I just received a letter in the mail from Bank of America that the Alaska Airlines debit card will cease to exist on May 31, 2014. Many people have had trouble signing up for one lately, especially after the website took the Alaska Airlines option off. A few people have been able to go into a branch and request one in recent weeks. However, I think it might be close to impossible to get an Alaska Airlines debit card now, especially with the program slated to shut down.
This is a pretty big loss on two ends. One is the loss of yet another mileage-earning debit card. Ever since the Dodd-Frank Act limited the amount of fees banks could make off debit card swipes, we’ve seen many of them go by the wayside. Bank of America used to offer US Airways and Alaska Airlines debit cards before nixing both.
The second is that this is one of the easier ways to earn Alaska Airlines miles, which Scott recently described as the best type of miles to have due to their flexibility and breadth of partnerships.
While signups are likely no longer possible, those of you who have an Alaska Airlines debit card can still use it through May 31, 2014. Remember that no matter what date your checking account closes, the debit card account always goes on a monthly cycle from the 1st to the 31st. Therefore, a charge made on May 31st should still earn Alaska Airlines miles. I still have six months left to load my Bluebird for 3,000 more miles.
Even better for current cardholders are the refunds that Bank of America is generously giving out. I signed up for the card in September and paid the $30 fee (although it was covered with 3,000 bonus miles for my first purchase). Since I would only be able to use it for 9 months of the year, I figured a $7.50 refund would be fair. Below is the chart for refunds:
The fee shows up as “ALASKA AIR CKD ANNUAL FEE,” which you can search in your Bank of America online account. Since I got the card in September, my fee was charged on October 1st.
While I’d love for the card to not go away, a $27.50 refund ain’t bad. That means for $2.50, I got 3,000 Alaska miles plus the ability to use the debit card for 9 months.
What other mileage-earning debit cards still exist?
- Suntrust offers the Delta SkyMiles debit card, which earns 1 mile per dollar and includes tax payments (unlike this Alaska Airlines card). There’s a $75 annual fee but no limit on miles earned. Suntrust doesn’t operate branches on the west coast, and it’s in your best interest to open your account in a Suntrust state, mainly in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington DC).
- UFB Direct offers an American Airlines debit card that earns 0.5 miles per dollar and no annual fee, but there’s a $1,500 daily limit and $240,000 yearly limit.
- Bank of Hawaii has an Hawaiian Airlines debit card that earns 0.5 miles per dollar, but there’s a $3 monthly fee ($36/year) and a $5000 monthly cap (2,500 miles per month).
I wouldn’t be surprised if these debit cards aren’t offered after 2014.