Earn American Airlines Miles with the UFB Direct Airlines Rewards Debit Card

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 Debit Cards

Many folks don’t want to sign-up for credits cards because they have a low credit score (you shouldn’t sign up for credit cards with a score below 700) or because they don’t want the temptation of being able to spend more than what’s in their bank accounts.  You just won’t get ahead paying interest on your credit cards, so it is best to NOT sign-up for credit cards if you can’t pay your balance in full each month.

UFB Direct Airlines Rewards Debit Card

However, there are a few debit cards which let you earn miles for using them.  I’ve written previously about the Delta debit card and the Alaska Airlines debit card.  Of course, putting your actual spending on a debit card won’t get you as many miles and points as signing-up for credit cards and getting 50,000 point sign-up bonuses.

As I tell folks during my introduction to miles and points at conferences: The average American household earns ~$50,000 a year, so if you spend everything on a credit or debit card, you’ll earn only 50,000 miles and points (assuming 1 mile per $1 spent), which is enough for only 2 domestic tickets.

But something is better than nothing.  For most folks, you get a better return by going after credit card sign-up bonuses, but that option is not available to all Americans.


The UFB Direct Airlines Rewards debit card (which earns American Airlines miles) is only available for personal (not business) checking accounts with UFB Direct bank.

You can use American Airlines miles for flights on American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and other oneworld and non-oneworld airline partners.

1,000 Mile Sign-up Bonus:   You get 1,000 American Airlines miles for having a direct deposit of $1,000 or more in any 1 one month.  I transferred money from my Bank Direct account (which also earns American Airlines miles), and it counted as my direct deposit requirement.

Fees:  There is NO annual fee for the debit card and there is NO minimum bank account balance required.  However, the minimum opening balance is $100.  You also get reimbursed for unlimited ATM withdrawals except international ATM withdrawals.

Earning Miles:  Earn 1 American Airlines mile per $2 spent.  This isn’t as good as the earnings ratio on the Delta personal debit card where you earn 1 Delta miles per $1 spent, but depending on how you redeem your miles, American  Airlines miles could be more valuable.

The terms say:

Earning miles/points is automatic — when opening your account you just select your participating Airline* and enter your Mileage Rewards number. Your airline miles accumulate as you use your debit card for Point of Sale (POS) transactions. Limited to earning 120,000 Miles/Points per calendar year.

I did earn miles for using my UFB Direct Airlines Rewards debit card to make a small tax payment.  Earning miles for just a $3.49 flat fee when you pay your taxes with Pay USA tax is a good deal, but it could end without any notice.

However, readers have pointed out there is a $1,500 daily transaction limit, so you likely won’t be able to make large tax payments.

Limits:  The terms say that you can’t earn more than 120,000 American Airlines miles in a calendar year (excluding the sign-up bonus).  This means that you won’t earn miles for spending more than $240,000 in a calendar year.  And like most debit cards there is a daily maximum to the amount of purchases you can make.

Bottom Line

You earn less miles with a debit card than with a credit card and consumer protections are usually weaker with a debit card.  But this could be useful for folks who don’t or can’t apply for credit cards.

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54 responses to “Earn American Airlines Miles with the UFB Direct Airlines Rewards Debit Card

  1. Just curious, what was your own reason for signing up for this card? Was it just research for the blog, or is there any reason people who do work credit card signups successfully would be interested?

  2. where do you see that it says american airlines?

  3. Which do you think would earn more points, $5000 run thru this debit card or $5000 using Bank Direct? versus cost involved with BD?

  4. This debit card has more potential than 5k in Bank Direct.

  5. considering Alaskan Airlines has $30 annual fee with BOA and Suntrust has $75 annual fee. This with no Annual fee would put you ahead for most middle class families or people who want to try to pay for money orders with their debit cards to pay off their credit cards.

    If miles were 1 cent a piece in value which is pretty close to the average you would need to spend $7500 just to break even, while this should get points right from the start. So for low middle class or low class families this would be ideal, also 50k income shouldn’t mean you should spend 50k a year, hopefully you keep atleast 10k a year.

    Although Skymiles should workout the best out of all of them, for a single guy or girl UNF should be pretty nice. I know I have quite a few friends who only make 12-15k a year which would mean they would average around the same but with no annual fee headaches.

  6. Would we be able to acquire checks and pay rent for miles?

  7. I think I many people would rather have 1% cashback than .5 miles, but depends how much you value miles. For me, I’d rather get 4 or 5X off everything with a little work.

  8. Anon generally people seem to use these debits to buy money orders . Some places will allow money order purchases on debit, so you could get points for using your credit card then get miles to pay your credit cards 😉 although if you wanted cash back you could probably use your paypal debit card which earns 1% cash back.

  9. Hi,

    I recently got this debit card– do you know how long it takes for the miles to post? I bought some money orders last week w/ the card at the post office but haven’t seen online whether or not I earned miles for the purchase.

  10. D, have you used this to load BB(amex) at Walmart? Thanks.

  11. 1) Can we fund the initial deposit from a CC? I am working on meeting minimum spend on SPG AmEx.
    2) It’s about time we got a rewards debit card since our grocery store doesn’t accept credit cards.

  12. to Ed, this card cant be funded with cc, two, you should try to read the wells fargo page.

  13. Don’t expect you could use the card to make large purchases or tax payment as the daily purchase transaction limit is $1500 only. I talked to the customer service and tried to raise the limit but failed. The CSR told me it’s set to prevent fraud and they could not change it.

  14. Daraius ,
    Could you please advise me if I get a hard pull on my CR if I apply
    for this card as it asks for the SS # ?
    Many thanks

    • @DaveS – Blog research!

      @alex – It only lets you select American Airlines when you sign up for an account.

      – You’d earn miles just for keeping a balance at Bank Direct whereas you wouldn’t earn miles with UFB Direct Bank unless you spent money on their debit card.

      @Anon – You can get checks for free, but sending a check won’t earn miles. But a money order would…

      @Stephanie – It usually posts during the first week of the next month in my experience.

      @jo – It works…

      @Ed L – I wasn’t able to fund my initial deposit with a credit card.

      @audisfo – Thanks for the update!

      @stefan – It was a soft pull for me.

  15. On those rare occasions where a decent cash back bonus can’t be attained or a decent mileage-earning credit card can’t be used (i.e. Sam’s Club), a Bankoh Hawaiian Airlines debit card can be used. Like, UFB, it offers 1 mile per 2 dollars spent as well. With Bank of Hawaii, Alaska Airlines, BankDirect and UFB debit cards on hand, one could transfer a lot of money to Bluebird without arousing suspicion.

  16. BofH charges $3/month for their debit/check card. UFB is a better card as no fees – and AA are arguably better miles.

  17. So does this work for BB at Wally World?

  18. @Nathan I don’t see why it wouldn’t. I am a little new to this great site, but that is what I am envisioning using this card for after I apply.

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  20. do you earn miles by funding BB with this debit card?

  21. I got flagged for using UFB debit card with blue bird at Walmart. They are ending the miles program for me. I will be closing the account as I do not need this other than for miles.

  22. Darius…do you know if VR could be used to load the UFB debit card at Wally World? And, would this count as a BB direct deposit (above and beyond the $5k VR limit)?

    • @Carol – If you have a Vanilla Reload, you can load your Bluebird online without having to go to a Wal-Mart at vanillareload.com Otherwise, you can use the UFB debit card in Wal-Mart to reload your Bluebird.

  23. How do you go about paying your credit card with a points earning debit card? I have talked to a Chase representative on the phone and they have informed me that the credit card bill can only be paid with a checking acct(having a routing number). The debit card I am referring to is the Perkstreet.com card that offers 1% back on all purchases made ONLY with the debit card. The checking account attached to the card does not count.


  24. Do you earn miles with pin-based transactions?

  25. How long does it usually take for miles to post? Is there any place on UFB site where it shows how many miles have been earned? I have not seen that on my statement.

  26. I have been unable to find a list of participating airlines. Do you know what airlines other than AA can accrue miles?

  27. Here’s a data point for you …

    My first month’s points have posted from my UFB account. In that month I made exactly two transactions: one for $1.72 and one for $3.83. I would have EXPECTED to see 6 points post, yet only 4 did. I suspect this means that the $1.72 transaction did not earn points while the $3.83 transaction did.

    I can’t recall whether those transactions were signature-based or PIN based. Does anyone else have evidence to support the posting of points only for one or the other?

  28. It seems I did not receive any miles for funding BB at walmart (PIN based) with UFB…

  29. After having the now-defunct debit cards from Chase UA, Citi AA and B of A Alaska and getting stut down by Suntrust Delta before I ever started, I’m looking for a new mileage earning debit for WM MOs. Looks like this card may or may not work. Any recent experiences ?

  30. Has anyone received miles recently from them? My last miles posting was on 4/30. since then no miles. I have spent avg $5000 on the debit card on WM purchase.

  31. @Will The same issue happens here. I just realized that no more miles were posted after 4/30. Did they stop giving miles for WM purchases?

  32. Did anyone figure out if the miles (in general) are still going? It sounds like @Will and @Peng Yu were having some issues with WM purchase/points, but what about the points overall? I noticed the disclaimer on their website: “…UFB Direct has the right to change or cancel this rewards program any time and participating airlines may change at any time.”

  33. I loaded with BB in July and just now received miles for it the other day.

  34. Thanks for all the comments. Just opened one today.

  35. So there is no monthly fee for this checking account?

  36. Can I receive miles with my Alaska Airlines Debit card purchasing MO’s at WM or Post Office to pay for my rent?

  37. I’m forming a non-profit using several different sources for funding it and hope to suggest that the entities we serve use debit cards to help them save on the cost of air travel. Are you available to discuss this on the phone? Please email me directly at address I’ve listed.
    Thank you.

  38. could I pay my Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® with this account and not only get miles for using my credit card but get miles for making payments from this bank account? example: I have $3000 balance on my credit card (getting me 3000 points) then paying the balance off with my UFB direct checking account getting me another 1500 points? thus earning 4500 points?

  39. BofA is phasing out Alaska Visa Debit as of 5/31/14. SunTrust has a lot of rules. Will UFB be continuing the miles for dollars spent program of phasing it out like everyone else? Has anyone actually redeemed and traveled on the earned mileage. How complicated is the program? Is the cash back from BofA a reasonable alternative? Thanks, all.

  40. ufb closed my account after 18 month ago i opened it. this was done without explaining the reason. i suspect that because i was using my aa debit card extensively. on average it was about $6000 monthly with 100s transactions per month. also, ufb direct got very poor customer service, poor website, poor “usage alert” notification with 48 hours delay, etc…. i am not recommending this bank to anyone!!!

  41. Anyone have luck calling UFB to raise the 1500 limit? I called supervisor no luck

  42. I’ve been a happy camper with UFB since I first read about this and have been their customer for a couple of years. But today, I received an email that states some changes as of June 1:

    Earn 1 Mile/Point for every $ 3.00 Point-of-Sale (POS) debit transaction posted to your account. (change from 1 mile / $2.00) – BOO! HISS!
    Purchases made at Super Markets, Super Stores, Grocery Stores, Wholesale Stores, Discount Stores, USPS, and financial or money transfer institutions are not eligible. Purchases made using virtual wallets, funds transfer services, or other similar technology are not eligible. (change from “All POS debit transactions are eligible”) – BOO! HISS!
    Cash or Point-of-Sale transaction from ATM increased to $1,010. (change from $505) – Yay!
    Point-of-Sale transaction using your VISA Debit Card increased to $2,500 daily limit. (change from $1500) – Yay!
    Funds deposited using the Mobile Deposit services will be available the fifth (5th) business day after the day of your deposit. (change from “same day if deposited by 3pm, otherwise next day”) – BOO! HISS!

    They’ve pretty much removed or drastically reduced all of the things that differentiated the account and made me want to use them.

    Read the text of their email if you want it straight from the horse’s mouth. I think I’m going back to my old, local bank.

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