Credit Card Showdown Round 3: Chase Ink Bold vs. Alaska Airlines Visa

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Welcome to Round 3 of the credit card showdown. This series is due to a session that was presented at the Frequent Traveler University conference this past weekend (which you can read more about here).

The two previous debates with the pros/cons of each card include:

  • Debate 1: United Explorer vs. British Airways Visa (currently the United Explorer card is winning – prior blog post)
  • Debate 2: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Starwood American Express (currently the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is winning – prior blog post)

The third debate at the FTU conference was between the Chase Ink Bold (represented by blogger Million Mile Secrets) and the Alaska Airlines Visa (represented by blogger View from the Wing). At the end of the debate, the Alaska Airlines Visa won primarily due to the value of the companion ticket earned from the credit card. I personally do not have either cards currently, however, the Chase Ink Bold card is in my near future. – I actually just signed my mom up for this card though as the 5x bonus categories are amazing! So for those of you who were not able to attend this live session, I’ll run through the benefits of each card (pros and cons) from the comfort of your home. At the end of this post you will have the opportunity to vote for the one you like best based on the arguments at hand. so here we go…

Chase Ink Bold

Pro

  • Earn 50,000 bonus Ultimate Reward points after spending $5,000 within the first three months
  • Earn 2x points on gas and hotels
  • Earn  5x points on business spend – this includes: wireless communication services, cable and satellite television and radio services, office supply stores and wholesale distributors of office supplies
    • You can earn up to a maximum of 200,000 bonus points on business spend (which means $50,000 of spend a year)
    • For example, assume your household spends about $300/month on cable tv, home phone, and cell phone (this is what I believe my parents spend for just their personal household use) – this will mean you’ll earn 18,000 points a year on this spend (this includes the typical 1 point you earn on every day spend). On most other cards you would earn your typical 1 point per dollar which will give you 3,600 points a year (not exciting at all!)
    • Frequent Miler has some amazing posts on how to really get the full value of your card with the 5x bonus on business spend
  • Free additional cards (the primarily card holder will receive all the points)
  • Airport lounge access to over 350 VIP lounges worldwide. First two visits per year are free, then $27 per person.
  • This card earns you Ultimate Reward points which are extremely valuable and can be transferred at a 1:1 rate to the following loyalty programs: United, Korean Air, British Airways, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak (read more about the value of transferring to hotels and airlines)
  • This card is part of the infamous trifecta program where if you get this card with the Chase Freedom and Chase Checking you can ultimately enhance your earning opportunity significantly (read more about this here)
  • By having this card you have access to the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal where you can sometimes get 10x bonus points on all online purchases!
  • No foreign transaction fees!

Cons

  • While it is extremely easy to get the initial 25,000 bonus points, it requires an additional $10,000 in spend within the first three months to earn the 2nd batch of 25,000 points – this is a lot of spend in a short time period!
  • Chase has been getting stingy on the amount of applications you can have in a small time period
  • Similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred the card is not churn able
Alaska Airlines Visa
Pros
  • No minimum spend to get the 25,000 bonus offer for new applicants, receive the points on approval – easy!  UPDATE: There is currently an offer for 40,000 bonus points.
  • Receive an annual companion fare for $99 (plus tax) – this is the BEST perk of the card
    • With the companion ticket the second traveler flies for $99 + tax on the exact same itinerary as the first traveler – if the first traveler is flying in first class, for $99 the companion can as well!
    • No capacity control on redeeming the companion ticket – if there is a seat for sale, it is yours
    • If you are looking to go to Hawaii, for example, you can fly from many major hubs via Seattle and then onto Oahu with the companion still only paying $99 (just the a look at layovers as they do not seem to be great options from NYC)
    • Companion ticket can ONLY be redeemed on Alaska Airways operated flights, no partner airlines
    • UPDATE: Companion ticket can now only be used on economy flights, not business or first class fares.
  • Earn 3 miles for every dollar spent on Alaska Airline flights
  • This is a Visa Signature card, where there are times random limited time promotions/perks that come with the cards (i.e, last year you could register to receive Hilton Gold status)
  • This is a Bank of America issued card, so you are not competing with already having too many Chase or Amex applicants open (also BofA cards are typically churn able)
  • While this is not a perk of the card, but the program itself – you can redeem your miles on many partner airlines including: American, Delta, Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, and Korean Air (this allows for the flexibility amongst OneWorld and SkyTeam redemption!) – you can also typically build in stopovers into your award
Cons
  • The sign up bonus is low compared to other cards, but remember, no minimum spend (once or twice a year you might be able to find a limited time 30-40k offer)
  • The only bonus points you receive is on Alaska Airlines flights, which you can get anyways by having the American Express Platinum Rewards Gold card (where you get triple points on all airfare purchases)
  • $75 annual fee not waived the first year
  • 3% foreign transaction fees where the Ink Bold card has none
  • Not a card I’d use for making purchases, but simply for getting that annual companion ticket!
  • When redeeming miles on a partner airline, you can only redeem for roundtrip itineraries – additionally, you can not fly multiple airline carriers even within the same alliance program

You can learn about the various credit cards that earn you points and miles towards free travel here.

So which card do you think is better?

Cast Your Vote

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Comments

  1. It was so hard for me to hold my tongue during that debate! While the Alaskan Airlines companion pass is valuable, the Ink Bold is light years ahead for everything else!

    • @FrequentMiler – The cards aren’t really comparable. The Chase Ink Bold is a card you use for spending while the Alaskan Airlines card is one you use solely for the benefit (assuming you are to fly an Alaskan Airlines flight – if not then no benefit).

  2. That’s true, but for a showdown you have to vote for just one. If forced to chose, I’ll take the Bold every time (well, unless I’m about to go to Hawaii with an even number of people and I’m leaving from an Alaskan Airlines serviced airport…).

    • @FrequentMiler – I hear ya, there are definitely some dependencies. And if I could only chose 1, it would 110% be the Chase Ink Bold.

  3. SF Bay Area residents love AS for their cheap flights to OGG/LIH/KOA from less-crowded SJC and OAK (Y From $340 all-in, J from $1300+ on ITA). I’ll have nice trip for 3 with my $400 in Amex Plat Credits (annual $200 resets Jan 1)on 1 reservation and the companion ticket and me on the other. Unfortunately, you can’t use the credit on the full fare with the companion ticket.

  4. since the companion certificate on Alaska is now good ONLY for coach as of 8/1/12, this is no contest. The Alaska VISA card’s only benefit is the 25k mileage bonus. Thereafter, it’s virtually worthless. Boo Alaska and Bank of America for destroying the value of its VISA card.

    • @jon f – I agree that the huge appeal was being able to use it on first class tickets which makes the card not nearly as valuable. However, you still can fly coach to Hawaii!

  5. 1) you only need to spend the $5k to get all 50,000 pts
    2) it is churn able, I heve had 3 in the last 15 mos

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