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One of the most valuable benefits for the Alaska Airlines Visa is the annual companion fare. If used properly, it is a way to not only offset your annual fee but to come out on top by a large margin (sometimes several hundred dollars).
In other words, it can make your Alaska Airlines Visa card worth holding onto in the long term.
In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about the Alaska Airlines Visa Annual companion fare.
What is the Alaska Airlines Visa companion fare?
The companion fare is a recurring benefit offered to Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card holders that allows you to book a discounted economy ticket for a companion every year.
It is also sometimes offered as a benefit in the form of a welcome bonus.
This is a single use companion fare ticket which is quite different from something like the Southwest Companion Pass which you can use multiple times.
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If your account is open with active charging privileges on your account anniversary date, you will receive the Companion Fare code within the first 2 billing cycles after the Anniversary date each year.
The Alaska FAQ states that, “[t]ypically, your account anniversary will fall approximately 6 to 8 weeks after the date on which you originally open your credit card account.”
This means that you could be waiting quite some time for that benefit to arrive after your true account anniversary date.
In reality, you may receive the companion fare much quicker than that, as it may show up only a couple of weeks after your account open date.
Once the companion fare code arrives, it should be directly credited to your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account. I’m not aware of notifications that go out for this benefit so you will just need to be on the lookout for it.
There is also a companion fare that often is attached to the welcome bonus.
To earn that, you will have to meet a minimum spend requirement such as spending $2,000 in the first 90 days after opening up your account but this requirement could change.
If you are earning a companion fare with your welcome bonus, it will likely appear shortly after the statement closes that you hit your minimum spend in.
You can use this code for a round-trip or one-way coach companion fare on Alaska Airlines.
The big take away here is that you must book a coach fare ticket and that you cannot use the code for partner airlines like American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, etc.
(In the past you could use your pass to purchase first class tickets.)
You’ll need to be traveling with another guest on a paid published ticket on the same itinerary and the ticket will need to be booked at the same time on alaskaair.com.
You can use the companion fare for one way or round trip travel and can even book open jaws or multi-city itineraries.
Booking multi-city itineraries is a great way to expand the value of your benefit. In some cases, you could be adding on a few hundred bucks in savings.
Just note that multiple stopovers are not allowed.
I have seen some reports of people getting the companion fare to apply to itineraries with multiple stopovers but that goes against the terms of the benefits so you can’t expect that to always work.
You will be responsible for paying the $99 base fare plus the taxes and fees which may total to $121. (Other fees such as baggage fees may apply as well.)
The annual fee for this credit card is $75 so if you are able to find a companion fare that totals $196 or more, you are coming out on top with this card.
That should not be difficult to do when flying across the country with Alaska Airlines. However, if you are looking to book shorter flights around the West Coast it may be much more difficult to find a deal that makes sense.
Note: There have been special offers in the past where the $99 base fare is waived so be on the lookout for those.
This companion fare has great flexibility when it comes to the eligibility of the travelers using the perk.
That is because the cardmember who receives the companion fare code does NOT have to be a traveler on the reservation.
The Alaska Mileage Plan member who owns the companion fare code must be either: 1) one of the travelers or 2) simply the purchaser of the reservation.
That makes using this perk substantially easier for a lot of people.
Note: If you are the companion fare holder and not traveling then your name must match the name on the credit card used to purchase the reservation.
Credit card used
You will need to purchase the primary ticket and also the companion fare with your Alaska Airlines credit card.
This is super important for people considering canceling their card.
Some people might consider canceling their Alaska card right after they receive the companion fare benefit but if you do that then you will not be eligible for the benefit since you won’t be able to use your card for the purchase.
This was not always the case so if you used this benefit prior to October 2019 just note that this was a recent change.
You must redeem your companion fare code online within 12 months of the date of issue. (Your companion fare code must be redeemed by 11:59 pm PT on the expiration date.)
Once you have received your ticket, the travel date may occur after the expiration of your companion fare code.
So let’s say that your companion fare code expired October 15, 2021. If you booked your ticket prior to October 15, 2021 for a flight the next month, that would be allowed by the rules.
According to the terms and conditions, the expiration date cannot be extended and if your companion fare code expires it cannot be restored or exchanged.
One possible work around here is that you could book a full fare economy ticket which allows for maximum flexibility with changes.
You can purchase tickets for up to 330 days in advance so you could purchase a full fare ticket almost a year in advance and then change the ticket once you know your exact travel plans.
You should be able to change the ticket type and also the destination. If your new ticket is cheaper than the initial ticket then you can be refunded the difference.
Finding your companion fare discount code
To locate your companion fare discount code log into your Alaska account and look under the “discount and companion fare codes” section.
As long as you are the primary cardholder, you should be able to find it here.
In order to use your code, from the “discount and companion fares codes” section simply click on “shop” next to your discount code. This is also where you can view the expiration date.
After you select “shop,” the companion fare code will be automatically copied into the discount or companion fare code field as you search for flights.
Just make sure that you select only two travelers because that is the only way to book a flight with the discount code.
(If you are trying to fly with more than one individual, you will need to make a separate booking for them.)
As you proceed to check out you should see the breakdown of your itinerary and under the total price you should see the companion price set at $99.
Note that you will also have to cover the fees which will typically total at least $22.
Be sure to check out: Alaska Airlines Club 49: (Deals & Baggage Fee Benefits)
Alaska Airlines Visa companion fare FAQs
Yes, you and the guest can earn mileage credit for the flights.
No, unfortunately you cannot use the companion fare code on award tickets.
Alaska states that it could take a couple of billing cycles for you to receive the companion fare but some people receive the companion fare within just a few weeks after the anniversary of the account open date.
No, if the cardholder is not traveling they only have to use their card to purchase the revenue ticket and the companion fare ticket.
If there are two upgradable seats available, you may be able to upgrade your companion fare using miles, elite + companion upgrades, guest upgrades, or paid upgrades that may be offered at check-in.
The companion fare is valid on flights operated by Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air and on PenAir between Anchorage and Dutch Harbor. It is not valid on codeshare flights.
As you can tell, this could be quite a lucrative benefit for those who fly Alaska Airlines. If you can utilize it on a ticket costing $196 or more then you will be in the clear for completely offsetting the annual fee of your Alaska Airlines credit card.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.