How I Was Able to Save My Anniversary Trip By Ordering Lunch

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Alaska Airlines miles are arguably the most valuable miles on the market. Recently, I (against my better judgement) applied for the Alaska Airlines Business Card from Bank of America (you can read all about the drama HERE) and was unfortunately denied. It happens to the best of us.

Note: Credit card issuers have tightened their grips and it has been much more challenging to be approved for the small business cards.

Regardless, a few days later I received an email that my Alaska Mileage Plan miles would be expiring in 60 days. Prior to the pandemic, I had been planning a once-in-a-lifetime anniversary trip with my wife using my Alaska miles so suffice to say I have a few miles that I cannot afford to lose.

WHEN DO ALASKA MILEAGE PLAN MILES EXPIRE?

In comparison to other airlines, Milage Plan miles can be challenging to acquire. This is also what makes them valuable.

And according to the Mileage Plan loyalty page, “Mileage Plan miles do not expire and may be left in your account as long as the Mileage Plan program exists. However, if there is no activity (earning miles or using miles) on your account for 2 years, the account will expire, and your miles will be deleted.”

Upon inspection of my account, they were right and there had not been any activity in my account (earning or using) in nearly 2 years. Heck, it’s been 8 months since I’ve taken a flight at all, let alone an Alaska Airlines flight.

EARNING MILEAGE PLAN MILES

There several ways to earn valuable Mileage Plan miles including:

  1. Travel with Alaska Airlines – I’m not comfortable flying right now
  2. Make purchases with an Alaska Airlines credit card – I do not have an Alaska CC
  3. Fly with airline partners – Again, not comfortable flying
  4. Book hotel stays – I’m not traveling so booking hotel rooms is not ideal
  5. Reserve rental cars – It’s rare that I rent cars but this option may be worth it to save my miles
  6. Shop with everyday partners – BINGO!

You can also transfer points from Marriott (3:1 ratio) but I already had plans for my Marriott points.

I began exploring their shopping partners (#6) and realized I had been overlooking an easy fix…Alaska Mileage Plan Dining.

This is the basic concept:

  1. Enroll in Mileage Plan Dining and attach a credit card (or debit card) to your profile
  2. Search for restaurants, bars and clubs (there are over 10,000 so this shouldn’t be a problem)
  3. Dine and pay with your linked credit (or debit card)
  4. Earn miles for every dollar you spend

Ideally, you want to attach a credit card that earns bonus points for dining like:

  • Select Marriott cards – 10x points at restaurants (through Sept. 15, 2020)
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card [READ MORE] – 7x points on dining at U.S. restaurants
  • Citi Prestige Card – 5x points at restaurants
  • American Express Gold Card [READ MORE] – 4x points at restaurants (takeout and delivery)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – 3x points on dining worldwide
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 2x points on dining worldwide

Not only will you earn points from the credit card purchase but you will also earn additional miles in your frequent flyer account (Alaska Airlines in this case).

NEW MEMBER BONUS

Often dining programs offer a ‘new member bonus’ for enrolling. These offers often fluctuate but some miles are always better no miles. At the time of publication, my offer was “Dine in your first 30 days and earn 1,000 bonus miles.” Recently, I saw it as high as 3500 miles but I did not have time to wait for the 3500 mile bonus to return.

THE PLAN (AND BACK UP PLAN)

My biggest fear was the miles not posting to my Alaska account in time and losing my miles. It was further confirmed in the FAQ’s…

How often do miles get posted?

Alaska Airlines flight activity is updated several times during the week, and should post to your account within 7 days of the flight. Partner airline activity may take 2-3 weeks to post to your account. Non-airline partner activity may require up to 60 days to post to your account. We recommend that you retain all receipts and confirmations until the miles have posted to your account.

Mileage Plan dining is considered non-airline partner activity so it could take 60 days to post so I planned to attach my American Express Gold Card to my profile and order some food (which I was going to do anyway) as soon as possible because hours count.

My next plan of attack would be to transfer a handful of points from the Marriott program if the points weren’t posting fast enough.

MY EXPERIENCE

Here is the timeline of when my miles posted to my account…

Joined Mileage Plan Dining 07/22/20

1st Restaurant Visit: 07/22/20 for Lunch
Amount Spent: $8.91
Miles Posted: 26 miles posted on 07/28/20

Bonus: 1000 miles posted on 08/17/20

2nd Restaurant Visit: 08/17/20 for Dinner
Amount Spent: $50.00
Miles Posted: 150 miles posted on 08/25/20

FINAL STAMP

As you can see, the miles took less than a week to post to my account. I am so excited that the miles in my account have now been extended for another 24 months…because I went out to lunch.

The most surprising part of this effort to extend my miles is the second restaurant participates qualifies as an AMEX SMALL BUSINESS. You may remember THIS POST about receiving a $5 statement credit whenever you spend $10+ at a small business so I received $5 off my bill, supported a small business, and extended my miles.

In total, I earned:

  • 26 Alaska Mileage Plan miles which was the only thing I needed to extend my miles another 24 months
  • 1,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles as a bonus for ordering something
  • 36 American Express Membership Rewards Points (my linked card is my Amex Gold Card = 4x dining) and;
  • 150 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for a second restaurant which extended my miles another 24 months from that date.

Have you ever used this strategy to extend (or rack up more) miles?

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