Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Act that went into effect in late 2011, debit cards with airline miles have been going the way of the wooly mammoth. So who’s left and who’s been axed? Here’s a rundown for your reference, which I’ve updated for 2013…
AAdvantage Debit Card – Issued by Citibank, the $25 version = 1 AAdvantage mile per 2 dollars spent. The “premium” $65 version = 1 AAdvantage mile per 1 dollar spent.
Dead or Alive? Unfortunately both of the American Airline debit cards have been axed and they’re not coming back. Not even the existing cardholders got to keep ‘em – they’ve been issued regular ol’ debit cards as replacements.
Alaska Airlines Debit Card – A Bank of America product, for $30 the account earns 1 mile per $2 in purchase and for spending on flights and vacation packages from Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air, it’s 1 mile per $1.
Dead or Alive? This one is still around. To get it you will need to have a Bank of America checking account. You have to press “credit” when you swipe it in order to earn rewards. If you enter your pin, there won’t be any miles given.
Continental Airlines Debit Card – Run by the folks at Chase, for a $25 annual fee = 1 OnePass mile per 2 dollars spent.
Dead or Alive? This was actually one of the first airline debit cards to be cut. Chase terminated the program a few months before the new legislation went into effect. Regardless, something had to change with this card anyway, due to the United-Continental merger.
Delta Skymiles Debit Card – Offered through SunTrust Bank, the consumer version is $75/year and gives 1 SkyMile per dollar. There are double miles earned on spending with Delta.
Dead or Alive? This is one the best airline debit cards because it gives 1 mile per dollar and fortunately, it’s still alive. To get it though you will need to have a checking account with SunTrust. The bad news is that they jacked the annual fee up from $25 in 2012 to $75 in 2013.
United Airlines Debit Card – Like the Continental card, this gave 1 mile per $2 for a $25 annual fee.
Dead or Alive? Chase nixed this one at the same time they killed the one for Continental.
US Airways Debit Card – Bank of America checking accountholders could request this optional card which offers 1 Dividend mile for each $2 in purchases, except for spending with US Airways which was $1 mile per dollar. The fee was $30 per year.
Dead or Alive? Sadly this one died in Sept 2012.
2013’s best alternatives?
Being that most air mileage debit card reward programs are no longer in existence, if you still want to earn miles on purchases, you might have to switch to using the carrier’s credit card instead. You can see a list of them here. My favorite is the one from Delta…Remember if you pay your balance in full, there won’t be any interest to pay. But if you’re a compulsive spender who will rake up debt, admittedly it is best to avoid credit cards altogether despite.
If you’re opposed to credit because it interferes with your budgeting, then going with a debit card will probably be the best alternative. However in 2013 unfortunately it won’t be possible to earn cash back through a debit card.