This is the eleventh post on earning miles and points. For a list of other posts, check out my post on how to travel hack your way around the world.
While credit cards represent the easiest way to collect miles and points, changing the way you bank can be a really easy way to passively accumulate boatloads of miles.
Banking & Brokerage Services
If you have money to invest or save and you live in the United States, you have a few options for earning miles. Especially if you are interested in accumulating American Airlines miles:
Earn up to 23,000 AAdvantage miles by opening a Bank Direct account:
- 1,000 miles for opening a new account
- 1,000 miles if you are referred by a friend (plus 1,000 for the friend)
- 1,000 miles if you open the account with $100,000 or more
- 10,000 miles for enrolling in direct deposit
- 5,000 miles for using their debit card 12 times a month for 3 months
- 5,000 miles for using bill pay for at least 3 payments a month for a year.
*UPDATE* Bank Direct has reduced the cap on the amount of miles you can earn based on the money you have deposited from $200,000 to $50,000. So you’ll only earn 100 miles per $1000 for the first $50,000, after which you’ll earn 25 miles for each additional $1000 in your account.
This reduces the maximum you can (easily) earn in a month from 20,000 to 5,000. You can also open a Money Market account, which earns 50 miles per $1000 in your account for the first $50,000, which will net you 2500 miles a month.
I can still do referrals if anyone is interested, but with the new changes BD isn’t quite as attractive as it used to be.
Additionally, you’ll receive 100 miles every month for every $1,000 you have deposited in your account, up to the first $200,000. Mrs. Selfish and I bank with Bank Direct and thus far I can offer up two downsides:
1) $12 Monthly Fee – this occurs no matter how much money you have in your account, and cannot be waived.
2) Unfortunately Bank Direct has to have the clunkiest interfaces of any banking site I’ve ever seen. If you can get around that their customer service is decent, though expect to speak to one of 6 representatives – seriously, their company is that small.
Analysis: If you’re a high roller with a lot of money in savings I would strongly consider opening a Bank Direct account. Being able to earn 240,000 miles for little to no effort definitely outweighs the $144 you’ll pay in annual fees in my opinion, and interest rates are at an all time low. To put that in perspective, 240,000 miles is enough for 9 round trip tickets across the continental US, or for a first class ticket to anywhere in the world with points to spare.
If anyone is interested in a referral, leave a comment and we’ll hook you up – Mrs. Selfish and I could always use the extra 1,000 miles!
If you have stocks or mutual funds Fidelity will give you up to 50,000 miles in American, Delta, or United when you open a new account or fund a new account with $100,000 worth of assets. This could be with cash, stocks, or mutual funds.
This is especially easy (or at least less painful) with stocks or mutual funds. If you don’t have a Fidelity account, simply open an account and have Fidelity transfer the existing shares or funds from your other account.
Miles typically post a few weeks after the funds have deposited. Keep in mind that the funds will have to stay in Fidelity for a minimum of 6 months, otherwise they will charge you the cost of the miles.
Analysis: If you need miles fast and have the resources this can be a quick way to get them. Better yet, if you have stocks in a competitor (like Ameritrade) this is a really easy option to earn miles for free! Since this promotion is limited to one use per year, it’s also possible to deposit funds for 6 months, remove them, then redeposit after the 1-year anniversary for another bonus – just keep in mind Fidelity might not be too keen in that should they figure out what’s going on.