Amazing: Use Alaska Airlines Wallet Funds To Buy Miles At 1 Cent Each

Several airlines have allowed customers to convert cancelled ticket values into miles. The most useful so far for U.S. members has been the ability to transfer flight credits to miles with Southwest Airlines.

Alaska Airlines though has the most lucrative conversion offer to date and they’re running it for a second time: convert unused travel funds to miles at a rate of 10,000 miles per $100. In other words you can take unused ticket value and buy miles at just 1 cent apiece.

  • You can choose to convert 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of your wallet balance
  • You have until Friday November 13 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time to act

Very Valuable Opportunity

This counts as account activity to extend the expiration date of your miles (Alaska miles expire after 24 months of account inactivity).

Alaska miles are worth more than many other currencies, because their award charts are reasonable in many cases, they have great partners, and even permit a stopover on a one-way award for no additional points.

U.S. to South Asia via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, for instance, costs just 50,000 miles (which would be $500 in wallet funds converted to miles). Cathay Pacific first class is just 70,000 miles one-way.


Cathay Pacific First Class

I’d be a buyer of Alaska miles at 1.5 cents, I think. I’ve bought them in the past at 2 cents albeit with a specific redemption I was about to make. I would jump at the chance to load up on Alaska miles at just 1 cent apiece. Unfortunately I don’t have any unused travel credits from cancelled trips to use to participate myself.

Alaska is clear that tickets purchased and cancelled while the promotion is active won’t be eligible so there’s not a way to game this (assuming this rule is enforced). Of course they ran this promotion before, if you knew they were going to do it again you could buy tickets now, cancel the itinerary and wait for the next round (which of course may not come).

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Thanks for the link, Gary. We updated our post about 40 minutes ago because I noticed that Miles to Memories had confirmed the same as you with Alaska.

  2. Sorry to be ‘that guy’ but it would seem as though now is NOT a good time to be speculatively buying, regardless (barring insanely good deals) of how good a deal it is. A few notes:
    1. AS is desperate for cash right now. Once people buy en-masse they can devalue at any time.
    2. They have a fantastic, pre-packaged pretext for devaluation; namely, when they join oneworld they can upend their FF program. EK and other non OW transfer partners can be nixed (or devalued significantly), and they can introduce a new oneworld award chart that devalues all these awards (or maybe even adds fuel surcharges).

    Again, this is a very good deal on the face of it, but let’s temper the enthusiasm. There’s plenty of risk attached.

  3. Thanks for the tip. I knew AS had tried this on an invite-only basis last month but this is open to all. Given the ongoing COVID situation, and living in Canada, I’ve had to several times cancel AS flights I’d booked for trips that I could not take. So my Wallet was not of much value if it expired before I could book and fly by early next year, but my miles (99K) will still be beyond then. So I’ve converted the $s to miles. Just to clarify, your posting implies (at least my reading) this can only be done in multiples of 10K but actually the full amount can be converted on a dollar per mile basis. As for possible devaluation, I’ll take my chances but better than losing a few hundred dollars outright.

  4. Thanks for the tip! I converted some Wallet $ into miles, so I can visit my friends in Seattle whenever we can really travel again.

  5. @Gary – Can’t we use the latest Costco deal to buy Alaska gift card, load in into the wallet and then use it to buy miles? With the Costco discount, it will be 0.9 cents a mile.

  6. @Savvydesi – I believe additions to the wallet after the start of the promo can’t be converted to miles under this deal, please someone correct me if there’s somehow a Loophole I am not aware of..!

  7. @gary also would it not be potentially smart to get an AS gift card and load to to your account since it’s possible they may run the promo a third time.

  8. Just ran a test comparison and I find some discrepancies between cash cost and mileage award cost for Kona to Oakland. Mileage always seems to be 80k for first class, but some days it costs around $850 (so would be a slight bargain) and other days around $400 for the same seat (so would be a total rip-off). My only dilemma is that my wallet credits are sue to expire next July while my miles would be good indefinitely, and like everybody else I have no idea when life will be returning to normal in the Bay Area to make a pleasure visit worthwhile (hotels open, restaurants operating normally, theater, etc).

  9. One advantage of Alaska Wallet funds I believe (I’ve seen this in some places, but never have found a hard confirmation) is that the expiration is a book-by, not a fly-by, date. So, really the expiration is as much as 11 months after, if this is the case.

    Also, with AS joining OW (and EQM and EQD already counting for AA, at least) spending Wallet Funds on travel – if one is going to do so, works toward OW status.

    Cheers.

  10. I just bought $5000 of Alaska gift cards from Costco. Converted 50% of it to miles. Will be flying business to Asia with the family in the Spring time.

  11. Let me see if I understand this fantastic and gracious offer from Alaska Air. I have $1514 in my wallet account and they so generously are offering me to exchange this cash for 151400 miles. I just checked and found that the $1514 I paid for a first class flight from sfo to hnl in Mar 2020 will now only cost me 350000 miles.

    How is that a great deal for me or is my math just plain fuzzy. I have $1514 paid for two roundtriip to Hnl first class and I will only need another 150000 award miles for this ticket. Wow, what a deal.

    Yeah, right….

  12. @Bobby Flay

    Hadn’t realized that CostCo had 10% off AS gift cards. We fly them paid for status so this is free money. They used to sell AA cards at the same rate and we bought $9000 worth some years back. They’re on our CostCo list 🙂

    Cheers.

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