I've written previously about my experiences with the Bank of America Alaska Airlines credit card. While it doesn't come with the biggest sign-up bonus nor have the best bonuses on spend, you still get a ton of bang for your buck. For the $75 annual fee, you'll receive 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles along with a Coach Companion Fare which let's you add a companion to any trip for just $118 round-trip. Oh, and the card is extremely churnable, with reports that it's possible to get a new one every 90 days.
I received an unexpected surprise in my email this morning with a bonus offer for a $50 flight discount after spending $500 on the card. But wait, but there's some fine print - the spend must be at qualifying book, toy, electronics, sporting goods and department stores from the day you activate through December 31, 2014. The categories seemed a bit odd to me, so here's the exact definition on what is included:
"*To be eligible for this offer, your account must be open with charging privileges and you must activate this offer by December 31, 2014. You will receive a $50 flight discount code on future travel if from the date you activate this offer through December 31, 2014, you make purchases of $500 or more at merchants which are assigned one of the following specified merchant category codes ("MCC"): Department Stores (5311), Electronics Stores (5732), Computer Software Stores (5734), Hobby, Toy and Game Shops (5945), Book Stores (5942), Sporting Goods Stores (5941) and Sports Apparel, Riding Apparel Stores (5655), each an "eligible purchase" for this offer. Please note that this list does not include MCC(s) commonly assigned to large discount retailers that are often referred to as "big box" stores or "superstores". Although we do not determine which MCC a merchant chooses to classify itself, merchants are generally classified based upon their primary line of business. Purchases made at merchants that do not process transactions under these codes, credits, returns, adjustments, purchases of cash equivalents, fees, interest charges and fraudulent transactions will not qualify. We reserve the right to verify eligibility of all transactions. If your account is converted to a different rewards program or to a card without a rewards program during the offer timeframe, the offer is no longer valid. Allow up to 12 weeks from the end of the promotion for the $50 flight discount code to appear in your Alaska Airlines Mileage PlanTM online account. You must use 'My Account' to access the $50 flight discount code at www.alaskaair.com/myaccount. The discount code can only be used on Alaska Airlines flights and is not valid on partner airlines. The $50 flight discount code expires on 12/31/15."
It certainly doesn't hurt to register, but if you plan to meet the $500 spend requirement, make sure to take into account the MCC code when planning your purchases. For me, the easiest category of the group looks like department stores.
There was one more piece of information in the email that jumped out to me:
"The value of this reward may constitute taxable income to you. You may be issued an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 (or other appropriate form) that reflects the value of such reward. Please consult your tax advisor, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide tax advice."
The wording is extremely vague and doesn't provide any details, but tt's the first time I've seen this type of language in a bonus offer. Hopefully it's not a sign of things to come, especially as the discussion around the taxability of miles starts to gain steam.