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I Found an Easy Way to Earn Miles Without a Credit Card

A high-yield savings account is cool, but this one may be better for the trip you want to book.

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Summer travel is around the corner. If you’re looking to book a domestic flight, you can expect to pay around $720, based on the latest data from the Bureau of Transportation Services. While credit card points can help you lower your travel costs, there’s another option I recommend, especially if you like American Airlines. 

Bask Bank offers a Mileage Savings Account that lets you earn miles by letting your money sit in its account. You’ll accrue miles for every $1 in your savings annually. 

As a credit card expert, I love putting points and miles toward travel. But if you don’t want to deal with annual fees or worry about debt, Bask’s savings account is a great way to put money toward the cost of your flights and hotels

Read more: The Chase Freedom Flex Just Became Spring’s Best Travel Card

How the Bask Bank Mileage Savings Account works

With Bask Bank, you could go the traditional route and earn interest on your savings with its Interest Savings Account. The APY is currently 5.10% APY, which is on par with CNET’s best high-yield savings accounts.

But if you travel often, Bask offers another savings account that lets you earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles instead. You’ll earn 2.5 AAdvantage miles for every dollar you save annually. You accrue miles daily and they’re posted to your account monthly based on your account balance. 

The more money you deposit, the more miles you earn. For example, if you deposit $5,000 in May and maintain that balance all month, you’ll earn approximately 12,500 in one year ($5,000 x 2.5 miles per dollar / 365 days in a year x 365 days in a year).

You’ll continue to earn miles as long as you maintain a balance, but if you need to withdraw that money, you’ll only earn miles for the days you had money in the account.


Bask is offering a limited-time bonus for first-time Bask Bank Mileage Savings Account customers. You can earn 10,000 AAdvantage miles if you maintain a minimum daily balance of $50,000 for 90 consecutive days out of the first 120 days following the initial account opening. The offer lasts until May 31.

Is earning miles better than earning interest?

Earning airline miles may sound great, but is it really that different from earning interest and using that money to book flights? The right savings method for you boils down to your personal preference, but opting for miles could add up to more in value. 

Bask’s mile-earning account offers 2.5 miles for every dollar in your account monthly and AAdvantage miles are worth 1.5 to 1.7 cents on average. If you keep $5,000 in this account for a year, you’ll accumulate roughly 12,606 miles, assuming a 1.7 cent redemption value per mile. In dollars, that’s about $214. 

But if you put that same $5,000 in Bask’s high-yield savings account, which currently offers 5.10% APY, you could earn $255 in one year. This assumes your APY will stay the same -- if it drops, you’ll earn less.

At first glance, it looks like earning interest is better, right? Not so fast. While miles are generally worth 1.5 to 1.7 cents per point, you can redeem them for even more if you know this one trick.

How to maximize your miles to make airfare even cheaper 

You can often find flights that offer you a bigger per-point redemption than the average 1.5 to 1.7 cent per point rate. You may just need to be diligent and flexible with your travel dates to find the best value.

For example, using the same example of $5,000 over a year of saving, I found a roundtrip flight from Charlotte, North Carolina to Sarasota, Florida from July 5 through 9. The trip, in total, costs 13,000 miles (plus taxes and fees that you’ll pay out of pocket). When converting from miles to dollars, the points would be worth $221 at a 1.7 cents-per-mile valuation. So even though the trip won’t be entirely free, you’ll only have to pay a few extra bucks out of pocket.

Screenshot-2024-04-22-at-2.26.17 PM
American Airlines

But paying for this same trip with cash would cost me $281 if I booked through American Airlines without points. If I earned $255 from my high-yield savings account, I’d still have to pay around $25 out of pocket -- not including the taxes and fees.

Screenshot 2024-04-22 at 2.39.00 PM
American Airlines

Tips for getting the most from Bask’s Miles Savings Account

Based on American Airline’s flight award chart, domestic flights start at 7,500 points for a one-way flight. So, if you have some money from your tax refund to add to your savings account or make regular contributions, those points can add up over a few months. And even though you may not earn enough to cover a round-trip flight if you start now, every point can help cut costs. 

Here’s what I recommend as you’re financially planning your trip. 

1. Pay yourself first 

This is a good personal finance habit to build -- whether you’re earning miles or not. Set up automatic transfers to your Bask Bank savings account each time you get paid to help you get in the habit of saving. Plus, you’re earning miles for your next vacation. You could also fast track your goal if you get a windfall of money, such as a tax refund or money gifted to you for birthdays or milestones.

2. Look for ways to earn more miles

Aside from the miles you earn with a Bask Mileage Savings Account, you can also earn AAdvantage miles in a few other ways.

  • Link your favorite restaurant credit card or debit card to the AA Dining Portal to earn AA miles each time you use the linked card at a partnered restaurant. You’ll earn five miles for every dollar spent on each qualifying meal at participating restaurants. 
  • Use the AA Shopping Portal when you’re shopping online. You may be able to take advantage of special promotions and earn miles at some of your most frequently visited stores by shopping through the portal. You won’t pay anything extra toward your purchase, but points will vary based on the store and deal. 
  • Link your American Airlines account to partner programs. For example, you can link your American Airlines account with your Hyatt account. And each time you stay at a Hyatt hotel, you’ll earn American Airlines miles for the hotel stay. Similarly, each time you fly with American Airlines, you can earn Hyatt hotel points for the flight.

3. Maximize how you redeem your miles 

Once you’ve earned American Airlines miles from your Bask Bank savings and other points-earning activities, you can pool your points together to save on your summer flights. One way I recommend maximizing your earnings is through the American Airlines Award Map. It’s a free tool that lets you easily find all the best American Airlines flight deals from your home airport to a region of the world -- while keeping your travel dates and points budget in mind. 

If you don’t plan on flying, the AAdvantage miles can still save you money on your trip. American Airlines lets you use your miles toward rental cars and hotel partners.

4. Find ways to get the most from your miles 

Many of the best ways to use American Airlines miles aren’t by booking American Airlines flights. Some American Airlines sweet spot redemptions include:

  • Flying on Japan Airlines business class to Japan for only 60,000 miles, or even flying first class for 80,000 miles. 
  • Flying to Europe using FinnAir or British Airways starting at 57,500 points in business class.
  • Flying on QSuites via Qatar Airways for only 70,000 points.

American Airlines also often includes positioning flights at no extra points cost. If you find an affordable flight from a different city, you might be able to travel there via positioning flights, or layovers, without paying more. For example, I once flew from Las Vegas to Egypt with two layover flights for only 70k points total per person one way in business class. 

Should I open the Bask Bank Mileage Savings Account?

Whether it make sense to earn miles over interest depends on how much you travel in a year. You might get more value from this account if you’re one of the below types of travelers:

Business owner: If you need to keep a large amount of cash liquid for business operations, parking the money in this account can help you earn many American Airlines miles passively. For example, if your business keeps an average of $100,000 in the account over the course of the year, you’ll earn about 250,000 American Airlines miles. But remember that this could change depending on the number of days in each month and if you don’t make any withdrawals. 

American Airlines frequent fliers: If you travel often (especially with American Airlines or its travel partners), accumulating miles through everyday banking activities is a no-brainer way to subsidize future trips. 

Budget-conscious travelers: By earning miles instead of interest and learning how to maximize those miles, you can often stretch your travel budget and get more value from points than you can from savings account interest.

Avid savers looking for more: If you’re already in the habit of saving regularly, you may appreciate having another way to get more value from your savings.

If you’re not interested in American Airlines or its partners or don’t travel often, I recommend opting for a high-yield savings account instead.

Julia Menez is a points strategy coach, speaker, and host of the Geobreeze Travel Podcast. Through her podcast and social media channels, she distills the strategies from top award travelers around the world and creates step-by-step tutorials for how you can make the most out of your points and miles.
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