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Frustrated with Alaska Airlines Bank of America Visa

Frustrated with Alaska Airlines Bank of America Visa

Old Feb 4, 10, 10:41 pm
  #1  
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Angry Frustrated with Alaska Airlines Bank of America Visa

It seems that, as time goes on, I'm getting more and more frustrated with the B of A Visa...to the point that I'm wondering if it's still worth it for me to hold this card.

Frustrations:

Companion Certificate - obviously the change from $50 - $99 was unpopular; additionally, the fact that it's strictly a companion fare becomes difficult - often even when I'm traveling with someone else, we don't always fly together due to schedule differences, etc. Other times I'm meeting people somewhere, but we're not starting in the same destination. Wish it could be a companion cert, or $ or even % off a flight even if the $ off were potentially less valuable...it would mean I would always be able to get some value out of it.

But, what's killing me lately is the international transaction fees. This is the branded credit card of an airline that serves both Canada and Mexico, yet it charges foreign transaction fees EVEN on transactions in USD. I travel internationally a lot, and the upcharge (I believe 3%) is not worth the miles it buys, especially when I can use my CapitalOne card which has a 0% transaction/conversion fee and earns 1% back - a 4% difference. I could buy miles on Alaskaair.com for cheaper than that (even without the bonus). Recently I booked a hotel on gtahotels.com - I didn't think to check the fact that the site is based in Europe. Even though the website quoted the transaction (and charged it) in USD, a nice 3% transaction fee was tacked onto my bill.

Granted, I know these 2 situations are not average, but it is now leaving me to consider if I should be spending my last year with BofA. I'm considering checking into other rewards cards such as Starwood to see if I'd come out ahead.

Of course, then I'd miss out on:
1000 miles per ticket at Alaskaair.com
3 miles per dollar at alaskaair.com
2000 anniversary miles

Anything else the card does for me that I'm missing?
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Old Feb 4, 10, 10:45 pm
  #2  
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I believe they're doing away with Anniversary Miles, and it's 2x for AS purchases, not 3x?
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Old Feb 4, 10, 11:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Points Scrounger View Post
I believe they're doing away with Anniversary Miles, and it's 2x for AS purchases, not 3x?
I think you're right on the anniversary miles, I'd forgotten that.

At least according to the application:

Earn 3 miles for every qualifying dollar in purchases of Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air tickets and Vacation packages
I'd have to go back and look at my statements to see if this applies to long term signature holders or not.
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Old Feb 4, 10, 11:11 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by Points Scrounger View Post
and it's 2x for AS purchases, not 3x?
went back to 2x again?
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Old Feb 4, 10, 11:17 pm
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Recently increased to 3x for AS purchases.

As for whether it makes sense to use Capital One or BoA, for me this would depend on how you use your miles:

If you're able to get enough award usage at the 25K level for domestic, you could make a reasonable argument to stick with BoA and avoid foreign transactions when possible.

If you typically only can find award travel at the 50K mile level, you could make a reasonable argument to switch to Capital One for 1% cash back, esp when adding in suprise foreign transaction fees.
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Old Feb 4, 10, 11:59 pm
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When did it go up from 2x to 3x?
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Old Feb 5, 10, 12:44 am
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Originally Posted by Points Scrounger View Post
When did it go up from 2x to 3x?
Last year sometime... know I got it in March(ish)

But for international travel this card sounds south of expected. Might need to get a Capitol One card someday (If I ever leave the country )
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Old Feb 5, 10, 1:02 am
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Originally Posted by ExecTraveler View Post
As for whether it makes sense to use Capital One or BoA, for me this would depend on how you use your miles...
Oh, and just to clarify, I'm not asking which is a better deal, CapitalOne vs BofA AS visa; I already have a "system" in place where I use the AS visa for routine purchases, my CapitalOne for all international transactions (because no other reward card makes up for the ridiculous fee it charges), and my Costco Amex for Gas and Restaurants (because I figure 3% cash to be better than miles).

The statement is that I'm frustrated with the decreasing value of the AS BofA visa...and what I'm going to answer from myself shortly, is whether or not there is another rewards card out there (such as Starwood), that I'd get better return on my spending.

And also...for those of you that use the companion cert wisely every year, there is no doubt in my mind that the AS visa is a worthwhile card for you. It's just that in my case I'm not always able to get a good value out of it. I had often gifted my companion cert, and many of those that I gifted it to thought it was so great they now hold the Visa Signature and have their own cert.

As a general rule, I figure the value of the RDM's I earn from the card is about 2cpm - i.e., if a r/t domestic ticket is less than $500, I usually pay cash, but if not, I check for an award ticket and if 25K I book that preferentially. If neither is true...I usually hope for a change in fair or mileage award level...or try to change my plans! In the end, that may be realistic for ANC, but I'd argue that the value is probably somewhat less on lower 48 routes. Of course once you start talking international F redemptions, the story changes - but I always find myself asking whether or not I really would have paid $5-10K for that ticket...and if the answer is a resounding NO, then I wonder if I can really claim I got that redemption value. After all, the value of something is only how much the consumer would have been willing to pay for it...and in the case of an international F award that you book, that consumer is you.

Tangent - long story short...it's probably about a 2% return.
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Old Feb 5, 10, 1:19 am
  #9  
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This thread might be of help... :

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/miles...rehensive.html
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Old Feb 5, 10, 4:26 am
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Originally Posted by beckoa View Post
And this 43-page (as of this writing, with 40 posts per page enabled) one:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/miles...-exchange.html

That thread links to the following FT Wiki article, which is very comprehensive:

http://flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php...reign_Exchange
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Old Feb 5, 10, 7:11 am
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Don't use this card on purchases processed outside the United States, the Alaska miles aren't worth the foreign currency conversion fee (also charged on US$ transactions initiated outside the US by many card companies ).

The companion ticket - even at $99 rather than $50 - is a real benefit. IMHO the single best companion ticket offered by any airline or program, anywhere. No blackout dates or capacity controls. The companion books into the same fare class as the paid ticket. I buy a first class ticket and the second paid first class passenger is $99+tax. I've done that from the US East Coast to Hawaii. Spent less than 2 coach tickets to do it, too, and no capacity controls on upgrades or spending to confirm upgrades, either. Plus fully changeable/refundable and earns class of service bonus for the companion, to boot. Pretty sweet IMHO.
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Old Feb 5, 10, 1:11 pm
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Originally Posted by gleff View Post
Don't use this card on purchases processed outside the United States, the Alaska miles aren't worth the foreign currency conversion fee (also charged on US$ transactions initiated outside the US by many card companies ).

The companion ticket - even at $99 rather than $50 - is a real benefit. IMHO the single best companion ticket offered by any airline or program, anywhere. No blackout dates or capacity controls. The companion books into the same fare class as the paid ticket. I buy a first class ticket and the second paid first class passenger is $99+tax. I've done that from the US East Coast to Hawaii. Spent less than 2 coach tickets to do it, too, and no capacity controls on upgrades or spending to confirm upgrades, either. Plus fully changeable/refundable and earns class of service bonus for the companion, to boot. Pretty sweet IMHO.
This is the only reason I still have the AS BofA card. I switched to the Chase BA card last yr with the 100K bonus deal. Haven't used my AS BofA card much since.
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Old Feb 5, 10, 1:25 pm
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I use my BofA card strictly for purchases in country. Most banks now...no matter if they are BofA, Citi, or many others are making foreign transactions subject to the 3% fee, regardless if the transaction is made is USD or a foreign currency. Apparently, the merchant, by virtue of being "foreign" makes them higher risk. It is all hooey. I've always thought the foreign transaction charges were bovine fecal matter, but USD charges from foreign merchants is just plain greed. Check to make sure whoever does starwood's card doesn't do the same thing.

I've a separate VISA card from my Credit Union which only charges 1% on foreign transaction fees...and to top it off, when I use my ATM overseas, they don't charge me $5 for the privilege of accessing my own cash.

I'll stay with the BofA card, simply because the companion ticket is worth the $75 annual fee, considering where I have used it.
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Old Feb 5, 10, 2:09 pm
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Hmmm. I agree with the OP: the foreign exchange fee is outrageous. We use a Charles Schwab Visa now for off shore trips. I also have three Amex cards which all charge foreign exchange fees. The Schwab Visa, which is a Capitol One card also, pays a 2% cash bonus back.
But what I hate the most about B OF A is their cheesy, duplicitous payment page where you can't figure out what the monthly total for the bill is without looking at the hard copy mailed to our home via the USPS. It is meant to deceive and reward them with more interest charged to your account.

The companion cert was great at $50 and OK now @ $99.

I have a Starwood Amex which has been very good for getting some very nice in city hotels for cheap but they also have a foreign transaction fee baked into their system, it is just hidden there in the total and is at least 2%,,,
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Old Feb 5, 10, 2:15 pm
  #15  
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The Starwood AmEx is a better card than the Alaska Visa for general spending. While the Alaska Visa is good for the companion ticket, it's not a great card for general spending.

Because 20k SPG points = 25k Alaska miles, I essentially earn 1.25 Alaska (or many other airlines) miles per dollar spent on my Starwood AmEx whereas I would earn only 1 Alaska mile per dollar on the Alaska Visa (and I can't move those miles to other programs).
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