Miles Instead of Cash Interest? That’s What Bask Bank’s Savings Account is Proposing
It seems that I often blog about how I have too many savings accounts these days. That’s thanks to my dedication as a reviewer that insists that I get first-hand experience with all of those apps and accounts that grab my attention. Therefore, when I read about how Texas Capital Bank was launching Bask Bank and introducing a savings product that earned airline miles instead of regular interest, I knew I would be adding yet another account to my name.
Here’s how Bask Bank works: for every dollar you hold in your account, you’ll earn one AAdvantage mile on an annual basis. If that sounds super confusing, it just means that, if you keep $5,000 in your account for a full year, you’ll have 5,000 miles afterward (although mile accrual will be based on your average monthly balance). As of January 2020, The Points Guy values AAdvantage miles at 1.4¢ each, so it’s not a bad return — especially if you can find off-season sales or other specials that can further increase this value.
Funny enough, when I was doing some more research, I learned that this actually isn’t a completely new concept. In fact, Texas Capital Bank themselves have attempted a similar scheme with their BankDirect offering, which boasts various AAdvantage mile-accruing accounts from money markets to CDs. Still, Bask Bank seems different enough that I give it credit for stepping outside of the mold.
So what do I think of Bask Bank’s mileage-earning account? Well, first of all, I wish it were Delta Skymiles instead of AAdvantage points being offered as I don’t typically fly American. However, AAdvantage miles don’t necessarily have to be used for American Airlines thanks to airline alliances. Of course the hard part would be to rack up enough points to actually fly somewhere before your miles expire (although, in theory, the 18-month expiry shouldn’t affect you if you’re continuing to earn miles and thus keeping your account active). Personally, since I don’t foresee socking away massive amounts of cash in a Bask account, I’d probably end up using the miles for short flights to cities like Chicago where I could then catch another airline to just about anywhere.
The other obstacle you may be up against is devaluation. While an AAdvantage mile may be worth 1.4¢ on average now, American can easily change that pretty much whenever they want just by increasing the number of miles you’ll need to redeem for flights. Given current trends, I’m not sure how wise it is to invest in such a currency.
Although I’m not 100% sold on whether Bask will ultimately benefit me in the long run, I did decide to give it a shot and open up an account — I’ve got to keep my review queue full after all. On top of that, the 5,000-mile bonus the bank is currently offering to customers who maintain a balance of $1,000 or more for at least 30 days as well as a 1,000-point “Feedback Bonus” for taking a survey made it even easier to opt-into.
With all things considered, you can at least color me intrigued by Bask Bank and their mileage-accruing savings accounts. In fact, part of me hopes they’re able to continue expanding and branching out into other banking services. Nevertheless, in the short term at least, I think I’d rather stick with cold hard cash for my interest payments — or, better yet, continue to invest instead. Will my month-long trial change my mind, though? You’ll have to wait and see.
Also published on Medium.