The BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card is the main “travel rewards” credit card branded by Bank of America. In this review, I’ll cover the card features but also focus on a lesser-known opportunity – if you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% – 75%. For such “relationship” customers, the bonus can change this card from good to great. Read on for details.
Here are the highlights of this card:
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don’t expire
- 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days – that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
- Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
- Now with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
- 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 15.24% – 23.24% Variable APR
- Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
- If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% or more. Click “Apply Now” to learn more about Preferred Rewards
The Preferred Rewards program is designed to rewards clients with multiple account and higher assets located at Bank of America banking, Merrill Edge® online brokerage, and Merrill Lynch® investment accounts. Here is a partial table taken from their comparison chart:
Let’s consider the options. Bank of America’s interest rates on cash accounts tend to be lower than highest-available outside banks, so moving cash over to qualify may reduce your interest earnings. Merrill Lynch advisory accounts also usually come with management fees. However, if you have brokerage assets like mutual funds and ETFs, moving them over to Merrill Edge may actually reduce your costs because at the Platinum and Platinum Plus levels they will actually give you 30 to 100 free online stock trades every month.
I recently did a partial transfer of a little over $100k of brokerage assets (Vanguard funds) over to Merrill Edge to qualify for Platinum Honors. I should mention it may take a while for your “3-month average combined balance” to actually reach the $100k level and officially qualify for Platinum Honors. Only after that will the 75% rewards bonus on credit card rewards kick in.
(Side note: Stack this offer with their Merrill Edge brokerage sign-up bonus. Moving over $100k will get you $500 if you respond by 12/15/15.)
Cash Back Rewards Tiers for Preferred Rewards
This card has a relatively simple rewards structure; you earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases. 1 point = 1 cent statement credit against any travel purchase made on the card (flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees). As long you as you travel at least occasionally, I feel it is okay to value them at 1 cent per point, which means you could call this a “1.5% back on all purchases, if applied towards travel purchases” rewards card. Here’s how the bonuses then work out:
- Platinum Honors: 2.625% back, if applied towards travel, or 2.625 points per dollar spent on any purchase (75% bonus).
- Platinum: 2.25% back, if applied towards travel, or 2.25 points per dollar spent on any purchase (50% bonus).
- Gold: 1.875% back, if applied towards travel, or 1.875 points per dollar spent on any purchase (25% bonus).
Note that the terms state “The Preferred Rewards bonus will replace the customer bonus you may already receive with the card.”, which I interpret to mean that you will lose the 10% bonus for redeeming your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account.
(Update: Here are my redemption tips and experiences on qualifying for and receiving 2.625% back towards travel.)
Well, I think their plan is working because Bank of America has managed to convince me to go from only having a checking account with them to now also having a Merrill Edge brokerage account and a Bank of America credit card. I definitely realize not everyone will have this level of assets to move around, and so this is somewhat a restricted offer. But if you do then it is worth considering. Both Platinum and Platinum Honors levels allow you to reach tiers that effectively give you over 2% back on all purchases, with the important caveat that your rewards must offset previous travel purchases on the card.
Not all Bank of America consumer credit cards qualify for Preferred Rewards. Another card that does qualify is the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card. I picked this BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card myself, but for other folks the grocery and gas bonuses specifically available on the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card might give you higher rewards.
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