Last year I posted about the BankDirect checking account which earns you American Airline miles. I personally use it now as my primary checking account, however, wanted to let all existing and interested account holders know that: “Beginning January 1, 2012 there will be a $12 monthly fee for all Mileage Checking Accounts regardless of balances.”

Many of you have emailed me interested in opening an account and I wanted to ensure you know of this change. Even with the $12/month fee, it MIGHT still be worth it as your primary bank account. I am pretty bummed about this new fee they are tacking on, but am still going to keep my account open. I am able to earn a pretty decent number of AA miles from this and do not have to report earnings (yet) as I would with another checking account where I earn interest.

If you are interested in this online checking account, you can read a detailed prior post here. However, I will quickly recap the bonus potential for you all:

New Account Bonus:

  • Earn 1,000 miles for each new Mileage Checking Account or Mileage Money Market Account opened.
  • Earn an additional 1,000 miles for every $100,000 in initial deposit, up to $500,000, per household.
  • Earn 10,000 miles for establishing full payroll direct deposit from your employer into a Mileage Checking Account. Needs to be the full amount for three consecutive months.
  • Earn 5,000 miles for using BankDirect’s bill pay service. Need to have 3 bill pay merchants for 12 consecutive months.
  • Earn 5,000 miles for using your BankDirect Visa® CheckCard. Need 12 transactions per statement for three  consecutive months.
  • Earn 1,000 miles for referring a friend when they open a Mileage Checking account.

Ongoing Earning Potential:

  • Earn 100 miles per month for every $1,000 of the monthly average collected balance in your Mileage Checking Account up to the first $200,000 on deposit.
  • For monthly average collected balances over $200,000, earn 25 miles per $1,000 for all balances over the first $200,000 on deposit.

For example, if you have $50,000 in your checking account, you will earn 5,000 American Airline miles per month. This will result in 60,000 miles per year (enough for a round-trip ticket to Europe)! I am not going to go through the numbers and do an entire analysis of whether of not this account is worth it due to the sole fact that there are a variety of other checking accounts out there all with different interest amounts and fees tacked on. However, with a conservative 2 cents per mile, these 60,000 miles can be valued at about $1,200.

I also like how you get reimbursed for AMT withdrawals (4 per statement cycle), but I am not a fan of the site’s interface.

Just be aware of this new $12/month fee and if you are looking for a referral, feel free to email me, or find a friend to refer you for that 1,000 point bonus. Every little bit helps, right?!

  • Sheils said,

    If a married couple does direct deposit from each employer, does that mean they get 20,000 miles?

  • caveman said,

    Do you know any other bank account allowing AA miles?

  • dealswelike said,

    @Sheils – You will only get 10,000 miles per account for direct deposit. If you want to get the 20,000 miles you will need to open two accounts, one under each name.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Caveman – As of right now I do not know of any other bank accounts that give out AA miles, but I will definitely look into it more.

  • Scottrick said,

    It sounds like if you have 50K in deposits, AND you move essentially all your banking to BankDirect (3 bills for 12 months, full direct deposit for 3 months) then you *might* have close to 100K miles and one business class ticket to Europe. That just sounds like a rotten idea. Maybe right now while the stock market isn’t going anywhere, but there are probably better returns on $50K and better service at another bank.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Scottrick – The decision really depends on what you can earn elsewhere. Cannot really compare this to the stock market, as they are totally different types of account. When I was earning 5% at ING this absolutely would not have been worth it. However, now with interest rates so low it is something to consider, and in my opinion a great return on your money. Also, need to take into consideration the tax benefit. You will not pay any tax on your AA earnings .where as with a regular interest bearing account, you will. Need to take that into consideration with your analysis as well. I know there are a few other travel bloggers who use the BankDirect as their primary checking account as well, so definitely cannot be too rotten of an idea!

  • Chip said,

    I went with BankDirect in October for the points, but the fee is chasing me away at the end of the month. They shouldn’t be grabbing a fee on top of a $2500 balance. People went nuts over an avoidable $5 ATM fee with BOA…it’s funny this hasn’t seemed to have cause a blip.

  • drbench said,

    If you have a large enough balance it is still worthwhile. I have just over $200k in the account (I added $144 to cover a year of fees. This will net me 240,000 AA miles this year. I have money earning .009% at ALLY and Amex Personal Savings so I am forgoing $1800 of taxable interest by keeping my money at BankDirect. Post-tax let’s say I am giving up $1200 and paying $144 for a net cost of $1344 for 240,000 AA miles. That is a cost of just over a half a cent per mile. Of course if/when interest rates rise I will reevaluate this account but in the current interest rate environment it is still a good deal for larger balances. [With $20,000 in the account you would earn 24,000 miles in a year at a cost of about 1.1 cents per mile. This calculation only considers the monthly miles earned.]

  • dealswelike said,

    @drbench – I couldn’t agree with you more! With my personal situation as well, earning the AA miles 100% outweighs having my money in a regular checking account (Ever Bank).

  • Max M said,

    Alternative to BankDirect for AA Miles for banking—the reincarnated UFB Direct Bank:

  • Chip said,

    @drbench Or, you could take a little risk, and lend $17K at LendingClub on good risk loans (you do have to pick wisely) and make 8% interest, netting you $1360 without the $144 fee

  • dealswelike said,

    @Max M – Thanks for letting me know. Looked into it and doesn’t really seem like a great return.

  • suns said,

    Can you email me the referral link for Bank Direct.

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