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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 a few opportunities for you to earn AAdvantage miles while you save money.
Two banks allow you to uniquely earn AAdvantage miles — by keeping money in your savings or checking account. So 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 itself.
Here’s what you need to know about the ways to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles while saving.
Open a savings account with Bask Bank
When you open a savings account with Bask Bank, you’ll earn miles instead of interest.
The earnings are simple: Members will earn 1 AAdvantage mile for every dollar deposited in their account per year. Here’s how the math works, according to Bask Bank’s website:
“On or before the fifth business day of every month, you will receive American Airlines AAdvantage miles equal to your account’s average balance from the month prior. Keep in mind that miles are accrued daily. To calculate the number of miles you’ll earn per month, take your monthly average balance ÷ 365 × the number of days in each month. For example, if you deposit $50,000 in January, you will earn 4,247 miles for that month.”
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 $50,000 in your Bask savings account as of Jan. 1, 2022, and you maintain that balance every month, you’ll earn enough miles by June 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 AAdvantage miles with your savings account 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 exactly 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.
Interest rates are low right now
Currently, interest rates on typical savings accounts are fairly low. The national average for APY is just 0.06%. Even some of the best savings accounts offer only about 0.50% APY. Compare that to American Airlines AAdvantage miles, which are are worth about 1.2 cents each, according to NerdWallet’s latest valuation.
Using that calculation, you’d earn the equivalent of 1.2% interest on your Bask Bank account (or more than twice as much as you’d earn from keeping your money in a high-earning savings account).
Keep in mind that interest rates on savings accounts change with time, so if you do decide to use Bask Bank, you should keep an eye on interest rates to make sure you’re still getting a good deal.
Your money is safe
You may not have heard of Bask Bank before, but that shouldn’t mean it’s not safe to keep your savings there. It’s an all-digital bank owned by parent company 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, and you can open an account and deposit money at your leisure.
When earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles with your savings account may not make sense
With interest rates so low right now, earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles with your savings account is a compelling option, but it may not make sense for everyone. Below are some reasons why you might want to avoid opening a Bask Bank account earning 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 3 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.
Open a Citi Priority Checking account
There's also another 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:
The eye-popping bonuses of 50,000+ miles may require a hefty investment on your part. For example, the Citi Priority account has a monthly service fee of $30 if you do not maintain a combined average monthly balance of at least $50,000 in eligible linked deposit, retirement and investment accounts. If you do not have the account balance minimum, you’ll want to consider a different Citi checking account to avoid the fees.
» Learn more: The complete guide to redeeming American Airlines miles
The bottom line
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 travelers, especially with the current low-interest rates. That said, 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 your 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 2021, 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