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Earn up to 5x Alaska miles on your next restaurant meal

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 8/10/2020 Ariana Arghandewal
a plate of food on a table © Provided by The Points Guy
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Dining rewards programs continue to be one of the easiest, lucrative ways to earn miles without leaving your house. Earning miles via travel is no longer possible for most people and banks are tightening rules around credit card approvals. With mileage earnings being restricted in this way, we have to get creative and diversify our earning options. Joining a dining rewards program like Alaska’s Mileage Plan Dining is a great way to do just that. 

All you have to do is join, register a card and then watch the miles stack up as you dine at participating restaurants. You’ll even qualify for bonus miles on your first purchase and increase your earn rate when you dine frequently. Here’s everything you need to know about Alaska Airlines’ dining program.

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How to join

Joining Mileage Plan Dining is an easy three-step process. You’ll need to provide your name, contact information and Mileage Plan number. Remember to keep the box checked that indicates you want to earn 3 miles per dollar spent. Of course, this also means you’re opting in to receive emails from the program, but it’s worth it considering since you’ll six times as many miles

This is precisely why I have a separate email account for my banking and frequent flyer accounts. It ensures that my regular inbox isn’t inundated with promotional emails. You might want to do the same if you want to earn maximum rewards with Alaska Dining Plan but are worried about spam.

Related: Earn easy Hilton points by eating at your favorite restaurants

How to earn miles with Alaska’s dining program 

Earning miles with Alaska’s dining program is as simple as signing up and registering a credit or debit card to your account. This allows the program to keep track of your purchases at participating restaurants so you’ll earn Alaska miles every time (more on that later). You can search for participating restaurants by location or even name. 

The best approach is to just register a card with the program and not think about it. That way, you’re not adjusting your dining preferences just to earn miles or spending more money to do so. You’ll usually get an email notification from Mileage Plan dining, letting you know your purchase has earned miles, along with an invitation to submit a review.

a chair sitting in front of a building: Photo courtesy of Getty Images © The Points Guy Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Mileage Plan membership tiers

Alaska Mileage Plan dining has three membership tiers, earning between 1-5 Alaska miles per dollar spent:

Basic Member – 1 mile per $2 spent


Video: Simple Ways to Save a Little Cash (Buzz60)

Select Member – 3 miles per $1 spent

VIP Member – 5 miles per $1 spent

You can easily upgrade from Basic to Select membership by opting in to receive email notifications. You can do this during the sign-up process or any other time. As a Select member, you’ll not only earn more Alaska miles but also receive opportunities to earn bonus miles and advance notice of promotions.

Becoming a VIP member requires opting in to receive email notifications and completing 11 qualified transactions in a calendar year. On the 12th transaction, you’ll begin earning 5 miles per $1 spent and qualify for bonus opportunities.

It’s also worth noting that you can join every airline and hotel-affiliated dining reward program out there. However, they’re all part of the same network, so you cannot register the same card with more than one program.

Alaska Mileage Plan first-dine bonus

New members can earn up to 1,000 bonus miles after spending $30 at a participating restaurant within 30 days of joining Mileage Plan dining. You’ll also need to submit a review within 30 days of your visit to earn the first-dine bonus.

Related: Earn easy miles with the Free Spirit Dining program

Is Alaska Mileage Plan dining worth it? 

An updated cabin on one of Alaska’s A320s. (Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines) © The Points Guy An updated cabin on one of Alaska’s A320s. (Image courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

TPG values Alaska miles at 1.8 cents each, which is the highest of any frequent flyer program. So signing up for Alaska’s dining rewards program is definitely worth it. Not only does it take very little effort, but you’ll get up to a 9% return just by registering your card and using it at participating restaurants. 

Keep in mind, this is in addition to the rewards you’ll earn from your credit card – in some cases, you’ll double the rewards you would earn if you just swiped your credit card without signing up for this program. Hands down, Alaska’s dining program is one of the easiest ways to double-dip and automate your mileage earnings. 

This is a great way to keep earning miles if you’ve stopped flying due to the pandemic. Many of us are dining out more than ever and programs like this help us make the most of it. 

Related: How to earn 1,000 Southwest points the next time you dine out

Which cards to use with X dining

a person using a laptop computer sitting on top of a table: While all major credit card issuers no longer require signatures for in-person transactions, plenty of merchants still need your autograph. Image courtesy of Westend61 via Getty Images. © The Points Guy While all major credit card issuers no longer require signatures for in-person transactions, plenty of merchants still need your autograph. Image courtesy of Westend61 via Getty Images.

I recommend registering a credit card that earns bonus points on dining. This way you’ll earn more than one point per dollar spent on your credit card, in addition to the 1-5x miles you’ll earn through Mileage Plan rewards. Some great credit cards to use at restaurants include the following:

  • Citi Prestige® Card – 5x points
  • American Express® Gold Card – 4x points
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – 3x points
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card – 7x points

It’s also worth noting that several credit cards are offering limited-time dining bonuses due to the pandemic. For example, through Jan. 10, 2021, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is paying out 5x miles per dollar spent on dining as opposed to the typical 2x miles. Select Marriott cards earn up to 10x points on dining through Sept. 15, 2020.

Related: Earn extra Delta miles at your favorite local restaurants with SkyMiles Dining

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines’ dining rewards program is a great way to keep earning Alaska miles now that the pandemic has limited our options. Dining out and takeout continue to be one of the few fun activities that haven’t been completely shut down. With Alaska’s dining program you can earn up to 5x miles on takeout or on-site dining as long as you pay the restaurant directly rather than using a delivery service like UberEats. Depending on how much you spend, your pandemic-era dining purchases may turn into enough miles for a post-pandemic vacation.

Featured photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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