Why I, the Credit Card Proponent, Applied for a Mileage Debit Card

Usually I talk about credit cards on this website.  I think credit card sign up bonuses are the best way to earn miles and points for free travel.  Using credit card sign up bonuses, my wife and I have earned about two million miles and points in the last couple of years.

However, as much as I love travel credit cards, there are definitely benefits to having a travel debit card.

The Reasons to Add a Mileage Debit Card to Your Travel Toolbox

1.  No fee Bluebird funding option with debit cards at Walmart

Like many of you, I signed up for an American Express Bluebird account because I was excited about buying Vanilla Reload cards (using the Ink Bold or Ink Plus) and then adding those funds to my Bluebird account.  That opportunity has died since Office Depot no longer carries Vanilla Reload cards.  I can still buy the reload cards at a local Walgreens, but I don’t get the 5x bonus like I would at an office supply store.  I’m thankful for the Walgreens option as it does give me an easy way to reach my minimum spend requirements.

At Walmart you can use a debit card to add funds to your Bluebird account.  There are no fees to add funds in this way.  There is, however, a $500 daily limit that you can add to Bluebird using a debit card.  There is a $5,000 monthly limit for all funding sources.

If I can add funds to my Bluebird account and then use that money to pay rent, pay credit card bills, pay utilities, and send other checks, then why not?

2.  Cheap quarterly tax payment option

Since I’m self-employed, I pay quarterly taxes.  You can pay your taxes using a credit card, but the best rate is 1.89%.  In the past, I have paid the fee to help reach a minimum spend.  However, the best rate for a debit card payment is a flat $3.49.  Since I’ll be paying quarterly taxes, I figured I should go ahead and get some miles in the process.  The miles are definitely worth the $3.49 fee.  Daraius at Million Mile Secrets points out that Bank of America (Alaska Airlines debit) terms and conditions specifically exclude the ability to earn miles when the debit card is used to pay taxes.

Debit Cards With Mileage Earning Potential

1.  Delta SkyMiles World Check Card – This debit card offers you 5,000 Delta SkyMiles after your first purchase with the debit card.  You can also earn 1 mile per dollar spent with this card.  The fees are expensive with this account – $75 per year for the debit card.  There could be monthly account fees depending on your account type and depending on the account balance.  Suntrust banks are not in every state, and you might run into issues if you don’t live in a state where Suntrust operates.

2.  Bank of America Alaska Airlines Debit card – This card could net you 3,000 bonus miles when you first use the card.  They give 1 Alaska Airlines mile per two dollars spent.  This card has a $30 annual fee as well as possible account fees.  You’ll need to visit the Bank of America banking website to get state specific information on your account options if you wish to get this card.

3.  UFB Airline Rewards Debit Card – This card earns American Airlines at a 1:2 ration (1 AAdvantage mile per two dollars spent).  This is the only card that does not have an annual fee.  The UFB Airline Rewards Checking account has no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fees.

My Rationale For Getting the UFB Airline Rewards Debit Card (earning American Airlines AAdvantage miles)

1.  Of the three currencies, I value AAdvantage Airline miles the most.  Getting 2x the miles with Delta could be appealing, but my family finds a lot of value from the American off-peak rewards.  While I think Alaska miles are valuable, I’m concerned that they’d be stray orphan miles since I don’t have many other Alaska miles.  We’re actually trying to get a few more miles so we’ve got enough to take the family to Europe next winter.  A few decent size charges on this card should give us the miles we need.  This should nicely compliment my Bank Direct account where I earn 100 AAdvantage miles per $1,000 per month.

2.  No annual fee.  It would take quite a bit of spending for me to offset the Suntrust $75 annual fee.  At any point, changes in programs could offset my reasons (listed above) for wanting a debit card.  At least I’m not out anything if I have a no annual fee credit card.

3.  Geographic restrictions.  I don’t want to deal with the possible Suntrust issues because I don’t live in an eligible state.  In the same manner, there doesn’t appear to be any Bank of America locations in Wyoming.


  1. Jose Augustin says

    Hi Craig,

    Once you have the UFB debit card, can’t you directly link it to your BlueBird account and transfer money using that? Wont that be considered as debit card purchase?


  2. John says

    What did you mean by this Bank Direct … ??? This should nicely compliment my Bank Direct account where I earn 100 AAdvantage miles per $1,000 per month.

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