Are You Part of the 1%? Then You Can Have Big Miles!

Back in December 2011 I wrote about earning big miles for funding brokerage accounts.

At the time you could earn up to 50,000 miles from your choice of either American, United, or Delta with a deposit of $100,000. But the trick was that you could cycle the same money in and out of the account and all that mattered was that the sum of the deposits needed to total $100,000.

I did just that. I put money in, took it out, put it back, took it out, and so on in order to earn 50,000 American miles.

Unfortunately ‘cycling’ no longer seems to be possible to earn signup bonuses from Fidelity brokerage accounts. If you want the full 50,000 mile bonus, you actually have to deposit $100,000 into the account (cash and/or securities).

On the other hand, for both of my readers that have that sort of cash or investment assets that can be moved into a Fidelity brokerage account, not only are these big mileage offers but you can earn more than one offer.

The current rule seems to be that you can earn one bonus per rolling 12 month period. So earn United or American miles, wait 12 months, then earn 50,000 Delta miles.

And that’s actually the order you want to do it in, because the United offer and the American offer are specifically for new customers only.

But the Delta offer specifically says “available to new or existing Fidelity brokerage account customers” (emphasis mine).

With each of these offers, Fidelity will give you up to 50,000 miles based on the amount you deposit into your account within 90 days of opening.

  • 15,000 miles for a $25,000 deposit
  • 25,000 miles for a $50,000 deposit
  • 50,000 miles for a $100,000 deposit

If it’s your first go with Fidelity, then pick one of the offers that are for new customers only — either the United offer or the American offer.

Then come back a year later and try again with Delta.

Occasionally there are other offers from Fidelity as well, sometimes there are offers of up to 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points and sometimes offers of gift cards as well.

When I opened my Fidelity account for the American bonus I didn’t see any credit pull, so no tradeoff with credit card signup bonuses.

Sad to see cycling no longer an option for these bonuses, which makes the full 50,000 miles out of reach for most. And also sad to see that TD Ameritrade no longer appears to be offering miles for account funding.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Moving in and out of accounts is pennywise and pound foolish. You are forced to realize gains (thus incurring capital gains). Paying a 15/20% capital gain in order to realize 50,000 miles (value, <1% of $100K) is not smart finance.

    Only makes sense if you can exit position with no capital gain implications.

  2. You don’t have to recognize capital gains in this case, most folks do this with cash and either way you should be able to transfer assets rather than selling assets to move money

  3. You can transfer assets, so no sale is needed. Just the hassle of dealing with multiple brokerages and the hassle of dealing with brokerages that don’t know how to handle the transfers – it can take some hand-holding on your part to make sure the transfer goes through on time.

  4. I believe it was holding the cash in there for a few days, withdrawing it and redepositing it; doing it until $100K total was registered in the system. There were no securities purchased. So, this penny/pound thing is an extrapolation of somebody’s extra active imagination. BTW, I thought the rinse/repeat thing went away quite some time back, at least 6 months back.
    Nice to see some posts targeted only towards the 1% :).

  5. Wouldn’t it be better to leave the $100,000 in a Bank Direct account, where you would earn 120,000 miles per year, without all of this effort?

  6. I followed the AA link, and the page provided for either new or existing accountholders. Confused…

  7. the problem i see is you have to keep the money in there for at least 6 months per the T&C. that is too long for $100000 if I am not doing any trading.

  8. The Fidelity offers are for new and existing customers. There is no fee to transfer assets from Vanguard to Fidelity, and the whole process only took about a week. Cost basis and other information was preserved. I plan on transferring another $100k in assets in about six months when I hit the one year mark that is required between bonuses. If the rules don’t change, it will be the third time I’ve scored an easy 50,000 united miles from this.

  9. I believe the UA and AA offers are valid for existing account holders too. I just did the UA one a couple months ago no problem, and I am an existing account holder.

  10. To the above mangoMan and 100contrygoal, do you just keep the 100k in there or you move the money out after you receive the bonus?

  11. Earn up to 50,000 MileagePlus® award miles
    For a limited time only, earn up to 50,000 MileagePlus award miles when you open and fund a nonretirement brokerage account or add new money to an existing one.
    UA offer is valid for existing fidelity customers.

  12. Question: If existing account, is it 100K in NEW money or the 100K already in the account qualifies? I’m assuming new. Any ideas?

    Datapoint: last year, you can get all 3 offers and cycle. I did it just at the beginning of 2012. Got 50K AA, 50K Delta and a 300 Apple GC for cycling 70K a couple of times. I then moved on to my wife’s account but they only gave her the 50K AA as their systems started to update, last systems update in April killed the cycling.

  13. Bank Direct is good for AA miles only ,while Fidelity provides multiple airline options. They also have cd’s at zero point something percent for those who want some meager return while waiting six months.

  14. Sigh.

    Not available to non-US residents, and Fidelity Canada offers no such bonus. Screwed again by the border. I swear, if it weren’t for the free health care….

  15. How soon after depositing $100,000 do you get the miles? I have my money in BankDirect earning AA miles but if this requires me to keep the money in Fidelity for more than 3 months, considering the cost-benefit and hassle factor, I probably won’t do it.

    Also the cycling was gone for at least a year already. Last time when I did this they already refused to give me the miles after depositing an “accumulated” $50k. I then quickly pulled my money out.

  16. I moved an entire account, and they just transfer the securities over to the new managers. So NO need to sell anything!

    Last year I had money in E*Trade, and when Fidelity offer came along I moved 100K to Fidelity in January to claim it’s offer maximum, and the rest to AmeriTrade as they were running a similar offer. This year, after rolling 12 months have passed, I was eligible for the Fidelity offer again. So I moved the rest of my money from AmeriTrade to Fidelity and got miles again. Now I am fully in Fidelity.

    I also moved my Roth but not for miles just to simplify my life. There was a few hundred dollars offered for that though which I gladly took.

  17. @NR — Presumably, if one were to make the deposits/withdrawals with Fidelity, the money would be invested in something earning a “meager” return. I don’t think that the plan here is to invest the $100,000 in stocks.

  18. You can put the money into “cash reserves” which offers tiny interest but incurs no losses. I agree that 100K is a big chunk of change to leave sitting around. I don’t have that much cash lying around, but depositing and removing my rainy day fund from Fidelity works. The miles bonus is not huge, but the value of the miles is more than I can get in interest.

  19. I leave the money in for 6 months, move it to my bank account, then move it back to fidelity to my wife’s account. That way we both get miles for the year.

    Fidelity changed their rules last year to make it once per person and not household.

    I technically would earn more miles in bank direct but this is a mile diversification play.

  20. How long do you need to leave the money at Fidelity? I can’t find that in the T&Cs.

  21. @Michael T (from the AA offer) – Last sentence:

    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.

  22. Depending on how much you are transfering to Fidelity they offer other cash incentive promotions which are more lucrative than the mileage bonuses. The bad news is that you can only take advantage of one promotion a year. Check with your Fidelity account rep.

  23. On April 6th I become eligible for my third time from Fidelity. A great program as far as I am concerned.

  24. I did this for the first time about 2 months ago. One downside (at least for me) is you have to open the account as an individual, trust accounts are not allowed.

    Points posted within a month but they were adamant that I had to keep the funds there for 6 months.

  25. Had some funds gathering dust in a bad savings account, so why not? Went for it. Thanks for the link!!

  26. As @100countrygoal pointed out, all three offers state they are valid for “new or existing Fidelity brokerage account customers opening or depositing net new assets”. Not sure why you are saying this is only applicable to Delta.

  27. What’s truly said is $100,000 in invested assets is seen as out of reach for most. If people would learn to start putting money away early and consistently saving throughout life, these offers wouldn’t seem so far fetched. Says far more about our society and how we plan to pay for retirement as the next generation ages.

  28. what if i pull out fund right after receiving the bonus? will Fidelity claw back the bonus?

  29. DrewBird – to transfer securities from one brokerage to another, avoiding capital gains taxes, request an “in kind” transfer.

    Are there any current offers that earn SPG bonus points?

  30. The SPG TD Ameritrade offer is no longer live as far as I can tell.

    When I wrote the post and in the past the UA/AA offers were quite specific about being only for new customers, that’s appeared to have changed in the T&C

  31. “What’s truly said is $100,000 in invested assets is seen as out of reach for most. ” True, though with a smart investor, much of that would be in a tax-advantaged 401K, IRA, or otherwise not easily fluid. T omax out the 401K and IRA options, and still have 6-figures of fluid assets probably does put people into that 1%

    In this case, I think it was just an attention grabbing headline though. 🙂

  32. Note the very short term expiration date for the AA offer although they maybe they’ll renew it:

    AA – March 31, 2013
    DL – February 14, 2014
    UA – October 1, 2014

  33. It also omits the cost of leaving 100k
    When you have a mortgage at 3.5%, the cost of leaving the 100k for 6 months is at least 1750, even after tax it costs 1000$ for 6 months loan; for 50 k miles = 2 cpm real cost

    It was much easier and less expensive when one could cycle the money in and out

  34. 1. No one seems to answer the question as to long the money needs to be deposited with Fidelity before the miles are deposited to my United Airlines account.

    2. For BankDirect – If I deposit $100,000 in an interest checking account for 1 year do I receive 10,000 AA miles per month? with a fee of only $12/month? any gimmicks?

  35. Best to leave something there for 6 months at least but i only left $1000 for more than a few months personally. And on #2, yes.and no catch.

  36. Because the requirement is that you leave the money in the account for just 6 months but you can cycle the offers every 12 months, you can get 3 x these offers by depositing in account #1, waiting 6 months and moving $ to account #2, waiting 6 months and then back to account #1 to recycle the offer. After 18 months total, you can have 150,000 miles.

    I’ve done this for many years, many cycles, many offers, many accounts with Fidelity (spouse, business, family, friends). When you’ve done an offer in the past, you need to write/call them to confirm eligibility and again for posting. But otherwise it’s easy.

    These offers don’t make sense if it will lead you to do something with the money that you wouldn’t have otherwise. However, if you were already going to park or invest it somewhere, then may as well be Fidelity.

  37. Mooper-Question. So if you sign up for a Delta 50K offer, you fund acct #1. Leave it for 6 months. Then sign up for a United 50K offer, cycle assets to acct #2.

    Then you wait another 6 months. And transfer back to #1 again. But wouldn’t you have to cancel your Delta card and sign back up again to get the 3rd bonus?

  38. Under the terms of the promotion you are only allowed to receive one promotion per year (not both United & American). You can fund $100,000 and withdraw it in 6 months then wait 6 months and do it again.

    Or… You can open a second account with another social security number like your wife’s at any time.

  39. Fidelity: 50k miles if deposit $100,000 within 3 months!

    I have completed this deal one year ago for AA miles. I moved a $100,000 security into Fidelity and moved out after 6 months.

    Since it’s been one year which is the rule will Fidelity honor my attempt to redeposit the same $100,000 security back into Fidelity to get another 50K AA miles?

    I heard Fidelity was frowning on people who do not leave the money/security in for long periods but can’t find any specifics on FT or MP.

  40. This is an old article, but the links still work. In May 2016 I did it for American miles. At that time they said you had to leave the money in 1 year, but they credited me the miles within a month. I put it in a CD so it was close to the interest I would have earned elsewhere. Glad to read that I can do it again for Delta or United.

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