Are the Alaska Cards Still Churnable?

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The last couple days I’ve been wading through this entire Flyertalk thread–>Alaska Airlines card offers, Personal & Business, now 30k, as well as months back into the 2016 and prior version of the same (discontinued) thread, to get a sense of the state of churning Alaska cards. What I learned is that while there are still people churning the Alaska Airlines credit cards, it is with much less frequency than before and they’re following stricter rules than what used to stand.

Below I will go over the new best practices regarding management of the Alaska cards that will apply to most people. Of course, your situation could be different–you might get lucky–and perhaps get away with things others haven’t. But the following points are based on the majority of data points contributed by people like us on Flyertalk.

Brief Background

Bank of America issues two credit cards co-branded with Alaska Airlines, the:

  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card

Both come with 30k bonuses of Alaska miles. For years, people have been churning these two cards as an easy way of garnering lots of Alaska miles.

“Churnable”? Is that a made up word?

Why yes it is! In the world of miles and points, a churnable credit card is one you can get the same sign-up bonus from over and over.

New Best Practices When Applying For Alaska Cards

The first two best practices were outlined recently by Flyertalker sdsearch as a summary of practical advice taken from Alaska Airlines card offers, Personal & Business, now 30k. After reading that thread myself as well as back into 2016’s, I agree with sdsearch.

A. If you have a personal Alaska card already open, you will likely be denied for a second one.

This means you need to close your existing account before applying for another one. How much time is necessary between those two actions, I’m not sure, but it’s pretty clear from the majority of data points that Bank of America’s system will automatically deny you for a personal card if you have another personal card open.

This might also be the case with the business version of the card, but there are less data points about the business card so it’s hard to draw solid conclusions.

B. After you open an Alaska card, meet the minimum spending requirement, and all the bonus points/reward benefits post, lower the credit limit as much as possible. 

Considering point A, you will need to cancel your existing Alaska card (or downgrade to non-Alaska card) before applying for another. If you have a high credit limit on your Alaska card when canceling it, that credit will be “locked up” for a year or more, meaning you won’t have access to it for credit limits on future cards. To understand this you need to first understand that the amount of credit Bank of America will extend to you as a customer is a finite resource as the bank wants to limit their exposure.

But if you call Bank of America and request to lower your credit line, the subsequent “freed up” credit becomes available within some months (not sure exactly how long, but not as long as when you cancel a card without lowering the limit first).

That’s why reducing the credit limit as much and as quickly as possible after getting the card, rather then only when you’re about to cancel it, is a wise idea. It frees up your available credit more quickly and therefore you can apply for another card sooner.

Call the number on the back of your card for help reducing credit lines.

C. Do not apply for another card any less than 90 days after your prior application or it will very likely be denied.

We used to lightly warn that waiting 90 days between applications was wise, but now it seems you will almost certainly be denied for another Alaska card if you apply less than 90 days after your previous application, according to Million Mile Secrets.

D. Keep the amount of active Bank of America cards you have to no more than four. 

Doctor of Credit reported account closures at the end of January of people with more than four credit cards open. There are even more data points in the comments than what’s initially listed in the post.

Calling the Reconsideration Line

A quick aside–you should always consider calling the reconsideration line if your credit card application comes back as status pending. Many times they will just ask you the same questions that were on the original application and then approve you. Or if it’s more complicated than that, you’ll at least learn something from the call about how to better handle things if there’s a next time.

  • Reconsider Phone # for the personal card: 1-800-354-0401
  • Reconsider Phone # for the business card: 866-695-6598

The Dreaded Alaska Airlines Visa Platinum Switch-Up

There is another Alaska Airlines co-branded personal credit card aside from the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature called the Alaska Airlines Visa Platinum. Sometimes when applying for the signature card, Bank of America will (for whatever reason) approve you for the Platinum card instead which has a lower credit line and only a meager 5k bonus. Obviously not an ideal situation.

In case this happens to you, take Flyertalker Brugge’s advice as quoted below. But first, a glossary of terms as there is quite a bit of shorthand…

  • Plat = Alaska Airlines Visa Platinum
  • Sig = Alaska Airlines Visa Signature
  • HP = Hard Pull, as in a hard credit inquiry
  • CB = Credit Bureau
  • Recon = Reconsideration phone line
  • AS = Alaska Airlines

There is a lengthy and painstaking way to get your Plat card replaced with a Sig card, and get the full 25K [Sarah Page: now 30k] bonus. Not “upgraded”, once a card is issued, it can’t be upgraded, they have to open a new app for you from their side. If you look back thru the thread, I’ve given the full details on this. Be aware it will take at least 2 months to get the new card, and will involve another HP. So maybe just reapply, hope that due to the recent app it will go to pending, and Recon may very well approve you for a Sig. Then cancel the recent inferior card, it’s not worth the AF.

The way to get a Sig card, if you are instantly approved for a lessor card, is to just reapply the same day. Most likely that app will go to pending, or be denied as a mistaken “duplicate app”. Then you can call Recon, and get them to reopen the app, give you a Sig for your second app, and cancel the first one. All apps on the same day get combined, so your second, or third if necessary, will only register as one HP with the CB.

Don’t keep the lessor cards open, as lately AS is closing the accounts of people who get multiple AS cards the same day. Make sure they are canceled as soon as the Sig card is approved.

Also make sure you apply during weekday business hours, as B/A Recon is closed evenings and weekends, and if you have to call them a day later, you will end up with another HP.

Current Best Offers for the Alaska Cards

Applying through this link will get you the following offer on the Alaska Airline Visa Signature card:

  • 30,000 Alaska miles for spending $1,000 on the card within three months of opening it
  • $100 statement credit (also in return for meeting the minimum spending requirement)
  • One Companion Fare with $0 base fare and only taxes; following the first year, ever year on your card anniversary you’ll get another Companion Fare for $99 + taxes
  • Free checked bag on Alaska and Virgin America flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation
  • 3 Alaska miles for every dollar spent on Alaska Airlines or Virgin America purchases
  • $75 annual fee (not waived the first year)

The Alaska Airlines Business Visa card hasn’t changed it’s offer for a while now.

  • 30,000 Alaska miles for spending $1,000 on the card within three months of opening it
  • Free checked bag on Alaska and Virgin America flights for you and up to six other passengers on the same reservation
  • Companion Fare with $99 base fare + taxes, and following the first year, ever year on your card anniversary you’ll get another Bottom Line
  • 3 Alaska miles for every dollar spent on Alaska Airlines or Virgin America purchases
  • $75 annual fee (not waived the first year)

Neither has foreign transaction fees.

Alaska partners you can redeem miles to fly.
Alaska partners you can redeem miles to fly.

Bottom Line

It appears the Alaska Airlines credit cards issued by Bank of America are still churnable, albeit with much stricter guidelines for approval. The biggest takeway, I think, is that the majority of people are only getting away with having one personal Alaska Visa Signature card open at one time.

Please note this post is based off of others’ experiences and that I’m not a financial planner. Do your own due diligence before engaging in practices like churning yourself.

If you have applied for an Alaska Airlines credit card recently, please share your experience(s) in the comments for all of us to learn from.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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35 COMMENTS

  1. Just learned this the hard way for my wife. She “only” had one of each for pers and bus cards so thought she’d be a slam dunk. P went pending but declined by end of day and Bus was auto declined. All good things must come to an end, I suppose.

    Probably won’t try recon, but am curious if there was a HP or not.

    I’ve also tried to get a plat approval upgraded twice, but to no avail, even after months of run around on one of them.

    And thanks for the tip on lowering CL early. Sounds like a good one. Not possible to do by SM?

    • Apparently online contact was somewhat available to “Preferred customers” until recently, and now even those people can’t get anything done through secure messaging. Back to the old fashioned telephone.

  2. I canceled my Pers and waited about 1.5 months and got an auto approval earlier this week with a huge limit. They never gave me a limit this high before, maybe cause I always had 2 open and this time only 1 non Alaska. I also was able to get the Merrill card the same day by calling in. That one went pending but I called the next day and got approval also with a huge limit. Now granted I have been slowing down my apps to try and clean up my 5/24 but didn’t want to pass these up.

  3. If you can only have one Alaska Air card at a time, and the recommendation is that you close the ones you have before applying, how long would you keep the ones you have opened? less than a year? 6 months? 3 months? wouldn’t that raise a red flag?

    • I tend to keep mine open for 9 months. But that was when you could get one every 90 days. I think 6 months and waiting a month should work. Basically just like a Barclay and only apply after 6 months.

  4. Do you think the auto-denial for an existing card only applies to AS or all BofA cards? In the past, I was able to have two open VS cards, wonder if that’s still possible.

    • I think it only applies to AS cards, but I’m sure having lots of other BofA cards open doesn’t help.

  5. All Personal: 1/7/16 Rejected, 3/24/16 Rejected, 6/17/16 Closed (opened 7/29/15), 7/26/16 Approved, 1/13/17 Approved, 5/2/17 Closed (opened 7/26/17), 5/4/17 Approved – Currently 2 cards opened.

  6. Closed personal about nine months ago. Applied for business card-approved. Then personal card-approved. Both instantly.

  7. Update: BoA just closed my account without telling me. When I called they said it was approved in error and that i had a sufficient number of accounts with them, which is 2. I pressed and they offered to pull my credit again but even if they did they would not be able to take credit limit (reduce limit) from my other cards to keep this one open because the closed card is no longer a new card but an existing account. I asked for the supervisor’s supervisor to call me back. I had charges on the card and they just closed it without even calling me.

  8. First time reading your blog, Sarah – great stuff. I saw this headline on MilesFeed and was like “Yes! That’s the kind of stuff I want to see!” I’ve similarly been digging through all of the data on this recently so it’s nice to see it all summarized in one place.

    Anyways – seems like they keep citing “sufficient credit with BoA” as a reason for cancelling accounts like they did to C.J. I wonder if it makes sense to close all BoA personal cards before applying again.

    • Glad to hear it! Yes, it does make sense to close your personal cards before opening new ones, for that very reason. I would call in and lower all your credit lines before closing though (for reasons outlined in this post).

  9. We opened business and personal accounts in both July and December of last year. Not sure of the 4 card rule pertains to all cards or either personal or business cards, but I currently hold 3 business and 2 personal.

  10. I’ve been”churning” these for a little over 2 years, every 95 days like clockwork. Activate-plastiq a mortgage payment – wait for miles to appear – cxl cards. Wash, rinse and repeat…..

    Safe travels…

  11. I opened 4 personal Alaska cards in 2015, and when time came to pay AF, I closed 2 of them and downgraded 2 of them to some sort of cash back card (can’t remember their names). It’s been close to a year since this– what are my chances of getting approved for a new personal card?

  12. Do you happen to know if any of these rules apply to their 2 Amtrak cards? I know many people don’t apply for them (so there aren’t many DPs), but I live in an area where I can get a lot of use out of them. I have both currently, and was seeking data points to attempt both again. I suppose I could follow this article for Alaska and first lower both limits, then close both, wait 90 days and apply again for both to see what happens.

    • I’m not sure, but I would search Flyertalk for more info. That’s where I collected most information for this post. This is just me hypothesizing with no data points to go off of but I doubt BofA is as strict with Amtrak cards as Alaska cards.

      Different topic but might be of interest to you if you were planning on ordering flowers for Mother’s Day: right now you can earn 20 Amtrak points per dollar spent on 1800flowers.com, just use promo code AMT36.

  13. Rather than lower the cl would it not be better to move the credit to another boa card then if you get denied you can have recon move credit back to new Alaska card for you?

  14. […] United States to Southeast Asia roundtrip in Cathay Pacific Business Class = 140,000 American Airlines miles. Yes, it’s much cheaper to redeem Alaska miles on this same award (100,000 Alaska miles, but if you can open all three of these cards at once, you’ll earn the necessary miles in three months versus the six you’d need to earn 100,000 Alaska miles) […]

  15. I have an Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card that has been used for two years, just now applied for another Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card online and was instantly approved. Limit on original was around $9000 and second was approved with a limit of a $15,000 and will arrive via mail in 10 days. Still churnable!

  16. Concerning alaska visa signature card: opened 1/21/16-closed 2/2017, opened 3/21/17, applied on 1/31/18 instantly approved did not close card that was opened on 3/21/17. was given $18,000 credit line.

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