I opened an Alaska Airlines Visa through Bank of America last year in order to get enough miles to bring my daughter home from Europe on American Airlines. One extra benefit this card offers is a yearly companion certificate. (Buy a coach ticket and get another ticket on the same itinerary for $99 + taxes–ends up being around $121 R/T. Both tickets earn frequent flier miles and are upgradable.) I was unsure if I would even use this. But remember, I’m frugal (i.e. cheap), so I hate to not use a great discount. The certificate expired on February 8. I knew there was no way I would take a trip by then, so I took to Twitter to ask Alaska Airlines some questions. (If you aren’t using Twitter as a way to get excellent customer service, you are missing out!) The AS rep let me know that I just had to book a ticket by 2/08 for flights within the next 300 days. And with Alaska’s very generous ticket change policy (best one I’ve experienced–no charge for changes 60+ days prior to flight), I knew I could make it work. Now, where to go?
This is typically where I run into problems. Not in finding somewhere to go, but rather in finding TOO MANY places to go! I could fly DFW-SEA-SFO-HON on ONE ticket, spending a few days at each location. I could fly direct to Hawaii. I could go to Cabo or Juneau. I could pick a single location in the Pacific Northwest. SO MANY OPTIONS!!!! Then it came down to “How many tickets?” If I decided to keep the credit card another year and pay the $75 annual fee, I’d have another companion fare certificate deposited to my account. So, in effect, I could take 4/5 of my family somewhere by purchasing two tickets. Decisions, decisions….(According to my Twitter conversation with AS, so long as I travel/pay for the fare, I’m golden.)
After looking at this from every angle, I decided to book a trip to Portland for me and my husband to celebrate our anniversary. Why Portland? The PNW is on my ever growing list of places I want to go. PLUS, when I googled it, there are an impressive number of waterfalls in the area. Big D loves waterfalls. There are also wineries (woohoo!) and whale watching along the coast. BOOM! Winner!! Booking was incredibly easy through the Alaska site. I found direct flights both ways for a grand total of $500.83: $366.20 for me, $134.63 for D. I could have found a cheaper flight, but flying direct and at reasonable times means more to me than saving $75. I filled out all the info, was about to click “pay”, and then magic happened. An “Apply for an Alaska Airlines Visa, get 25,000 miles and $100 statement credit” offer appeared, with a “get approval in 60 seconds” button.
But remember: I already have this card. That’s why I’m here in the first place. I’m not a card churner–someone who opens up several of the same cards just to max out bonus miles. But 25,000 AS miles that can be redeemed on A LOT of great partners across multiple alliances? PLUS a $100 statement credit after spending $1000? AND, if I’m approved, I can use it on this ticket purchase, getting me halfway to the spend requirement? What the heck. I clicked apply now, filled out the forms, and one minute later got my approval!
So now I have a new AS credit card with another companion certificate. Do I keep my original credit card when the annual fee comes due in March to get another companion certificate? Or do I cancel that one and just hold the new AS credit card? I don’t use these cards on a regular basis, although I’m not opposed to using them if there are some bonus categories offered at some point. What would you do?