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Credit cards aren’t the only way to score big mileage paydays. Online brokerages often offer sweet deals to bring your assets to them by offering airline miles. Last year I was able to take advantage of two bonuses of 50,000 miles each that Fidelity Investments was offering for new brokerage accounts, boosting both my Delta and United mileage balances, and there was also a third American bonus at the same time.
With those promotions, the thing to keep in mind was, the Delta bonus didn’t exclude existing accounts while the United one did, so you had to open and fund your United account first, wait for the bonus to post, and then fund your Delta account after in order to score both bonuses.
However, Fidelity is now offering up to 50,000 miles when you open and fund a non-retirement brokerage account or add money to an existing one by March 31, 2013 with American, Delta (expires February 14, 2014) and United (United expires October 1, 2014). (Thanks to Frugal Travel Guy/ VFTW for the reminder!)
Here’s how it works.
Deposit Amount: $25,000+
Mileage Earned: 15,000
Deposit Amount: $50,000+
Mileage Earned: 25,000
Deposit Amount: $100,000+
Mileage Earned: 50,000
Now, not everyone just has $100,000 sitting around, and last time these offers were available, you just had to hit the cumulative deposit number rather than having $100k sitting around in your account, and you could do so by depositing and withdrawing until you hit the $100,000 mark. This time around, it looks like Fidelity has tightened up the terms to say: “Net new assets are defined as an individual’s external new money in minus money out, including distributions and transfers,” so it looks like you might have to have all that cash and leave it in the account until your miles post.
As with any promotion of this nature, I recommend reading through the complete rules before you do this. To me, 50,000 miles is worth about $1,000 so I am going to get go for the American Airlines offer since it’s been a year since I last participated in one (so I meet the rolling 12-month condition in case they are sticklers about that) and it does not count as a hard inquiry on your credit - only a soft inquiry so they can verify your identity – and won’t interfere with my recent round of credit card applications.
I understand not everyone has this type of cash accessible, but if you do it can be extremely profitable to take advantage of these deals since the miles post quickly. If you want to hear examples of other peoples’ experiences with these accounts, there is a several hundred page long Flyertalk thread that can be found here. To be safe you should keep the funds in the account for at least 6 months, though I always withdrew after a month or two once the miles posted and never had an issue.
I value United miles the most, then American then Delta, but it all depends on what mileage you need the most. The Delta offer has historically been open to new and existing customers so the thought was to get American/United and then Delta in the future. Who knows if these offers will be extended past March 31, 2013, so I would just go for the one that makes the most sense for you right now.
Here are the rest of the Promotional Offer Rules:
This promotional offer is only available to new or existing Fidelity brokerage account customers opening or depositing net new assets into a joint or individual nonretirement Fidelity Account®. Net new assets are defined as an individual’s external new money in minus money out, including distributions and transfers.
This offer expires March 31, 2013, and is not transferable or valid in conjunction with any other Fidelity promotional offer. Fidelity Investments reserves the right to modify, change, or alter the terms and conditions of the promotional offer in its sole discretion at any time. Fidelity Investments may terminate this promotional offer at any time. Other terms and conditions may apply.
Promotional offers are limited to one per individual per rolling 12 months.
The promotion is not available for business accounts; trust accounts; retirement accounts, including, among others, Fidelity IRA, Roth IRA, SEP, and SIMPLE accounts; 401(k) and 403(b) workplace retirement plans; fiduciary accounts (including custodial accounts, estate accounts); college investment trust accounts; 529 college savings plan accounts; annuities; Fidelity accounts managed by Strategic Advisers, Inc. (for example, Portfolio Advisory Services); Institutional Wealth Services (IWS) clients; clients of registered investment advisors working with Fidelity Investments, annuities, and Stock Plan Services accounts. Offer is not valid for non-U.S. residents; persons affiliated with FINRA, a securities exchange or its members; employees of Fidelity, its affiliates, and members of their immediate families and households, or the media.
Certain states and local jurisdictions have laws that limit or restrict public employees from accepting items of value from vendors such as Fidelity that provide services to public institutions. Some public entities such as governments, state universities, health care organizations, etc., also have internal policies that may contain similar restrictions. If you are a public official or employee, you should determine if one of these laws or internal policies applies to you. By accepting this incentive, we assume that you are in compliance with your jurisdiction’s laws and institution’s internal policies.
Transferred assets will be valued, for the purposes of determining eligibility for this promotional offer, at the close of business Eastern time on the business day or next business day, if on a weekend day or holiday, following receipt by Fidelity Investments of the assets into the account that is eligible for the promotional offer. Funding must come from an external, non-Fidelity source via any standard monetary transfer method (a standard Transfer of Assets form, check, electronic funds transfer, ADM deposit, etc.). Please allow eight weeks from the funding of the eligible account, with the qualifying dollar amount of assets, for American Airlines AAdvantage® miles to be posted to your AAdvantage® account. Your Fidelity Account® must remain open with the qualifying funding for six months from the date that the qualifying assets are first received in the eligible account.
New accounts must be opened within 30 days of registering for the offer. Additional deposits to the eligible Fidelity account may earn you a higher mileage award provided the result is that the cumulative assets meet or exceed the next eligibility tier (up to a maximum of 50,000 AAdvantage® miles). For new accounts, initial and subsequent deposits must be made within 60 days of Fidelity account opening. For new money deposited into existing accounts, all deposits must be made within 60 days of registering for the offer.