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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