Buckle your seatbelt and imagine me taking you by the shoulders and shaking you, because my story is going to be hard to believe.
You might have heard about people getting “free” round-trip tickets using credit card points, but maybe you didn’t believe it.
I mean, free round-trip tickets??? There has to be a catch, right?! I looked into it, and to book four round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines to Anaheim from Boise in January would cost me 60,000 miles, plus about $50 in taxes and fees. (I’ve done this before on Southwest Airlines, but they changed their policy so I gave it another shot with Alaska and boom! It worked!)
Turns out that if your credit is decent and you’re committed to paying off your balance every month, you really can score free flights anywhere for you and your family. (Doesn’t even have to be Disney.)
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Here’s how I did it (again):
Step 1. Sign up for an Alaska Airlines Visa credit card.
It doesn’t matter what time of year you do this, but I recommend signing up near the end of the year to take advantage of generous point offers during Black Friday and the best post-holiday travel deals. I signed up in September so that I would have my points ready to spend for January of the following year.
Note: You can’t sign up for this card if you’ve already signed up within the past 24 months. And, you’ll need to keep your credit card open at least until you’ve spent the points you’ve earned.
Other Note: When you sign up, you are eligible for one companion pass per year, which allows one co-traveler a $99 base fare plus fees ($20+) anywhere, with no blackout dates. You can’t use it if you book your trip with miles, but I thought I should mention it anyway.
The Alaska Airlines Signature Visa Card has a $75 annual fee. The annual fee is the first charge to your new credit card.
But you’re not even going to stress about that because, free travel. You’ll see!
Step 2. You must spend at least $2000 within 90 days.
In order to get those 40K miles, you have to spend at least $2000 on the Alaska Airline Credit Card within the first 90 days. I hit the minimum $2,000 spend by simply paying my bills with a credit card: cable, groceries, fuel, you name it. I got one point for every dollar I spent. I put everything I’d normally be buying on the card within the first 90 days to qualify for my 40,000 points at the end of those 90 days.
Step 3. Take advantage of Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan™ Shopping Program
With Alaska rewards, mileage earning stacks by shopping with their retail partners and using your Alaska Airlines credit card to pay. If you do both, you can earn anywhere from 2-20 points for every dollar spent! You can easily shop online by using their Mileage Plan Shopping Button, which connects to the websites of their thousands of retail partners and sends you alerts for bonus points.
Pro Tip: Make sure you link your Alaska Awards Account to your Alaska Awards Visa when you sign up.
As I mentioned above, I spent $2500 over three months. I earned extra points by shopping with Alaska partners with my Alaska Credit Card. Here is the breakdown:
- Kohl’s $500: Earned 2500 extra points for shopping during Black Friday/Cyber Monday (5x every dollar). Plus, I got a promo code for another 20% off!
- Walmart groceries: $500 in two months (1x every dollar). Earned an additional 500 points.
- Macy’s Cyber Monday spent $200 dollars (6x every dollar). Earned an additional 1200 points.
Plus, as I was shopping during a bonus miles period, I earned 500 bonus miles per purchase! Total 1500 points.
Total points earned through Mileage Plan Shopping: 5700
Total points earned on my AA Visa Card: 53,900
Step 4. I referred my sister to the Alaska Airlines Visa card and got 5,000 when she got approved.
Read: My sister couldn’t sign up fast enough once she saw that I wasn’t spending money on the card for anything more than what I’d normally buy with my debit card.
Total points from one referral: 5,000. Current total 58,900
Please note, KCL has not been compensated in any way for this article; we just wanted to help a sister out since travel is so dang expensive.
Step 5: Sign up for Rewards Dining.
Speaking of restaurants, I signed up for Alaska Rewards dining and earned a quick 1,000 points for a few clicks. Then, just by eating out at a local restaurant where we always eat and using my Visa, I earned 5x points on the bill for a total of 250 more points.
Running total: 60,150 points.
Step 6: Book four round-trip tickets to Anaheim using 60,000 miles plus $50.
You have to look at the fare calendar and search for tickets for this amount of miles, so be flexible. Got my free tickets to Disneyland! Now it’s time to get four more free tickets!
Step 7: Get 40,000 more points by signing up for an Alaska Awards Business Value Visa card.
The Alaska Awards Business Value Visa card has a $50 annual fee, plus $25 per card added to your first statement. To apply, you provide your U.S. based-business Tax ID or Social if you’re a sole proprietor, the usual address info, and gross annual sales and profit. You can link your business Visa to your personal Alaska Awards Mileage account or create a new account for your business; choice is up to you.
I easily hit the minimum spend of $2,000 in three months. Same story: all my company bills and expenses went on the credit card for a few months. I actually spent $3,350 in three months, but stacked the points again by shopping online through the button, paid with my AA Visa card, and booked a hotel using my Alaska Airlines mileage plus number. I ended up earning about 12,000 points on a hotel for four nights in Los Angeles and almost 10,000 points for shopping with partners/AA Visa and taking advantage of bonus offers.
Total points earned on my AA Business Value Visa Card: 61,756
Step 8: Back to Disneyland again!
We were able to get four more tickets by traveling off season, again! And, I also got two companion passes, one with each Visa card, so I was able to book a girls’ weekend for myself and a friend and a romantic getaway for hubby and me, paying only about $150 for each companion fare (at a savings of $700!). Plus, I earned 3x points for paying for the tickets with my AA Visa.