Earning American miles with UFB Direct

The most frequent requests I get are for strategies to earn American miles.  There are the traditional ones that can be used for any airline (shopping sites, credit cards, etc.), and then there are those that are unique to American.  This one is in the latter category.  It involves UFB Direct, a subsidiary of BofI.  The website notes that the bank is FDIC insured.

For the most part, the opportunity to earn miles through debit cards is going away.  Under current banking regulations, banks simply aren’t making enough money on the transactions to earn miles.  Those who still do it are doing so as a way to attract deposits.

UFB Direct is one of the few left that does offer miles for using its debit card.  For every two dollars that you spend (ATM withdrawals do not earn you points, sadly.), you get one American Airlines mile.  You can only earn 120,000 miles per calendar year, although I have not tested it yet to see if you can have more than one mileage earning account.

Note: Most credit cards offer one mile per dollar spent, so the rate is better when using a credit card than the UFB card.  But there are certain occasions when you must use a debit card.  One such occasion is buying money orders.  Some supermarkets (including Stop & Shop but not Star Market or Shaw’s in the Boston area) and all Walmarts will allow you to buy money orders.  I have also heard of people receiving miles for buying a money order at the post office.

Here’s the plan: Next time you are in one of the above stores, go to the customer service desk and tell them you want to buy a money order.  S&S charges a dollar and Walmarts charge under a dollar (but the lines are longer).  You can buy a money order for any amount up to $1,000, although the fee is the same no matter how big a money order you buy (The post office has two prices, based on how much the money order is.).  So if you buy a $1,000 money order, you will earn 500 miles and get charged $1.  For a free trip costing you 25,000 miles, you’d spend just $50 in fees.  After receiving the money order, simply deposit it in your local bank.  You can make deposits to UFB either by check or electronically.  Congratulations, you’ve just manufactured spend!


  • You can only make $1,500 in purchases per day using this card.  My advice is not to go over $1,000.
  • If you make too many large purchases too quickly, you risk being shut down by the bank.  Spread it out and be logical.

With a little care and a bit of time, you should have no problem racking up some serious American miles.


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