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 of their air 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! But if you’re looking to save on Southwest Airlines, we’ve compiled all the Southwest Airlines hacks that’ll save you some serious cash.
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.)
Of course, there are several other credit cards that can help earn you free travel, but we found that Alaska Airlines has the best deals for this hack.
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.
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 for the Alaska Airlines Visa credit card 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 on any flight for a $99 base fare plus fees ($20+) anywhere, with no blackout dates. You can’t use it if you book your trip with miles; money only.
You’ll also need to create your Alaska Awards Account to your Alaska Awards Visa when you sign up.
The Alaska Airlines Signature Visa Card has a $75 annual fee. Which will be 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: Spend at least $2,000 within 90 days to get 40,000 bonus miles.
In order to get a 40K mile bonus, you have to spend at least $2,000 on the Alaska Airline Credit Card within the first 90 days. I hit the minimum $2,000 spent by simply paying my bills with a credit card: cable, groceries, car payment, 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. It takes some discipline — you’ll want to pay it off ASAP to avoid interest fees — but it’s totally doable to get 2/3 of the way toward your free airfare.
Total points earned on my AA Visa Card: 42,000
Step 3: Join the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Shopping Program to get miles on all your purchases.
With Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Shopping Program, you can stack air miles 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.
As I mentioned above, I spent $2,000 over three months. I earned extra points by shopping with Alaska partners with my Alaska Credit Card. Here’s the breakdown:
- Kohl’s: Spent $500. Earned 2,500 extra points for shopping during Black Friday/Cyber Monday (5x every dollar). Plus, I got a promo code for another 20% off!
- Walmart groceries: Spent $500 in two months (1x every dollar). Earned an additional 500 points.
- Macy’s: Spent $200 on Cyber Monday (6x every dollar). Earned an additional 1,200 points.
Plus, as I was shopping during a bonus miles period (typically done near the end of the year), I earned 500 bonus miles per purchase! Total 1,500 points.
Total points earned through Mileage Plan Shopping: 5,700
Total points earned with my Alaska Visa Card: 47,700
Step 4: Refer someone to the Alaska Visa card to get 5,000 points then they’re approved.
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.
Total points earned on my AA Visa Card: 52,700
There are so many different refer-a-friend programs for credit cards and services that’ll save you hundreds.
Step 5: Sign up for Rewards Dining to earn air miles while eating out.
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 1,260 more points.
Total points earned on my Alaska Visa Card: 60,000 points.
Plus, if you’re getting groceries, you can use different credit cards that’ll earn you points and save you hundreds.
Step 6: Book four round-trip tickets to Anaheim using 60,000 miles plus $50 (per person).
You have to look at the fare calendar and search for tickets to find flights that only cost 15,000 miles each round trip, so be flexible. Got my free tickets to Anaheim! Now it’s time to get four more free tickets!
Now all you have to do is learn how you can do a Disney vacation on a budget.
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; the 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 Alaska Awards Business Value Visa Card: 61,756
Having trouble juggling credit card rewards? Here are our steps to getting more credit card rewards.
Step 8: Head 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 Alaska Visa.
Here’s a final breakdown of how I earned my air miles:
- Spending $2,000 on my Alaska Airlines Visa: 42,000 air miles
- $500 at Kohl’s which gave me an extra 2,500 air miles
- $500 at Walmart for an extra 500 air miles
- $200 at Macy’s for an extra 1,200 air miles
- 5,000 air miles for referring my sister
- 1,000 air miles for signing up for their Dining Rewards program
- 1,260 air miles for eating out
Which totals to 60,000 air miles. I also used my Alaska Awards Business Value Visa to earn an additional 62,000 air miles on that account.