Big Miles for Opening and Funding Brokerage Accounts

About a week and a half ago, the excellent Gary of Free Frequent Flyer Miles posted that the supposedly-expiring Fidelity brokerage offer for United miles has been extended, and that the American and Delta offers are still available. (Last year’s offer of American Express Membership Rewards points appears not to be available any longer.)

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

You can choose to earn the miles currently with three different programs. And you can even earn miles, apparently, with two of the three — not just one.

Yesterday The Points Guy wrote that he just got started on the United offer, intends to do the Delta offer as well, and reports that there is no credit pull when opening one of these accounts so it doesn’t stand in the way of churning credit cards for signup bonuses.

The United and American offers say that they are for first time accountholders only. The Delta offer’s terms and conditions does not include that same stipulation. So you want to choose United or American first. And then after you begin funding your account, register for the Delta offer. (An Apple Gift Card offer is also running through December 31 and apparently stackable with United or American and with Delta. I believe the gift card will be tax reportable.)

While it seems like a lot of money is required to earn the miles, you don’t need to actually deposit the money to earn the miles in a single go — based on the reports of many over time you can deposit, withdraw, deposit. So $10,000 in and out 10 times should earn the top bonus for a $100,000 deposit.

The minimum amount for initial deposit is $2500 and you could just keep cycling the $2500 deposit/withdrawal amounts. But since each cycle will take about a week, that amount is too low to get up to $100,000 total deposited — since it would take 40 weeks. You need to fund the full amount you’ll get bonused for within 90 days of account opening. So $10,000 seems doable, but it’s probably worth saving the hassle and using a larger amount if you have access to it.

It appears that the most you can deposit initially, without waiting for your linked account to be verified, is $25,000. If you want to do a larger amount right away just wait for the link to be processed.

Cycling certainly isn’t the intent of the promotion and it’s certainly the case that this could stop working at any time. There’s a couple of speculations out there that it’s already stopped, but based on no evidence other than a weekly expected mileage posting didn’t happen in late December but that’s also consistent with it simply being Christmas-time when lots of work seems to stop until the New Year.

You can also transfer in assets from another brokerage, some time back I took advantage of the TD Ameritrade offer for Starwood Starpoints and may go this route myself.

The TD Ameritrade offer of 20,000 Starwood Starpoints for a $25,000 initial deposit supposedly ends December 31. The other offers say the same thing, and require greater deposits for a similar number of miles (e.g. $50,000 deposit for 25,000 American Airlines miles and of course since 20,000 Starpoints transfer to 25,000 American miles I like the Starwood offer – which only requires a $25,000 deposit – better). Here’s the offers for United, Delta, US Airways, and Amtrak. These have been around for awhile and getting extended for years so if I had to guess I imagine the offers will get extended again but of course there are no guarantees.

In doing any of these deals, read all the terms and conditions, my post shouldn’t be considered financial advice. And while most don’t have a problem pulling funds out right away after miles post, the rules usually say you’re supposed to leave it in the account at least six months and there’s enough at stake that I’d follow those rules, occasionally there are at least unverified reports of folks who have closed out their accounts in less than six months having miles clawed back. I’m not sure how credible those reports are but I wouldn’t risk it.

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. Great information on the potential to cycle deposits in and out for those of us who may not have access to a full $100K in one shot. I’ll have to do some reading on this offer; the miles are definitely a great incentive.

  2. Gary,

    re: T&C’s on the Ameritrade offer:

    “Account must remain open with minimum funding required for participating in the offer for 9 months, or TD Ameritrade may charge the account for the cost of the Starpoints. Allow 6 weeks from account funding for the first half of Starpoints to appear in the Starwood Preferred Guest account. To qualify for the second half, TD Ameritrade account must remain open with minimum funding required for participating in the offer for 6 months from the first Starpoints posting date.”

    Is the minimum funding $2k, therefore one needs to maintain a $2k balance for 6 additional months – or $25k if one is going for the 20k Starpoints?

  3. Also, FYI, some brokerages charge a withdrawal fee. Something to look out for in any event…

  4. About 6 months ago I did both the Ameritrade 20k deal (got both halves of the promotion already and am withdrawing once I have the money in for the required 90 more days) and the Fidelity 100k deal (registered on both the United & Delta websites and got BOTH hits for the one deposit). I closed out Fidelity already after the required amount of time and did not have any pts withdrawn, it was completely fine. I am happy with both promos.

  5. Currently the Ameritrade offers say that they expire December 31. But for as long as I have been doing my website they have been renewing the offers every three months. Sometimes they are a few days late, probably due to holidays or whatever. So I suspect that all but the Continental offer will be renewed soon.

  6. Thanks for the information. Does the cycling need to occur after the 90 day trial or is it fine to cycle during the 90 day as long as the $10,000 stays in the account afterwards?

  7. You need to get up to full funding during the initial account opening period, so that is when you’d be cycling deposits (if that’s a route you choose) in order to get there with less money and earn full bonus.

  8. I don’t see where in the Fidelity terms it says the funds have to be in the account for a certain amount of time. I am trying to get the United, Delta, and Apple offers for both my wife’s account (newly opened) and my existing account by cycling out funds in 100k increments.

    Would this work?

  9. I don’t see where in the Fidelity terms it says the funds have to be in the account for a certain amount of time. I am trying to get the United, Delta, and Apple offers for both my wife’s account (newly opened) and my existing account by cycling out funds in 100k increments.

    Would this work?

  10. @tenniskid it probably will, but i cannot guarantee that it will, apparently it’s been working for folks but at some point it may not any longer

  11. For the Apple gift card, the rules seem different than for the airline promos.

    Sounds like you must have the money in there within 30 days and all the money for your selected tier (so minimum of $75K) must stay in the account for 9 months (not 6 months like with the miles ones)

    Am I ready this right?

    From the Fidelity website:
    “Cash and securities from eligible account sources will be aggregated to determine total account funding over the 30-day period following offer registration; assets will be valued 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. Account holders must maintain a minimum account balance in the corresponding tier (minus any losses related to trading or market volatility) for at least nine months from the date on which the Gift Card is issued, otherwise Fidelity may charge the account the cost of the Gift Card. This promotional offer is limited to one per household and per lifetime of the individual(s) named on the Fidelity Account.®”

  12. I’m looking into these options now and I’ve found that the Apple gift card has been extended – “This offer expires on June 30, 2012”.

    To make these stackable I’m guessing I have to first open a new CO/AA account (hrmm… which?) and then use the “Fund an existing account” option for the Apple gift card.

    I too did the TD Ameritrade/Starwood deal several years ago and I figure it’s time for another bonus.

  13. So I just got my Delta miles, my wife got United miles, and we’ll see about the gift card…

    Anyone have the experience of the miles being pulled after you take the $$ out early?

  14. Gary,

    Sound my dollar “churning” is going very well with fidelity with 25k points posting both to Delta and United so far and I should get the full 50K in each when I get to 100k deposits. My question is, after the six months have passed and I close this account, it is likely I can do this all over again next year by opening a new account?

  15. Has anyone confirmed how to piggy back the Apple Card with Miles promotion?

  16. Hi Gary,
    From T&C on the United/AMerican/Delta Fidelity offers:
    “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.”

    Sounds like they’ve ended the in/out cycling? I’d have to keep $100K in for 6 months?

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