I use our Alaska card for one real purpose each year. To fly to Hawaii with my wife and our two kids. My wife and I both have the Alaska Airlines credit card. Two card holders, two companion kids. But Covid has cancelled our Hawaii trip in all likelihood for the year. So, I cancelled my Alaska Airlines card.
Card Benefits of particular use to me
Free baggage on Alaska:
For many, many years I was always confused by people paying for checking luggage. Why do you need to bring this many things on the plane? I always carried on, it was faster to deplane and there was no waiting around at the baggage carousel.
Then I had kids. The kids needed stuff. A lot of stuff. Suddenly, I gazed at those baggage carts moving effortlessly through the check-in area enviously. I was too frugal to pay for the cart, but I wanted it. As I hopelessly pushed strollers and multiple suitcases at once while carrying a car seat and pack-and-play to the counter. Dropping all the baggage at the check-in counter like a marathon runner collapsing after crossing the finish line. It was terrible. At the counter, I would have happily paid to make this pile of luggage away.
With the Alaska credit card, you receive the first bag free for you and up to 6 guests on your reservation. 1st bag free is of small benefit for single people who can fit for everything in their carry-on, but can be a big benefit for families, heavy packers, or for particularly long vacations.
We use the companion pass to fly to Hawaii. The Hawaii award redemptions on most airlines are “expensive” from a point perspective and airfares are not bad, particularly when using the companion passes. With exceptions like using British Airways Avios miles from the west coast of US, the options are not great using miles from Seattle.
You pass $99 plus taxes (around $20) to use the companion pass. So, essentially, you need the airfare to be greater than ~$190 ($75 annual fee + the approximately ~$120 in airfare and taxes) to break even with the companion pass. We typically pay around $400-$500 per roundtrip ticket, so the companion pass save us $200-$300 per year per card to keep our Alaska Airlines credit cards.
Alaska has an annual fee of $75, due on card member anniversary date. I don’t like paying annual fees as a rule. Every annual fee has to have a purpose and a use case that is greater than the annual fee for me to keep the card. Unless the numbers pencil out that you are of greater benefit paying the annual, I don’t think it is worth doing. With Hawaii off the table, it didn’t make sense this year to keep it for the companion pass benefit.
Going back to the well
The current offers for Alaska Airlines credit cards is 40,000 Alaska Airlines points and a statement credit. This is subject to change, but the 40,000 Alaska miles has been relatively consistent for the signup bonus. At a value of ~1.5 cents per point, this intro bonus is worth around $600 in airfare. If I’m selective, I think I’ll be able to find 3 (of 4 needed) roundtrips for a Disney trip with the kids with the additional bonus.
So, Alaska Airlines credit card, I will see you again soon my friend.