I’ve Earned Over 150,000 American Airlines Miles With My Checking Account

I’ve written about Bankdirect before, but not much and not in awhile (e.g. here).

In a low interest rate environment, a BankDirect checking account is especially attractive. And I’ve been thoroughly happy with them for the past six years.

BankDirect offers online mileage checking, as well as other products (I’ve only been a customer for their checking). They don’t have physical branches, at least outside of Texas. In exchange for that, though, they offer a huge set of benefits compared to a regular brick and mortar bank checking account. I do need to keep a $2500 average balance to avoid fees, but I do that anyway. They offer:

  • 1000 miles for opening the account.
  • 5000 miles for payroll direct deposit.
  • 2000 miles for using billpay for 12 months
  • 1000 extra miles if you’re referred by an existing customer (the referrer gets 1000 bonus miles too, I’m happy to refer you of course, just shoot me an email at gleff -at- yahoo.com with the email address you plan to use to sign up.
  • 100 American Airlines miles per $1000 average balance each month (so a $5000 average balance means 500 miles, which becomes 6000 over the course of a year)
  • They waive transaction fees for using out-of-network ATMs, but more importantly they reimburse the fees those ATMs charge you (up to $2.50 per transactions, 4 times per statement). The first check order is free.I’ve also always had good customer service. In fact, they’ve never charged me fees for bank checks or overnighting documents, even though they’re supposed to. Perhaps I’ve just gotten lucky.

    The account does pay a miniscule amount of interest. But in a low interest rate environment, it’s all about the miles. Interest is taxed, miles are not. And with rates as they are, I’m not giving up much that I’d gain with a higher interest earning checking.

    Amazingly enough I’ve earned well over 150,000 American Airlines miles from my BankDirect checking account. And not from referrals, either, mostly from the churn of depositing expense reimbursement checks and holding the funds until my credit card statement is due. What has your checking account gotten you?

    I don’t mind online banking at all, I don’t miss a brick and mortar location. I mail in my deposits in prepaid envelopes provided by the bank for free. The only downside to online banking is that I can’t walk into a BankDirect branch to deposit Presidential Dollar Coins ordered from the US Treasury.

    Of course for that I could still maintain a free checking relationship with the bank next door to my office… But I’m happy with BankDirect as my primary checking account institution.

  • About Gary Leff

    Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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    1. do the miles you earn in this program help move you up to an elite level, like gold or platinum status–I can’t find any information that says it won’t

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