. It seems like something they added for appearances, without it really affecting their bottom line all that much. I think I already have no annual fee cards with better returns in all of those categories. If companies really want me to keep their card in my wallet, these days they need to either give a higher multiplier, even if it is on a more limited number of categories (e.g. Wyndham Earner cards and gas), or offer a more unique bonus category (e.g. home utilities on the US Bank Cash+). I wish there was a good card offering a better multiplier on insurance, for example. I spend more every year on insurance than I do at grocery stores or on gas. Right now I have added earnings at grocery stores on 13 of 24 cards, and none for insurance.

Desperado

This card is worthless now. I closed it last month and transferred my line of credit to Air France BofA card.

No interest in flying cattle class unless the flight is under 2 hours.

All in on transferable miles + AA for airline.

Big Ern Mckracken PBA

THE FIX: Simply Fly F/C, 2 free bags checked

Sam

Or play the AA Loyalty Points game for OW status.

Linda

Don’t you still get 2 free checked bags with elite status no matter the card you use?

Alex

I guess we can get the free bags with easily manufactured AA Gold.

Julian

TBH, the only reason I’ve been keeping one Alaska CC open after getting the bonus is to get the free checked bag for Hawaii trips from the west coast. But that math has changed now and I’m not sure I’ll keep those cards open anymore. I haven’t paid cash for an Alaska flight in ages, so the companion fare is worthless to me.

Julian

I should note, the free checked bag barely worked when booking with BA Avios. So it was hit and miss anyway for me.

Sam

Do these changes apply to the Alaska Business card as well? Thanks!

Josh

I want to know this as well!

Tony

I don’t care about the new bonus categories, but I actually don’t mind the changes. Having authorized users traveling without the primary cardholder to be able to enjoy the checked bag and priority boarding benefits justifies the increased fee, IMO.

Last edited 23 days ago by Tony
Grant

Between my wife and I, we have 3 AS CCs, mainly for the Companion Fare codes. I’m glad those aren’t going away, they are just getting $20 more expensive each year (AF increasing from $75 to $95).

I typically buy AS flights using AMEX Biz Plat 35% rebate and never check bags, so I don’t expect any other changes to my AS travel plans.

If you book far in the future, AS flights are pretty cheap so the savings are not that great with the Companion Fare, but it has come in handy for last minute flights where it has saved us a few hundred bucks. Lastly, if you don’t book a simple round trip, you can actually use the multi city search feature to book 3-4 one way flights if you don’t visit the same airport more than once.

James

Last-minute is definitely useful, and the companion fare is fantastic for Hawaii flights to LIH/KOA when you need exact dates – those can be expensive.