I love building my frequent flyer balance, but I hate using credit cards. As a big debit card user, I’ve found several banks and airlines that offer the ability to earn frequent flyer miles by using your debit card. Things are changing as Chase has eliminated its program with Continental and Citibank has just announced the end of their program with American Airlines.
Smart travelers who want to benefit from airline mileage programs know the key to building miles is combining a range of activities, all earning miles to the same airline. I like using my debit card for most general purchases, from small items at a convenience store to big ticket electronics and for several years I’ve been earning miles for each transaction. I have an account at Citibank and now that they’ve eliminated the Aadvantage Rewards card program, I’ve had to find alternatives. Here are the remaining debit card programs that earn airline frequent flyer miles:
Bank of America – Alaska Airlines
With this Visa-branded card from Bank of America and Alaska Airlines, you earn one mile for every $2 in general purchases, and one mile for every $1 in airfare purchases on Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air flights or even vacation packages. Bank of America even gives you 3,000 bonus miles with your first purchase. The debit card comes with a $30 per year fee. The card can be ordered for existing checking accounts or requested with the opening of a new account. Miles are accrued on Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program but the great thing is they are redeemable through any of Alaska’s partners, including American Airlines, Delta and other major international carriers.
Bank of America – US Airways
With this Visa-branded card from Bank of America and US Airways, you earn one mile for every $2 in general purchases, and one mile for every $1 in airfare purchases on US Airways flights or even vacation packages. Bank of America even gives you 3,000 bonus miles with your first purchase. The debit card comes with a $30 per year fee. The card can be ordered for existing checking accounts or requested with the opening of a new account.
SunTrust – Delta
SunTrust Bank offers a MasterCard-branded debit card that earns SkyMiles on Delta. They offer two cards, the “Classic” check card which has an annual fee of $20, a 2,500 first-purchase bonus and a 1 mile per $2 in purchases earning rate. Their “World” check card has a $55 annual fee, but comes with a 5,000 mile initial use bonus and 1 mile per $1 earning rate. Both cards have no mileage earning cap, so big spenders can rack up some big miles. There are some restrictions as the cards are only available in AL, AR, FL, GA, MD, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV and D.C.
Citibank did offer the Aadvantage Rewards debit card program, charging a $55 annual fee, and offering one mile for each $1 spent. Sadly, they stopped offering the card to new accounts in July 2011 and have decided to end the program in December. This was my program of choice and I had been using it for several years.
Follow travel writer Ted Sherman on twitter, @travel4seniors and check out his blog,travel4seniors.com
More from this contributor:
Four Incredible Dream Hotel Suites Around the World
Macau Travel Guide
Antwerp, a great day trip from Amsterdam