MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard Review

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is one of the most underrated but powerful travel credit cards in Canada.

I certainly hadn’t heard of it before I got into the travel hacking game!

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard really only benefits people living in Western Canada. For Western Canadians, the MBNA Alaska Mastercard is the best travel card in Canada for inexpensive reward flights to Asia. Alaska Airlines has a sweet spot from Western Canada to Asia you can take advantage of, and the trip costs you far fewer points than on any other airline. The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is a secret tool that makes travel to Asia more accessible than ever!

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard comes with other benefits like a 30,000 points sign-up bonus, a companion fare, and free checked luggage that only sweeten the deal.

It is a more advanced travel credit card, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time!

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is one of the first travel credit cards I got, and I love it.

It isn’t for everybody, but if you’re a Western Canadian looking to travel to Asia or Western United States, this is a great option for you!

I have to admit that I’ve flown Alaska Airlines a number of times and think they are an underrated carrier in North America. I’ve always had good service, and the staff are so kind!

Highlights

The MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard has similar benefits to the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard.

Just like the RBC Westjet Mastercard, it lacks a little bit in the points earning categories.

But it makes up for it with the other benefits offered with the card.

Some of the top highlights of the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard are:

  • 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles sign-up bonus
  • Free first checked bag for you and up to 6 guests on the same reservation
  • Complimentary “world famous” companion fare awarded each year you hold the card
  • 3 miles for every $1 spent at Alaska Airlines
  • 1 mile for every $1 spent on every other purchase
MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Pros and Cons of the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Pros

  • Great redemption price for flights to and from Asia
  • Free checked luggage and companion fare
  • Decent points earning on Alaska Airlines purchases

Cons

  • Points most beneficial to people living in Western Canada
  • Very high minimum income requirement
  • Bad points earning on non-Alaska Airlines purchases

Points

You earn Alaska Airlines miles with the MBNA Alaska Mastercard.

The best part about Alaska Airlines miles that they can be used to book on a plethora of partner airlines. The redemption rate for partner airline flights are significantly lower than you will find with other programs.

You get a ton of benefit out of Alaska Airlines miles, and you get a pretty high value per mile when you book with a partner airline.

Unlike some other credit card points, you don’t transfer your Alaska Airlines miles to partner programs.

Instead you go through the Alaska Airlines portal and redeem your miles on partner airlines directly through Alaska Airlines.

It eliminates that pesky middle step of transferring points from one program to another, which is sometimes a headache.

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Sign-Up Bonus

The sign-up bonus on the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles.

This is a very generous sign-up bonus, and you can do a lot with those points!

Here are a few examples of what 30,000 Alaska Airlines miles can get you (as of January 2021):

  • One-way economy flight from Western Canada to Asia on Cathay Pacific
  • One-way economy flight from Western Canada to Europe on American Airlines
  • One-way business class flight from Western Canada to South America Zone One (e.g. Ecuador)

Not too shabby, eh!

To get your sign-up bonus points, you have to spend $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days of opening it.

That’s pretty doable for most people!

Just make sure you have a plan and budget to spend $1,000 in the first three months of having the card. You don’t want to miss out on getting your sign-up bonus!

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Earning Points

The points earning structure on the MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard is pretty straightforward and easy to keep track of!

You earn:

  • 3 points for every $1 spent at Alaska Airlines (including purchasing points and gift cards)
  • 1 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases

As you can see, the points earning on everyday purchases is pretty sad.

It takes a long time to earn any significant amount of points if you use the MBNA Alaska Mastercard for everyday purchases.

For that reason, I don’t recommend using this card for everyday purchases once you spent enough on the card to get the sign-up bonus.

There are other credit cards on the market that give you a much higher reward in everyday spending categories.

You may be interested in the American Express Cobalt card if you spend a lot of groceries and dining out. You can read my full review of the card here.

When I hold the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard in my wallet, I spend when I need to meet the minimum spend and then tuck the card away.

After that, I only use it for Alaska Airlines purchases.

The value just isn’t there in the everyday spending categories.

I don’t anticipate MBNA increasing the points offered on everyday spending, but it would be nice if they did!

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Redeeming Points

This is where things get fun!

Redeeming Alaska Airlines miles is very easy and most redemptions can be done via the Alaska Airlines website.

There are a few exceptions where you have to call to redeem points, but they are few and far between.

Alaska Airlines is one of the few airlines that still allows one-way stopovers, and you need to call them to book a trip with a stopover.

Speaking of stopovers, the offering of a one-way stopover is one of the best features of the Alaska Airlines program!

You have the option to book a one-way flight with a stopover in a city for up to 364 days. This means you can fly from North America to Hong Kong, spend a few weeks or months in Asia, and then continue your booking and fly from Hong Kong to Dubai, South America, or Israel.

All for one low, low price!

The redemption process outside of booking a stopover on a one-way flight is very easy. As I said above, most of your bookings can easily be done alone through the Alaska Airlines website!

You simply sign into your Alaska Airlines account, go to the redeem points section, and search for the flight you want.

Once you select your flight, you book it as you would book any normal flight. The only difference is you use your points to pay rather than fiat money.

There may be some taxes and fees to pay on top of your point redemption, but they will be negligible.

The entire process is seamless, and it is nice to have everything on the Alaska Airlines portal and not have to worry about transferring points to a different program.

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Best Way to Redeem Alaska Airlines Miles

The Alaska Airlines miles program has two sweet spots where you get a really high value per point:

  • Flying any class of service from Western North America to Asia
  • Flying economy from Western Canada to Western United States destinations

One-way economy flights from Vancouver to Asia start at just 35,000 Alaska Airlines miles and business class flights start at just 50,000!

That’s a very good redemption price. One of the best in the industry by far!

One-way flights from Canada to the US start at just 5,000 miles!

I highly recommend you use your Alaska Airlines miles to redeem for travel to either Asia or the US. It is by far the best value per point and some of the best value in the entire industry!

That being said, it is always better to use your points for something than to let them gather dust.

You lose your miles if there is no activity in your account for two years. That means if you don’t earn or spend miles for two years, you lose them all!

Don’t let that happen!

A lot of times people in the travel hacking game try to squeeze the very most value out of every single point and end up not using their points because they haven’t found the perfect value for them yet.

Don’t be that person!

Find the best way to use your miles that compliments your travel style and needs.

Don’t go booking a flight to Asia you don’t want to take just because it is one of the best ways to use your miles!

Do what is right for you and your travel style, and that is the ultimate best use of your points!

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Worst Way to Redeem Alaska Airlines Miles

You have the option to redeem Alaska Airlines miles for hotel rooms, and that is the worst way to redeem your miles.

You simply don’t get a very good value per point when you redeem Alaska Airlines miles for hotel stays.

While there may be different flight paths that give you the highest value per point, no matter what flight you book, you will get a value for a flight than you do for a hotel room.

So keep it simple and use your Alaska Airlines miles for flights and don’t even think about using your miles to book a hotel stay.

There are better credit cards for that! Check out the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard or Marriott Bonvoy American Express card if you want to redeem points for hotel stays!

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Annual Fee

The annual fee on the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is $99.

That is a very fair rate and one of the lowest annual fees on a travel credit card in Canada!

To make the deal even sweeter, if you apply for the card through the Great Canadian Rebates link, you get $50 back on your annual fee!

It does take two billing cycles for your rebate to show on your MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard statement. Be sure to contact Great Canadian Rebates within 3 months if your rebate doesn’t show on your card statement!

Effectively, your annual fee for the first year of holding this card is $49!

That is a tiny price to pay for all the benefits you get out of the card!

Qualifications

You have to meet the following requirements to be eligible for the MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard:

  • Be the age of majority in your home province
  • Be a Canadian resident
  • Have a Canadian credit profile
  • Have a minimum personal income of $80,000 or minimum household income of $150,000
  • Abide by the 5/24 rule where you haven’t applied for more than 5 credit cards in the past 24 months

Just like every other time a credit card issuer demands such a high minimum income for approval, I’m going to complain about it.

I hate these high minimum income requirements, and I wish banks would do away with them.

The discriminate against young people, single people, women, and less educated people.

Just because you’re underpayed at your job doesn’t mean you aren’t good with your money and you don’t deserve a premium travel credit card.

Having a high minimum income requirement that is significantly higher than the income of an average Canadian is an outdated practice that should be done away with!

Don’t let a credit card issuer make you feel bad about yourself just because you don’t meet their minimum income requirements!

It is their problem and not yours.

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MBNA’s 5/24 Rule

MBNA is the only credit issuer in Canada that has a rule surrounding how many credit inquiries you can have on your profile.

No matter how good your credit score, MBNA will not approve you for one of their credit cards if you have more than 5 hard credit inquiries in the past 24 months.

This means you have to be strategic when applying for MBNA credit cards.

The best strategy is to apply for the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard at the start of your travel hacking journey, so you don’t get denied.

After you’re done with the Alaska Airlines Mastercard, call MBNA and downgrade your card to the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard (read the review here).

This allows you to have a profile open with MBNA at all times, and you can use that to your advantage in the future.

If you want to sign up for the MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard again in the future and are denied because of the 5/24 rule, there is a way around it!

Simply call MBNA and ask them to split the credit from the MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard with the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard.

MBNA is normally more than happy to do that, and you beat the system to get the credit card you want!

Who Should Get the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Canadians living in the western provinces can benefit from the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard.

It is especially useful for people who want to travel to Asia or to Western United States destinations.

Asia and Western United States destinations are where you’ll find the best value for your points, and you can easily take advantage of them as a Western Canadian.

It is also a great option for travel hackers that have taken advantage of some of the more traditional and well known travel credit cards in Canada.

The MBNA Alaska Airlines Mastercard offers unique redemption opportunities for a very fair price.

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Who Should NOT Get the MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Anybody who lives in Eastern Canada probably isn’t going to find much value out of this card.

There are some flights from Eastern Canada to Europe or South America you can hop on, but the you miss out on the best sweet spots of the program.

If you live in Eastern Canada and want to travel to Europe, there are better cards on the market. Any card that gets you British Airways Avios miles is your best option.

They have fabulous redemption prices from Eastern Canada to Western Europe.

Cards like the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite, HSBC World Elite Mastercard, or American Express Gold are great options for earning Avios miles.

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Conclusion

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is a hidden gem in the Canadian travel hacking game.

It is super underrated and offers a lot of benefits for a relatively low cost.

If you use the Great Canadian Rebates link, you’re paying a $49 annual fee and getting hundreds of dollars of benefits out of the card.

It is hard to beat that!

I personally use my Alaska Airlines miles to book a business class one-way stopover trip from Vancouver to Hong Kong and then Hong Kong to Dubai.

I think it is the best way to use your Alaska Airlines miles, and gives you the most value per point.

The MBNA Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard is very user friendly (minus the minimum income requirement). You only have to spend $1,000 on the card to get the sign-up bonus, and MBNA is helpful when you want to change products and transfer credit limits.

This is a genuinely good credit card for Canadians and a very good an underrated points program.

Most people don’t realize how versatile the Alaska Airlines program is, and how easily it can be leveraged to book the trip of your dreams!