A reader recently asked about how to visit Alaska on points- let’s do it! Years before I got into the points and miles game, I went to Alaska a couple of times because my daughter lived there while her husband did a pediatric dental residency. I went in the dead of winter once and hated it. Then I went in the spring and it was breathtakingly beautiful! Choose your travel times well is my suggestion when you visit Alaska on points
Our reader travels out of Saint Louis (STL) most of the time so we will use that as a starting off point. We will go to Anchorage and from there you can branch out to other areas. I looked at Google Flights to get some ideas on flights from STL. I see two that stand out. American and United so let’s check those two out.
Flights ranged from 55K to 130K. You have to look at departure times, connections, and flight times to decide what works for you. I want to get two of us there with just two sign-up bonuses (or SUBs) so I’m going for this one.
One of the craziest signup bonuses out there is The Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. By putting just ONE purchase on this card you will get 60,000 AA miles – Seriously! That will get you a roundtrip flight to Alaska. Have a friend or spouse do it, too and now you have a travel partner!
This isn’t nearly as dramatic as the other idea but still a good plan for flights. Right now the United Quest card offers you a flight to Alaska using United miles also after you earn 80,000 miles after meeting a minimum spend of $5,000 in 3 months.
Welcome offer: 80,000 United miles after you spend $5,000 in three months. You can earn an additional 20,000 United miles after spending an additional $5,000 in the first 6 months.
You also can look into the United Explorer card which has a welcome offer of 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months plus an option for another 10,000 miles if you spend a total of $6,000 in the first 6 months.
Let’s check out the return flights:
37K total roundtrip with $11.20 taxes and fees is my cheapest option on the days I chose. I could easily get 2 tickets with my one signup for the United Quest credit card. Through these two examples, you can see that it would only take one or two credit card welcome offers for you to use points and miles to visit Alaska.
Don’t forget, Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to United Airlines so you could also earn the points to fly on United from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which at the time of writing is offering an incredible 100,000 point bonus!
Of course, this is specific to someone coming from St. Louis. But, you can apply these same steps from your home airport. Check google flights to see which airlines offer flights to Alaska from your home airport. Then go to the airline websites and plug in some dates and select book with miles to get an idea of what you could expect to pay. From there you can figure out which card would be best for you.
Okay, let’s tackle some hotel options.
The pricing in the image above reflects a 5-night stay where one of the nights would be free due to Marriott’s 5th night free when you book 4 award nights benefit. I like these options because they offer free breakfast and kitchens to cook in to save more money on food. Each of these hotels is a category 5 hotel so you should expect to pay 30K, 35K, or 40K based on if you visit during off-peak, standard, or peak pricing. If you find dates for 30,000 points or 35,000 points you could use one of your Marriott annual free night certificates! There are seven other Marriott hotels to choose from and many have free breakfasts.
To use points to visit either of these hotels, you and your husband would each want to get a Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card with a high welcome offer. Right now the best offer is the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card which offers 3-50k certificates. But- I prefer to use those 50K for nights that are 50k so that I can get the most value out of them. I would wait for a better offer on a Marriott card if I wanted to use Marriott points for a hotel stay in Alaska.
There were some good hotels you could use points on in Anchorage and use that as your stopping-off points. Most had free breakfasts.
The Chase IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card will currently earn you 150,000 IHG bonus points after spending $3,000 in three months. That will get you 3-4 free nights with just one card. At IHG hotels, on award bookings, the 4th night is free! Keep in mind that IHG uses dynamic pricing so the prices in the image above may not reflect the current prices.
Hyatt has two hotels in the Anchorage area that would be great to stay at with Hyatt points. The redemption price is only 12,000 points and that is very reasonable. Additionally, you could use Ultimate Rewards from the current unbelievable Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to transfer to Hyatt and stay at either of these places.
For our reader, Debbie, Alaska is a destination you can use points and miles to visit. You may want to go off the beaten path and stay in towns that don’t have a chain hotels but at least your flights can be free. Be sure and spend some time in Denali National Park, visit the glaciers, and enjoy all the majestic wonderland that is Alaska! We can’t wait to hear about it!
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