500 free Alaska Airlines miles per month with Bluebird

Bluebird now allows you to load money online using a debit card for free, up to $100 per day and $1,000 per calendar month.  These limits are separate from the $1,000 per day and $5,000 per calendar month limit for loading Vanilla Reloads or making in-person swipe reloads at a WalMart. I’ve already hit the $5,000 Vanilla Reload limit on my Bluebird this month and was still able to load another $1,000 online with my debit card.

I recently got the Bank of America Alaska Airlines debit card. I used to have the US Airways debit card (which came in handy back with US Airways ran the Grand Slam), but they stopped offering that version.  The Alaska Airlines debit card has a $30 fee per year, but I got 3,000 miles after my first purchase, easily worth more than $30.  The card earns 1 Alaska Airlines mile per $2 spent on any purchase, except tax payments. I have a MyAccess checking account that would normally have a $12 fee, but I waive that fee by sending a $250+ direct deposit there each month courtesy of Amazon Payments.  You can also maintain a daily $1500 balance.

Yes, the Suntrust Delta debit card earns 1 mile per $1 and includes tax payments, but I don’t care to earn any more Skypesos and don’t have large tax payments. Alaska miles are much more valuable, as I can put them toward one-way first class redemptions on Emirates, Cathay Pacific, or Qantas, amongst others.

It literally takes less than a minute for me to log in to my Bluebird account on my iPhone, tap “add funds,” and add $100 per day from my debit card to my Bluebird account. I’ll do this 10 times per calendar month and 120 times per calendar year.  Fewer than two hours of my time over the course of a year for 6,000 Alaska Airlines miles seems pretty good to me, especially since I can load funds while doing things I hate like waiting on hold for an airline rep or watching a television ad during a sporting event I can’t record or fast-forward through.

Once the money is in my Bluebird account, I can use it to pay off bills.

Avoiding Bluebird account freezes

After about 5 online debit card loads of $100 each, I got a message from Bluebird saying I needed to verify my debit card account.  I called the number (800-660-2454) and the rep asked for my Bluebird account number, name, last 4 of SSN, security question, and the name of the bank that issued my “BofA debit card,” as I had it nicknamed on my account.  Gee, I wonder who …

The rep made a quick phone call to Bank of America to verify that I owned that debit card and unfroze my account.  This showed me that it’s not a good idea to link a gift card that has a PIN to the account, since it won’t be under your name.  Also, if you manage Bluebird accounts for your spouse or other family members, you may run into trouble if you mix names of the Bluebird account and debit card.

Of course, this isn’t as fun as Scott’s new method from earlier this week.

Update from Scott: I just got an email this morning from Bluebird saying that they are enforcing a limit of linking only one debit card per Bluebird account, reduced from the original limit of four cards. It is a sign of how seriously they take the issue of debit card fraud. I would not tempt fate by using prepaid gift cards. Use a real debit card.

Bluebird Debit Limits

About 

Amol (@PointsToPointB) joined HMT in 2012 and posts his thoughts on mileage earning and burning. An ardent manufactured spender, he's an American Executive Platinum, Delta Platinum, and United Platinum.
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  • Ben

    You wouldn’t tempt fate using prepaid gift cards – as in having it be the 1 card you link to your account you mean? You can still go to Walmart with multiple Visa Gift cards (acting like debit cards) and load them that way right?

    • Scottrick

      I would not use prepaid gift cards for the online debit load. You should be fine using it for a traditional load at a physical Walmart.

    • Amol

      I still use Visa Gift Cards at WalMart and that’s fine. Keep in mind that falls under the $5K/month vanilla reload/swipe reload limit.

    • Jamie

      They won’t let you use a prepaid debit card online. I didn’t realize this was a restriction when they first lifted the debit load fees. I linked a few prepaid cards that I was wanting to drain and didn’t feel up to traveling to WalMart for. (it is pretty tedious loading $50 cards). I did one $100 card, then a day or two later did a $50 card, then tried a second one, but the second $50 wouldn’t work. Then they phoned the next day and verified that I owned the account and explained that I was not supposed to link a prepaid debit card and that they were going to remove it from the acct. Very polite and courteous and I was extremely relieved that they didn’t close my account.

  • http://saverocity.com/pfdigest/ Nick @ Personal Finance Digest

    I hadn’t realized the debit card funding was in addition to the normal $5K limit, thanks for pointing that out!

  • Tatyana

    How did you get 3,000 miles after my first purchase bonus for opening Alaska Airlines debit card? Was it from website?

    • Amol

      I can’t find the T&C but when I received the card, the welcome material stated I would get 3,000 miles. Sure enough, they posted at the end of last month.

  • E

    I’m at $4500 VR/GC loads for the month, but getting a maximum (180) error code when loading a $500 VR. I’ve also loaded $200 debit card online and was under the impression it did not count against the $5k limit. Have you done the $5000 + $1000 online debit yet?

    • Amol

      Yes. I did $5K + $1K

  • Eddy Klein

    Any concern about using the same debit card for more than on BB account?