Alaska Airlines May Be Cracking Down on People Applying for Several Cards in a Day…

I love my Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles. They’re about the only currency I’m tempted to buy when bonus offers are around.

  • They allow one-way awards on partners with an allowable stopover.
  • They have reaosnable redemption rates
  • You can book first class on Cathay Pacific and Emirates

Thomas W. points me to this Flyertalk thread and this one which suggests that Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is getting a lot more aggressive in its fraud department, shutting down frequent flyer accounts for suspected violations of rules.

  • Accusations of selling award tickets
  • Transferring in very large numbers of miles, such as from Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Applying for four credit cards (and receiving their bonuses) on the same day

Legitimate transfers will get sorted out, but it’s annoying not to have access to an account for some time.

Sales of award tickets will lead to real problems, I find it’s not at all worth getting involved in miles sales. I get asked the question of whom to deal with or will I do it all the time by people who want award tickets but don’t have the miles. And I won’t go near it. The last thing I want is my accounts closed, and the people I’ve supposedly ‘helped’ stranded without tickets.

What’s interesting to me are the reports of Alaska paying attention to and cracking down on ‘tricking’ Bank of America into giving them too many credit cards and too many bonuses. After all, Bank of America allows it and buys the miles from Alaska. Plus… it’s new and different.

I do not have direct knowledge or experience with this, or several reports from readers, but it seems prudent to proceed with caution here.

  • For years and years and years Bank of America would give you bonuses for their cards including the Alaska Visa, over and over and over.

  • Recently folks figured out that you could scale this even more than applying for a personal and business cards every 60 to 90 days. Folks figured out you could apply for, say, four of the same cards at once using different web browsers and simultaneous submissions. And get approved for all of them, and pocket all the bonuses.

Here’s what to do if your account gets audited. Bottom-line, if it isn’t an audit by Air France KLM Flying Blue, and you’re accused of something it’s because they know you’ve actually done something. It doesn’t help to deny it. But there are product ways to approach it.

But there’s a reason why you want to go slow much of the time. Some deals you want to take advantage of big and fast because everyone else will too and it will go away no matter what you do. But when you are building up a large mileage balance you don’t want to put it at risk. Personally even if Bank of America is approving multiple cards at a time, I’d still avoid that approach at least with Alaska products, at least until we learn more whether there’s a ‘new approach’ at Mileage Plan.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. One flyer talk post indicated that b of a does not buy miles from Alaska. Alaska handles all of the miles in house, and also receives the entire Annual fee, not b of a. ThIs would explain some of the intricacies of the alaska card, such as the lack of retention bonuses offered for it.
    If this were true, then b of a has been approving multiple alaska credit cards when it isn’t their bonus to give. Could explain some of the oddities surrounding this particular credit card.

  2. Different issue, but BofA declined me once and my wife twice (100 days apart) because of too many applications.

    I’m sure there were “too many” by any prudent standard, but no more than when we got the 8 previous cards.

  3. You can thank Captain Bowtie for basically encouraging people to apply for 4-5 accounts at once. This is why we can’t have nice things.

  4. I recently applied for 1 Alaska card but want to apply for a second one soon. How long do you recommend I wait? Is 30 days too soon?

  5. Is there a difference between every 90 or 91 days? Is this too aggressive ?

    (In my case sometime in the next year or two — I am not sure yet when — I will ship out to Mars for seven years and not be able to do any applications, so my preference is to err on the aggressive possible rejection side, rather than emphasize keeping the right profile)

  6. This is what happenes when certain asshole blogger talk about applying for 5 cards in a day, ruining it for everyone.

  7. @abc my proof of what? that bofa buys miles from alaska? see alaska’s sec filings. it’s a nine-figure buy, you don’t get that from just annual fees.

  8. While I wouldn’t apply for multiple cards over one day, isn’t bloggers and unnamed appliers providing PR to Alaska Airlines and the bank. IMHO, these latest restrictions might be the results of this administration and Congress ‘helping’ those who screw up buying a house, refuse to pay medical bills and probably forgiveness of student loans is in the near future.

  9. Gary, I’m curious what your thoughts are about sharing the other benefits that come with cards. I know selling miles is a no no but I’ve helped three friends by booking them on Alaska companion fares for 99 for travel with their significant others. Do you think this is likely to raise a red flag?

  10. @Andrea

    It really shouldn’t matter very much. Just make sure to credit your Mars mission to Alaska. You’ll have all the miles you need.

  11. Gary nice idea on the miles to Mars comment. Talk about a mileage run and way to get lifetime elite status. Too bad it might end up being with Virgin instead of Alaska 🙂
    Seriously, how many personal Alaska cards can a person have open at one time? I have three but got turned down about 6 months ago for another. I figured that I hit some limit.

  12. @DaninMCI it was probably more about total outstanding credit with BofA or some other issue than too many Alaska cards. I’ve seen folks with 8 or 10 between personal and business open at the same time.

  13. Hi Gary–I know it’s allowed but was curious if you thought consistently using up the certificates on different people might trigger some sort of crackdown. I’m sure they assume some % of breakage and aren’t too happy to give out discounted tickets. I’ve been happy to share them with friends because it was within the rules but in retrospect I’m wondering if it is more likely to lead to scrutiny or assumption of reselling tickets a la Flying Blue.

  14. @Gaurav I haven’t seen reports of that. Although using those for other folks could raise suspicion. I would make sure you know who you are giving these to, and they know you (where you live, whatever Alaska knows about you) and even how to reach you while they’re traveling just to be safe.

  15. I think my comment about earning miles with Virgin vs Alaska for a Mars trip on this ancient pre-merger post was very prophetic:)

  16. On my Alaska companion fare it states 1 of the ticket users has to be the card holder. How did you use it for someone else?

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