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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.
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.
UFB DIRECT BANK AIRLINES REWARDS (AMERICAN AIRLINES) Debit Card
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.
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.