When Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America in April 2016, many people wondered whether the Virgin Visa and Alaska Airlines Visa credit cards were still worthwhile.
If you’re a small business owner who frequently flies on either airline, you might be thinking the same thing.
We break down the pros and cons of the Alaska business credit card, compare it to other major travel offers, and discuss how the Alaska-Virgin merger will impact the business credit card.
TL;DR: If you’re an Alaska Airlines loyalist, the Alaska business credit card will be rewarding for you. If you aren’t loyal to an airline but are looking for a big sign-up bonus, try the Chase Ink Business Preferred (it’s got one of the biggest sign-up bonuses on the market–80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months!).
The Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card starts you off with a solid signup bonus: 30,000 Alaska Airlines bonus miles when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. One Mile at a Time values Alaska miles at about 1.8 cents each, so your bonus is worth around $540.
As for ongoing rewards, you get 3 miles per $1 spent on Alaska and Virgin purchases and 1 mile per $1 elsewhere.
A major Virgin Visa Signature perk made its way over to the Alaska business credit card: Every year, you can get an annual companion fare from $121 ($99 base fare, plus at least $22 in taxes and fees).
This means that once a year on an Alaska or Virgin flight, you can bring someone along for just $99 in base fare and applicable taxes and fees. You also get one free checked bag for you and up to six other people on your reservation. (Currently, business cardholders only get this benefit on Alaska flights, not Virgin ones.)
The Alaska business credit card has a $75 annual fee but comes with no foreign transaction or additional employee card fees. If you check bags on a roundtrip Alaska flight at least twice a year or if you use the companion ticket on a base fare over $174, you can easily recoup the annual fee.
Get the Alaska Airlines Visa business credit card if:
Skip the card if:
The Chase Ink Business PreferredSM is one of the best general travel cards on the market, offering a signup bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
That’s currently the biggest signup bonus we’ve seen on popular business travel cards today.
You also get an ongoing base rewards rate of 1 point per $1, and 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent annually on:
The great thing about the Ink Business Preferred is that, while it’s a majorly rewarding travel card, you don’t have to spend in travel categories to earn on the card.
There’s no foreign transaction or employee card fees, and its annual fee is a reasonable $95. The card’s main value is in its rewards: Redeemed well, Ultimate Rewards Points can be worth upward of 3 cents each.
Typically, the best way to redeem is by transferring to one of Chase’s airline or hotel loyalty partners, which include United, British Airways, and Hyatt. If you redeem for travel booked through Chase’s Orbitz-powered portal, your points will be worth 1.25 cents each.
This brings the signup bonus’ value to at least $1,000 (if you book travel through Chase) and possibly $2,400 or more if you redeem well. That blows the Alaska card’s 30,000-mile bonus out of the water—but you’d also be giving up the companion fare and free checked bag benefits.
Verdict: If you’re looking to maximize signup bonus value, go with the Ink Preferred. Otherwise, stick with Alaska business credit card.
If you want to fly in luxury, look no further than the Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN.
For business owners who prioritize travel perks on the list of what they want from a business credit card, the Business Platinum is the best card out there.
In addition to Global Entry or TSA Pre-check application fee reimbursement, the card offers free Gogo or Boingo internet access and access to the network of American Express lounges, which include Centurion, Delta Sky Club, and Priority Pass Select.
Plus, you get an annual $200 airline fee credit, which reimburses you for checked bag fees, onboard meals, and so on. If getting value out of Alaska’s companion discount is too much of a hassle, the Platinum’s $200 credit is a good alternative. You’ll automatically get this each year.
The card does come with a steep $450 annual fee, but the charge is mitigated by the value of its perks as well as a signup bonus of up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points (50,000 when you spend $10,000 and an additional 50,000 when you spend another $15,000 in three months). It’s meant for luxury business travelers, so if you spend a lot of time in airports, it’s well worth a look.
Verdict: If you spend big and fly often, go with the Platinum. Dedicated Alaska flyers should stick to the branded Alaska business credit card.
As of May 2017, the Virgin America Visa Signature is no longer accepting new applications; throughout the year, Virgin Elevate Points will fold into Alaska Airlines miles.
As for the Alaska business credit card, here’s what you can expect:
Expect more details to emerge as Virgin America is folded into Alaska Airlines.
Check Your Business Credit Card Options