Middle Age Miles

Keep or Cancel – B of A Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature personal card

Executive Summary

After my $75 annual fee posted, I canceled my Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card after holding it for one year.  I was able to keep my second-year Companion Fare without paying the second-year Annual Fee, and my Annual Fee will be refunded in full.

Analysis

I got my B of A Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card (personal version) a little over a year ago, in May 2017.  The sign-up bonus was 30,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles, plus a “free” companion certificate (buy one domestic ticket on Alaska at the regular price, get a second “companion” ticket for only the amount of the taxes and fees (typically around $22)).  The annual fee on the card is $75.

After I hit the minimum spend for the sign-up bonus, I have not used the card very much.  The only usage has been when I could use a B of A BankAmerideal to save some money; thus, my spend after receiving the sign-up bonus has been a few hundred dollars at most.

The only bonus category on the card is 3x on purchases from Alaska Airlines; all other purchases earn 1x Alaska Mileage Plan miles per dollar of spend.  At this point, we very rarely encounter any situations where paying for a ticket on Alaska makes any sense.  Most of our flights to/from the Dallas area are on American, and most of the reciprocal mileage-earning and elite recognition agreements between American and Alaska ended in late 2017.

In other words, we had very little use for the card going forward.

One of the primary benefits of this card is receiving “Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™” every year.  As the Bank of America website describes it: “EACH YEAR on your account anniversary get a companion fare from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22). Valid on all Alaska flights booked on alaskaair.com with no blackout dates.”  The Companion Fare is limited to flights on Alaska metal.  This is indeed a nice benefit, and it could certainly justify the $75 annual fee for anyone who flies Alaska with a companion at least once a year.  For us, the Companion Fare had limited benefit.

But importantly, our second-year Companion Fare showed up in my Alaska Mileage Plan account before the second-year annual fee posted.  The exact timeline was as follows:

  • May 5, 2018 – One-year anniversary of account approval date
  • May 14, 2018 – Companion Fare posted to my Alaska Mileage Plan account
  • May 31, 2018 – $75 Annual Fee posted
  • June 7, 2018 – Statement closed that includes the charge for the Annual Fee
  • July 4, 2018 – Payment due date for Statement with Annual Fee

Thus, I had the Companion Fare safely tucked away in my Mileage Plan account a full 24 days before the statement including the Annual Fee closed, and 51 days before the payment due date for the Annual Fee.  There was no need to pay the second-year Annual Fee in order to get the second-year Companion Fare.

For me, given these circumstances it was a no-brainer to close the account.  When I called in to Bank of America to close the card, the customer service rep confirmed that the Annual Fee will be automatically refunded.  There would be no need for me to pay the statement balance and wait for a refund.  This was very helpful.

For what it’s worth, the customer service rep told me that annual fees are automatically refunded if the account is closed within 60 days from when the annual fee posted.  (I’m not entirely sure this is a universal rule.  I read a data point on Reddit Churning just yesterday where someone posted that B of A would not refund their annual fee.  The report was that the B of A rep said that the annual fee could not be refunded because the poster had already received the second-year Companion Fare.  In that case, the poster product-changed to a B of A Travel Rewards card.  This had made me anxious about calling in, but as I’ve reported above, my experience was completely different.)

B of A did not extend any retention offer for the card, although in fairness I didn’t fish for one.

Another factor that motivated me to simply close the card was that, to my understanding, this card is churnable.  If I so choose, I should be able to apply for another B of A Alaska Airlines personal Visa card, and I should be eligible to receive another sign-up bonus (still 30,000 miles at the moment).  I would probably wait at least 45-60 days to do this, to give my old card time to clear from B of A’s system, although it’s probably not technically necessary to wait.

 

What is your strategy with respect to B of A Alaska Airlines Visa cards?  Let us know in the comments!

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