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Earning miles is usually based on spending, whether buying plane tickets or making purchases with an airline credit card. But American Airlines has two opportunities that let you earn AAdvantage miles while you save money: a Bask Bank savings account or a Citi Priority Checking account.
If opening one (or both) of these accounts makes sense for you, by the time you’ve planned and budgeted for your next trip, you may have not only earned some extra miles for your next award flight but also saved some money for the vacation.
Here’s what you need to know about American Airlines’ partnership with Bask Bank and Citibank.
» Learn more: The NerdWallet guide to American Airlines AAdvantage
Bask Bank savings accounts
When you open a savings account with Bask Bank, you can elect to earn American Airlines miles, instead of the 0.80% annual percentage yield interest.
The earnings are simple: Members will earn 1 AAdvantage mile for every dollar deposited in your account per year. Here’s how the math works, according to Bask Bank’s website:
"Miles are accrued daily and awarded monthly based on your average monthly balance. For example, if the account’s average monthly balance for January is $60K, you will earn 5,096 AAdvantage® miles for that month ($60K ÷ 365 × 31). If that same balance is maintained in February, you will earn 4,603 AAdvantage® miles. After one year of maintaining an average balance of $60,000, the customer will have earned 60,000 AAdvantage® miles."
As an example, let’s say your goal is to earn 70,000 miles so you can fly on Qatar Airways’ famous QSuites from the U.S. to the Maldives. If you have $60,000 in your Bask Bank savings account as of Jan. 1, 2022, and you maintain that balance every month, you’ll earn enough miles in March 2023 — or sooner if you earn additional miles through other means.
As with the opening of some airline credit cards, there’s a sign-up bonus offer when you open a Bask Bank savings account. At the time of writing, the existing offer was an extra 1,000 miles if you held a balance of $5,000 for 30 days within 60 days of opening your account.
» Learn more: The best travel credit card welcome bonuses right now
Why earning American Airlines miles with Bank Bank may be a great option
It’s a passive way to earn miles. Take a page out of the Investing 101 book: One popular piece of advice (particularly for beginners) is to “set it and forget it.” This is what you’re practicing with a Bask Bank savings account. If you have money that you want to set aside, you can leave it in this account and earn miles while you sleep.
Bask Bank interest rates are low right now. Currently, interest rates on typical savings accounts are fairly low. The national average for APY is 0.06%. Bank Bank also offers an account that earns 0.70% APY, but you cannot earn miles and interest, you’d have to choose one of the two. Compare that to American Airlines AAdvantage miles, which are worth about 1.2 cents cents each. Using that calculation, you’d earn the equivalent of 1.2% interest on your Bask Bank account (or almost twice as much as you’d earn from keeping your money in a high-earning savings account).
Bask Bank is FDIC insured so your money is safe. You may not have heard of Bask Bank before, but that doesn't mean it’s not safe to keep your savings there. It’s an all-digital bank owned by Texas Capital Bank, which has been around for more than 20 years. It’s a member of the FDIC, so your money, up to $250,000, is insured. There are no fees.
When earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles with Bask Bank may not make sense
Below are some reasons why you might want to avoid opening a Bask Bank account that earns AAdvantage miles instead of interest:
You don’t have enough savings to earn enough AAdvantage miles to redeem on flights.
You don’t fly often and don’t anticipate needing (or wanting) to redeem AAdvantage miles for a flight.
You plan on transferring money into or out of your Bask Bank account frequently (Bask Bank has a cap of three online transfers per month with savings accounts).
You rely on the interest on your savings account to pay for expenses.
Have a clear picture of your finances and think about your financial and travel goals before signing up for a Bask Bank account.
Citi Priority checking accounts
There's a unique banking option available to certain American Airlines cardholders. Citi is the American Airlines-branded credit card issuer, and the bank targets some cardholders for bonus miles when they open a Citi checking account. Offers range from 5,000 to 60,000 miles and usually require meeting a minimum spend in debit card purchases and making at least one qualifying bill payment for two consecutive months.
Log into your Citi account and navigate to the “Offers For You” page under the “Rewards & Benefits” tab on the menu to check if you’re eligible for this offer.
My offer looked like this:
» Learn more: The complete guide to redeeming American Airlines miles
Why earning American Airlines miles with a Citi checking account may not make sense
The eye-popping bonuses of 50,000+ miles are attractive, but there are downsides to this strategy for earning extra AA miles.
This points-earning-strategy may require a hefty investment on your part. For example, the Citi Priority account has a monthly service fee of $30 if you don’t maintain a combined average monthly balance of at least $50,000 in eligible linked deposit, retirement and investment accounts. If you don’t have the account balance minimum, you’ll want to consider a different Citi checking account to avoid the fees.
Final thoughts on earning American Airlines miles with Citi or Bask Bank
American Airlines offers unique opportunities to earn miles by saving instead of spending. Earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles with your savings or checking account can be an excellent option for some travelers, especially with the current low-interest rates. But before you decide to open an account with Bask Bank and start earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles, you should consider your current financial situation and travel goals.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card