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Finance

Cautions:

  • Before you accept any offer, be sure to make a copy of the offer and all of its terms and conditions. Mail a copy with the application, along with a note saying that you are accepting that offer. And keep a copy in case anything goes wrong.
  • I have made no investigation of the financial stability or performance history of any of the investment companies I list on this page. You are on your own to do appropriate due diligence before giving these companies any of your assets. (Occasionally I will give you some help on how to do that due diligence.)

 

 

Banks

Before accepting any of these offers, you may want to see if anyone has written about their experiences with the bank you are considering on the Epinions pages on banks and on internet banks.

Click here to see if a U.S. Bank is indeed F.D.I.C. insured. If you are thinking of depositing more than the $100,000 limit of insurance in a F.D.I.C. insured account, Bankrate has a useful service that rates the financial stability of banks.

I do list offers from some banks outside of the U.S. I do not know if these banks are in any way insured by their governments, and have no knowledge of their financial stability, and I don't intend to research this. You are on your own to do due diligence with any investment you make in any bank or financial institution, but especially with foreign banks.

Doctor of Credit has a nifty listing of a large number of bank account bonuses - he says all of them are listed. Miles, points, and cash. Nice.

 

BankDirect and American Airlines     You can earn thousands of American Airlines miles by opening accounts at BankDirect, a well established online bank.

Caution: Effective with the January 2012 monthly statement cycle, all Mileage Checking with Interest Accounts will be charged a monthly service fee of $12.00, regardless of the balance maintained in your account. This means that this account becomes a good deal only with large balances. Do the math.

Caution: The miles offers for these accounts change for the worse on June 1, 2013. I mention the changes in each category below. Just do a word search on "June" in this BankDirect section.

Caution: There has been a lot of publicity about Citibank sending out a 1099 for their value of AA miles given for opening an account (2.5 cents/mile!) The IRS has made at least one statement that this is correct for bank account bonuses (but not credit card bonuses). BankDirect has not send out 1099's for miles in the past, but I fear they may not be able to continue to avoid doing so. I closed my account with them and explained why. They responded that the understood my concern, with no further comment.

How to earn the miles:

  • 100 miles per month for every $1,000.00 maintained in an interest bearing Mileage Checking Account, up to the first $200,000 on deposit. Earn an additional 25 miles per $1,000 for collected balances over $200,000. That $200,000 limit will be reduced to $50,000 on June 1, 2013.
    • Yes, the interest rate on this account is quite low (currently 0.05%). But the highest rate I can find for liquid money (May 2, 2015) is Ally Bank's .99%. The 1% is taxable. But BankDirect has not sent out 1099's for the miles. Let's take a round number example. I will use 1%. Be sure to adjust this math for the new numbers.
      • A $10,000 deposit in a BankDirect checking account earns 12,000 American Airlines miles per year and $5 taxable interest per year. That same $10,000 in an Ally Bank account earns $100 per year. But remember that the extra $95 is taxable. You would have to do your own math, but at my combined federal and state tax rates I get to keep only $61.90 of that $95. That's an opportunity cost of 61.90/12,000 = a bit over half a cent/mile. A mile is worth way more than that by anyone's calculation.

        Now I would never consider investing a lot of money in a higher but still very low C.D., because that money is not liquid. But when I am between investments, depositing my cash in this BankDirect account seems like a very good deal, so long as interest rates remain very low.

        Of course, for the first year, the other bonuses make this account very worthwhile for a minimum balance of $2,500.

  • 50 miles per month for every $1,000.00 maintained in a Mileage Money Market Account, up to the first $200,000 on deposit. Earn an additional 25 miles per $1,000 for collected balances over $200,000. That $200,000 limit will be reduced to $50,000 on June 1, 2013.
  • Earn 1,000 miles for every $1,000 invested in a two-year Mileage CD purchase up to $200,000. Additionally, earn 25 miles per $1,000 invested over $200,000. That $200,000 limit will be reduced to $50,000 on June 1, 2013.
  • Earn 500 miles for every $1,000 invested in a one-year Mileage CD purchase up to $200,000. Additionally, earn 25 miles per $1,000 invested over $200,000. That $200,000 limit will be reduced to $50,000 on June 1, 2013.
  • Earn 250 miles for every $1,000 invested in a six month Mileage CD purchase up to $200,000. Additionally, earn 25 miles per $1,000 invested over $200,000. That $200,000 limit will be reduced to $50,000 on June 1, 2013.
  • Earn 1,000 miles for each new Mileage Checking Account or Mileage Money Market Account opened. Additionally, earn 1,000 miles for every $100,000 in initial deposit, up to $500,000, per household. This bonus will disappear June 1, 2013.
  • An additional 1,000 miles if you are referred by someone before you open an account. Try asking for a referral on Flyertalk or Milepoint.
  • 1,000 miles for each successful referral you make to the bank. Consider family members, for example.
  • Earn 10,000 miles for establishing full payroll direct deposit from your employer into a Mileage Checking Account. You must deposit your payroll directly in to a BankDirect Mileage Checking Account. If you have more than one employer, you must deposit the entire payroll direct deposit from each income source in order to receive the one-time 10,000 mileage credit. Your direct deposit must be deposited for 3 consecutive months in order to earn the one-time 10,000 mileage credit. (On June 1, 2013, this changes to six consecutive statement cycles, totaling a minimum of $2,000.00 per month.) The one-time 10,000 mileage credit is awarded after you have reached the minimum 3 month consecutive deposit requirement. To receive mileage credit, contact BankDirect Client Support to notify us that you have met the minimum qualifications. qualifications. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for the miles to post to your AAdvantage account.
  • Earn 5,000 miles for using BankDirect's bill pay service for 12 consecutive months from a Mileage Checking Account. In order to receive these miles, you have to pay at least 3 different merchants per month from a BankDirect Mileage Checking Account through its online bill payment system for 12 consecutive months. (On June 1, 2013, this changes to 6 consucutive months.) The 5,000 miles are paid out at the end of the 12-month period. To receive mileage credit, contact BankDirect Client Support to notify them that you have met the minimum qualifications. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for the miles to post to your AAdvantage account.
  • Earn 5,000 miles for Visa┬« CheckCard usage. Use the Visa┬« CheckCard on 12 transactions per statement cycle for 3 consecutive months. (After June 1, 2013, the transactions must total at least $500/month.) To receive mileage credit, contact BankDirect Client Support to notify them that you have met the minimum qualifications. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for the miles to post to your AAdvantage account.
  • Limit 2 Mileage transaction accounts per household; one Mileage Checking Account and one Money Market Account.
You can read about or find links to all of the details of these accounts here, and more details here. And here is the the bank's schedule of fees and other disclosures. Note no fee listed for ATM use anywhere in the world. Also note the following:
  • You get a free ATM debit card with your checking account. BankDirect charges no fees for using that card at any ATM anywhere in the world (thought the owner of the ATM might charge a fee). Very nice for foreign travel.
  • They say to wait 6 - 8 weeks for miles to post after you earn them. But it took only 2 days for my initial opening miles to post.
  • There are fees for not maintaining minimum balances on these accounts. For example, the minimum balance to avoid a monthly fee on the mileage checking account is $2,500, and $10,000 for a mileage money market account.

The interest rates and on Mileage CD's are substantially lower that those you can get from regular CD's from BankDirect, and lower still that CD's you can find elsewhere. And the miles received from mileage CD's are lower than those from the checking account. So investing in Mileage C.D's for the purpose of acquiring miles is not particularly attractive.

 

UFB Direct and American Airlines debit card     Caution: There has been a lot of publicity about Citibank sending out a 1099 for their value of AA miles given for opening an account (2.5 cents/mile!) The IRS has made at least one statement that this is correct for bank account bonuses (but not credit card bonuses). I don't know if UFB Direct will send out a 1099, and if they do, how they will value the miles.

UFB Direct offers

  • An Airline Rewards Checking Account with
    • A debit card that earns 1 airline mile/$3 spent on the card. Currently American Airlines is the only airline offered, but that could change.

     

SunTrust

 

    SunTrust offers both personal and business debit cards that earn Delta Airlines miles. You may read about them here.

 

Bank of Hawaii and Hawaiian Airlines

 

    Bank of Hawaii offers a personal check (debit) card for $3/month each. The Bank of Hawaii website says that HawaiianMiles can be earned on qualified purchases using the "Debit" or "Credit" function, but does not say how many miles. The Hawaiian Airlines website says 1 mile for every 2 qualifying dollars you spend on net purchases. Ask. Bank of Hawaii serves Hawaii and Guam. I don't know if you must be a resident of same to open an account.
  • Effective from and after, April 1, 2015 each HawaiianMiles Account may earn a maximum of 1,000 HawaiianMiles per month.

 

HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union and Hawaiian Airlines

 

    HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union offers various unspecified miles for opening accounts, loans, mortgages and more. Call HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union for more information. 534-4300 (Oahu); (800) 379-1300 (Neighbor Islands).

 

Taca Banking Offers

 

    Taca/Avianca LifeMiles can be earned from banking.

 

Qantas Credit Union (Australia) and Qantas Airlines

 

    Qantas Credit Union (Australia) offers Australians 400 Qantas Points for every $1,000 on your average monthly balance per annum.

 

 

Home Buying

 

Home Buying, Home Equity Loans, and Home Mortgages     Many airlines offer miles for using their affiliated realtor to buy or sell a home, and for using their lender to acquire a mortgage, refinance, or acquire a home loan. I have not done a lot of research on this, but I know that mega miles are available.

These miles do cost the lender or broker money. So be sure to compare their rates to those who don't offer miles - the latter may offer better deals. Note also that you may be able to negotiate a lower commission or a lower loan rate by offering to give up the miles.

View from the Wing has a good article on these offers.

Please tell me about any programs you come across. I will add them here after I check them out. You can often find them through the web site of your favorite airline. Look for the partners of its frequent flyer program. Here are the ones I know about:

  • United Airlines

  • Hawaiian Airlines
    • Quicken Loans offers 25,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles when you close a new purchase or refinance loan.

  • Alaska Airlines
    • FlyHomes is a real estate broker specializing in homes in the Seattle and Bellview, Washington areas, and in Boston. It offers 1 mile/$1 spent on your purchase. It has a nice online search feature for property that might interest you.

  • American Airlines.

  • Qantas

     

 

Other Loans

It appears that banks are just beginning to experiment with the idea of awarding miles for loans other than those for the home. Please tell me about any other of these types of offers you find. Thanks.

 

Loans for Car Buying     Qantas Credit Union offers 1,000 Qantas Points for every $1000 on your loan balance per annum.

 

Personal Loans     Up to 50,000 JetBlue points or 50,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles for getting a personal loan from Best Egg. You may have to open this in a private window to see these offers.

Lending Club offers 1 American Airlines mile per $1 borrowed, up to 20,000 miles. They say "Rates from 5.99% to 35.89%* APR. Best APR is available to borrowers with excellent credit." Not sure if you can borrow for a very short period of time to get the miles. This thread in flyertalk discusses the offer. Note that there may be an up front fee for taking out the loan, making the miles expensive. But if you need the loan and they give you a good rate...

 

Commercial Loans and Real Estate Purchases.     iBank offers 2,500 Hilton HHonors points per $10,000 borrowed on a commercial loan.

 

Personal and Margin Loans

 

    Qantas has arranged for points to be earned from banks for personal and margin loans. Details here.

If you are looking for a smaller short term loan (less than a year), I may have 0% balance transfer offers listed for certain credit cards. For some, you can get a check for your full credit limit, and then make minimum payments until the 0% offer ends. You can often get another check for that minimum amount you pay once the payment posts. The best way to find these offers is to look on my Free Money page.

 

 

Student Finance

Here I list miles producing and cash back offers for savings plans and loans for tuition and other student expenses.

 

Upromise     Everyone saving for college should thoroughly investigate the Upromise program. It provides cash rebates for use of its Mastercard and for purchases through its online shopping portal. This is an easy way for you, parents, grand parents, and anyone else to contribute to your college education. So spread word, or perhaps get your parents to do so. Most of your questions are found on the Frequently Asked Questions page. However, there are still two questions the answer to which I was unable to find:
  • Minimums for transfer to a 529 are alluded to, but never stated. What are they?
  • Which 529 plans are on your list for eligibility? (And specifically is yours on it?)
Ask.

The reader who told me about this program says

"...most 529 plans have annual fees exceeding average consumer's Upromise earnings, so people should decide if it's worth it for them to participate, based on their shopping habits. It doesn't mean they shouldn't join Upromise, of course. There is a way to request a check from Upromise, not subject to any 529 penalties, and something they obviously do not advertise."

 

Fidelity Visa     The 2% cash back on all purchases on your Fidelity Visa credit card can be deposited into your Fidelity-managed 529 College Savings plan. Nice, easy way to fund your college education with your purchases or those of your parents or grandparents. And Fidelity offers mega miles bonuses for funding an account.

 

Upromise Mastercard - cash back   Upromise Mastercard. The cash back for purchases on this card can be deposited into a 529 College Savings plan. But it seems to me that the Fidelity offer above is better. Fidelity does offer a 529 plan and offers mega miles bonuses for funding an account.

 

   
Credible     Earn up to 20,000 United MileagePlus« award miles* when borrowing or refinancing your student loans through Credible. Be sure to compare rates to other offers. You may find that you would be paying to much for the miles.

 

 

Insurance

The A.M. Best Company rates the financial stability of many insurance companies. Before buying insurance it would be very nice to have some idea of the ability of the insurance company to actually pay a claim.

Most insurance companies accept credit cards (mileage producing, of course) for payment of premiums. Ask.

 

MetLife and Amtrak     Earn up to 500 Amtrak Guest Rewards┬« points by calling MetLife Auto & Home┬« for a free insurance quote. Call (866) 203-9527, provide your Amtrak Guest Rewards member number,and mention offer code BXW. Points may be available in: : AL, AK, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, HI, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, OR, PA, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WY. Details.

 

QANTAS and Insurance     QANTAS offers points for purchase of various types of insurance.

 

 

Investment Advice

 

KLM and Investment Advisors     KLM apparently has miles producing arrangement with an investment advisor/manager, depending on in which European country you live. For info, go to KLM's home page, choose your country and language, click on Flying Dutchman in the left menu, then on the read more link in the Partners paragraph on the main page, same again in the Finance and Telecom paragraph, then do the obvious.

 

The Wall Street Journal and Other Financial Publications.

 

    There are a number of ways to earn miles subscribing to the The Wall Street Journal and other financial publications. There are also ways to spend miles to subscribe to these publications. I list the ones I know about on my Shopping page of this web site in the Newspapers and Magazines section.

 

 

Taxes

This Flyertalk thread discusses miles for and discounts on tax software.

 

Tax Preparation   ; TurboTax, and possibly other tax preparation software, can be purchased via many miles and cash back shopping portals.

1,000 Southwest Airlines points for filing your federal return online with TurboTax. Filing must be made between Tuesday, January 3, 2017 and Tuesday, April 18, 2017 after clicking through this offer on Rapid Rewards Shopping« and logging in to be eligible. Read the terms and conditions to understand which TurboTax programs are eligible.

250 United Airlines miles for filing your taxes, possibly for free, via TurboTax, between Tuesday, January 3, 2017 and Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

MyPoints offers points for using TaxACT to do your taxes. Enter TaxAct in the search box.

Doctor of Credit has complied a list of deals for doing taxes for tax year 2015.

 

Paying your taxes     The IRS lists payment processors through with you may make payments to it via credit or debit card, including 1040, 1040ES and many other types. The credit card fee ranges between 1.88% and 2.35% (expensive miles, but useful for meeting a minimum spend requriement for a credit card bonus). But the debit card fee is a flat fee ranging between $2.99 and $3.95, making this a very good deal for some payments via a debit card that earns miles. You may also make some state and local tax payments at Official Payments Corporation.

FrequentMiler has an excellent article on how to profitably earn miles or cash for paying your taxes. I would add the Fidelity 2% cash back card and the Citi« Double Cash Card card for cards that give you a profit when you pay your taxes with them.

A Complete Guide To Paying Your Federal Taxes With A Credit Card, Updated For 2017.

Below are some of the offers I know about. Please tell me about others you find. Thanks.

  • The IRS has a nifty page showing numerous methods for obtaining e-filing for free. Most require that your Adjusted Gross Income be $50,000 or less.
  • Often the payment agencies arrange special offers for payment of taxes:
  • Mastercard has a nifty list of which states accept its card, and via which agents. Presumably those states also accept other cards.
  • Redeem American Express Membership Rewards points to credit your Card account for the cost of the convenience fee (200 Membership Rewards points = $1).

 

Thanks to BoardingArea for donating the web space for this web site.