If you have a job or any kind of income, chances are you have a checking account. Unless you want to stuff cash under your mattresses, you need to have one. The great news is that several banks will actually to reward you with frequent-flyer miles for opening and using a checking account.
BankDirect AAdvantage Checking
I’ll be the first to admit that BankDirect‘s online banking system is outdated and not at all user friendly. It is, however, a small price to pay for a generous reward. Members can earn thousands of miles each year from their standard, everyday banking activities for a $12 monthly fee. Paying a credit card bill? It’s suddenly more rewarding thanks to a 5,000-mile bonus. These are just a few of the activities BankDirect rewards their AAdvantage Checking account holders for:
- 1,000 AAdvantage miles for opening a Mileage Checking with Interest account
- 10,000 miles for receiving direct deposits for six consecutive statement cycles, totaling at least $2,000 per month
- 5,000 miles for using online bill pay to pay three different payees a total of $500 a month for six consecutive statement cycles
- 5,000 miles for using the BankDirect Visa CheckCard debit card for at least 12 transactions totaling $500 per month for six consecutive statement cycles
- 1,000 miles when you refer a friend. You can refer up to 10 friends and you will both earn 1,000 miles or 25 or 100 miles per $1,000 on deposit each month, depending on your balance.
Because of its outdated system, BankDirect can’t automatically track most of these activities though so when they are completed you will have to call customer service and an agent will need to verify that the requirements have been met before submitting a request for a mileage payout. The monthly bonus based on account balance is the only exception to this. That will happen automatically.
Citi Gold Checking
This is not always available, but it generally comes with a fair payout for what is required: Open a Citi Gold checking account and get 10,000 to 50,000 AAdvantage miles for spending $750 to $1,000 with your debit card within 90 days. In addition, you’ll need to use the bill-pay service or receive a direct deposit to qualify for the bonus.
If you’re a Citi credit cardholder, you may receive a targeted offer in the mail. AAdvantage members who opt in for third-party notifications may also be targeted. Or try calling Citi and asking them for a bonus mile offer on the Citi Gold Checking account. Citi has been known to extend targeted offers to those who ask for them, so it’s always worth a try. The only issue to consider is that in the past, Citi has issued 1099 forms for payouts of 20,000 miles and above, alerting the Internal Revenue Service.
UFB Direct Airline Rewards Checking. They can’t compete in terms of the sign-up bonus, but it’s the only one that allows members to earn AAdvantage miles on their check card spending. Granted, it’s just a mile per $2 spent, but this can work out for the occasional purchase that can’t be made with a credit card.
Many folks like to use the UFB Direct check card to pay their taxes, since debit card transaction fees are substantially lower than credit card fees. Having a mile-earning debit card can be quite lucrative when big charges are applied. A big plus is that the UFB Direct Airline Rewards Checking account has no monthly fee.
Bank of Hawaii Bankoh Hawaiian Airlines Visa Check Card
Only residents of Hawaii are eligible for the Hawaiian Airlines Visa Check Card, which is compatible with any of the bank’s checking accounts. The card pays out one Hawaiian mile per $2 spent, and carries a $3 monthly fee. What makes this account less than ideal though is that cardholders are restricted to earning 2,500 miles per month. That’s certainly more than enough for folks who will use it only for household expenses, but for those who like to maximize mileage earning opportunities, this is a negative.