Up to 30,000 American Miles for a New Citibank Checking Account

American is offering miles for different kinds of checking accounts opened by November 30th.

Sign up with offer code CY9S at http://offer.citibank.com/, or by phone at 1-800-254-8790.

Once you’ve opened an account, within 60 days of account opening make at least one direct deposit a month for two consecutive months, and make purchases as follows with your accounts debit card:

  • A Citigold checking account, $750 in charges for 30,000 American AAdvantage miles.
  • A Citibank checking account, $375 in charges for 15,000 American AAdvantage miles.
  • A Basic Banking checking account, $125 in charges for 5,000 American AAdvantage miles.

Back in the day Citibank checking accounts were amazing for earning miles because you could make your initial account funding via credit card, with no limit up to your credit limit, and the transaction would post with most banks as a purchase rather than a cash advance. I used to use my Chase United card to fund the account, it had an $80,000 limit at the time. And I did this on multiple occasions. That trick is sadly no longer available.

This offer isn’t nearly as lucrative. Especially since a Citigold account requires a $50,000 minimum balance to avoid a $30 monthly fee, meaning that without that you’ll be incurring those fees until you close the account after your miles post. Miles will be posted “within 90 days from the end of the statement period in which you met all offer requirements.”

I’m most interested, in any case, in the 15,000 mile offer because Citibank reports miles to the IRS as taxable when they’re used as signup bonuses on a bank account and when the value is believed to be over $600 to one customer in a year. The 30,000 mile offer will trigger a 1099 form, I do not believe that the 15,000 mile offer will.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Gary — Can you tell us the minimum balance and monthly fee for the Citibank checking account?

  2. Nathan, I do not believe anyone has any hard proof (black & white) to show there will not be a 1099 for 30,000 miles. Even the reps from Citi were giving conflicting info…

  3. I have trouble meeting the direct deposit requirement. A few years ago I tried to meet a Chase account requirement. Supposedly some ACH transactions should/could have worked, but they did not, and I earned no bonus. Any new solutions to this for the non-payrolled non-social security crowd? 🙂

  4. I do not believe any of these will trigger a 1099. I think that’s where the debit card purchases come in. The miles are a rebate of those.

  5. Possible but no clear position from Citi, we won’t know until end of January is the problem. Just wanted to be clear that based on past history….. I’d go with 15k miles.

  6. Would Paypal DD qualify? As I am not from US, wondering if I can take advantage of this in some way?

  7. I had a credit limit with Chase that was WAY too high by any rational standard, but I had been putting big reimbursable business expenses on the card for years and they kept inching it up… (plus i would get approved for cards, get more credit, fold those credit lines into my existing lines when i would ditch the cards i got for the signup bonuses)

  8. Yup. Got this offer in the mail, and doing the 30k. I simply split off a small portion of my paycheck for auto-deposit to this account and have things timed out on my calendar to close this out when I’ve hit the requirements. I can live with the 2 x $30 charges for 30,000 miles, e.g. 0.2 cents per mile.

    Yes, I’m aware of the 1099 risk, I’ll take my chances. I doubt it’ll happen.

    Honestly, I thought I had seen a Chase offer for United miles but I couldn’t find it when I went looking.

  9. I’d like to see how you’d report the value of frequent flyer mileage on a 1099- just an arbitrary value that they just pull out of thin air?

  10. I could set up the direct deposit for a couple months, and would probably be willing to take the fee hit for 2 x $30.

    But I’m not sure I could easily spend $750 via the debit card. Can this card be used to load other cards or be used in other ways for other things besides buying stuff at retail?

  11. can existing citi account holders get in on this?
    I know I used to be able to years ago. Not sure now. Any ideas?

  12. If I remember correctly, Citibank used 4cents/mile formula to calculate the 1099 last year. So 15000 miles = $600 interest.

  13. I received a 1099 for 30K miles earned in 2011. In the end, I was sorry that I went thru the hassle of getting and fulfilling the offer given that I had to pay taxes at the value that AA assigned.

  14. I got 40K TYP recently for opening a CitiGold checking account, and I have to say it was such a hassle (multiple phone calls to recode account, all the hassles of changing direct deposit, etc.) that, in hindsight, I don’t think it was worth it. Especially given the opportunity costs (lost ~1% interest or even potentially 8+% interest with Lending Club for a bunch of months on $50K, lost time, etc.)

  15. Gary, in your experience will a Paypal transfer/deposit to the account count as a “direct deposit”?

  16. @mogon it used to but i do not have *recent* experience with a citi checking nor have i paid attention to the experiences of others on this

  17. I will echo what Adam said. Way too much hassle for the points. I did this offer before and the amount of hassle to get the miles (calls and more calls to Citibank and lots of waiting and unfulfilled promises) convinced me “never again.” Citibank is, as far as I can see, super-disorganized. And that is the benefit-of-the-doubt conclusion.

  18. I applied for this offer (I needed a new checking account anyway). But after setting up the new account I realized that it never asked for my AA FF number. Anyone who has opened this acct before know how Citi will credit your AA account?

  19. @DP That’s why it seems to be a targeted offer for Citi AA CC cardmembers. They know their AA number by linking SSN.

  20. I went through all the steps to open an account, only to find out afterward that a “direct deposit” requires me to set myself up on a payroll, paying myself-which requiires a sprcial registration with the state–all because I’m self-employed.
    It became an imposible requirement to fufill for me, and Citi had no flexibility.
    not a good experience. Lot of wasted time

  21. @mark stamm – that’s why i wrote in my post, “make at least one direct deposit a month for two consecutive months” 🙂 But in the past direct deposits have simply meant ACHs and thus paypal transfers have worked, although I have not verified recently whether that still satisfies the requirement or not.

  22. I just found out that Citibank took $1750.93 out of my account as a charge for the 30,000 miles. Has anyone else experienced this? This is outrageous.

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