People who spend tons of money on travel cards will earn more points and miles. But, the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare is an easy way that everyday people can benefit from a credit card perk without having to spend as much.
The Alaska Air Visa Signature card comes with a sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in three months. It also comes with the companion fare, which is simply a buy one ticket, get one ticket for $99 plus taxes and fees. But, for the first year, the companion fare is free, just pay taxes and fees.
The annual fee of this card is $75; however, the value of the money saved from the companion fare ticket once per year easily makes up the value of the annual fee.
Rules for the Companion Fare
1. Must be economy class
Gone are the days where you can get a great deal on Alaska’s first class product. The companion fare must be booked into economy class. With that said, elites are able to book into fare classes which could allow for an automatic upgrade at time of booking.
2. Must be used on Alaska Air or Horizon Air
The companion fare must be used on Alaska or Horizon Air metal. It won’t be eligible for flights on American or other partner airlines. This limits it’s international usage to Mexico and Costa Rica.
3. Can not be combined with other discounts
Because the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare is simply a discount code, you aren’t able to combine it with other codes or credits that you may have. But, this also means that there aren’t blackout dates – if there are two tickets available, you should be able to book them.
4. Flight still earns miles/benefits
Since it’s just a discount code, both travelers are still eligible for elite benefits as well as earning miles for the trip. If you have elite status, you will still earn miles + bonus elite status miles on top of it. No restrictions.
How to Maximize the Companion Fare
There are several tricks to maximizing the companion fare that I’ve learned over the last few years.
Domestic fares get the best value due to the low taxes. We’ve used the companion fare twice to go to Mexico, and while it saved us money, the taxes on those international flights were much higher than the typical $22 for domestic flights.
With no blackout dates, flying around the holidays has saved us a ton of money. My fiance and I each hold the Alaska Air Visa Signature card, so we have two companion fares to use each year. We ALWAYS use one for travel around the holidays when the cost of flights are inflated.
Hawaii might be the sweet spot for the companion fare. While it is possible to find a sale fare between the mainland and Hawaii, it’s still pretty spendy. Flights to Hawaii from the west coast tend to be on average the most expensive flights on Alaska Airlines. But, with no blackout dates, you will always get great value booking them with the companion fare.
Open-jaws and multi-city flights are possible using the companion fare. You don’t have to just book one-way or round-trip flights. You can book open jaws. This helps if you’re flying to areas where Alaska Airlines doesn’t have an extensive route network (e.g., the east coast). This summer, we are using the companion fare to fly from Seattle to Boston and then home from Atlanta to Seattle. We bought a cheap flight on JetBlue to get us from Boston to Atlanta.
My Alaska Airlines Companion Fare Redemptions
October 2016: Seattle to Puerto Vallarta (Roundtrip) – Saved $274.00
August 2017: Seattle-Kona, Honolulu-Seattle (Open Jaw) – Saved $588.71
July 2018: Seattle to Puerto Vallarta (Roundtrip) – Saved $199.00
December 2018: Seattle-San Antonio, Denver-Seattle (Open Jaw) – Saved $607.81
May 2019: Seattle-Boston, Atlanta-Seattle (Open Jaw) – Saved $496.01
They key to getting good value out of credit cards is to make sure you’re saving more than the annual fee. And, as you can see, you will have no problem doing this with the Alaska Air Visa Signature card thanks to its companion fare perk. Just remember, you’ll save the most money with the companion fare when you use it on domestic flights, as opposed to international flights, due to taxes and fees.
While we typically recommend cards that earn transferable points, the companion fare perk makes the Alaska Air Visa Signature card a no-brainer.
If Alaska flies on routes that you fly, the companion fare pretty much guarantees that the everyday person will save hundreds of dollars annually.