Bank of America cards: awesome with Platinum Honors Status

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Bank of America issues a number of cards with co-brands such as Alaska, Air France, Amtrak, Asiana, etc.  Clearly they started at the beginning of the alphabet when looking for partners (Spirit and Virgin Atlantic notwithstanding).  But this post is not about those cards. This post is about Bank of America’s own rewards cards: Cash Rewards, Travel Rewards, and Premium Rewards.

None of Bank of America’s own cards would be interesting except for one key thing: Bank of America has an elite program for their banking customers.  The higher your tier, the more rewards these cards earn.  As a result, at the top “Platinum Honors” tier, these cards become very interesting.

Bank of America’s line-up

Here’s the basic info about each card for those without Bank of America elite status. As you’ll see, none are particularly interesting on their own.  In each case, you can do much better with other cards on the market.

Cash Rewards Cards

Bank of America offers both a consumer and business version of the Cash Rewards card, each with no annual fee. Each offers a fixed 2% category and your choice of a 3% category, and 1% elsewhere.  The consumer card limits 2% and 3% rewards to $2500 combined spend per quarter.  The business card limits 2% and 3% rewards to $50K combined spend per calendar year.

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards
Base
1%
Travel
3%
Dine
3%
Gas
3%
Grocery
2%
Shop
3%
Other
3%
Earning rate: 3% back on your choice of the following: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores, home improvement & furnishings (can choose a new category monthly). ⚬ 2% back at grocery stores & wholesale clubs ⚬ 1% back everywhere else. 2% and 3% rewards are capped at $2500 in combined purchases per quarter
Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard
Base
1%
Travel
3%
Dine
2%
Gas
3%
Phone
3%
Office
3%
Biz
3%
Earning rate: 2% on dining plus 3% on 1 choice from: gas stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services or business consulting services (for the first $50,000 in combined choice/dining purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter) and 1% everywhere else.

Bank of America also now offers an Unlimited Cash Rewards card, which features no annual fee and 1.5% cash back everywhere.

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)

Travel Rewards Cards

Bank of America offers both a consumer and business version of the Travel Rewards card, each with no annual fee. Each offers 3X points for travel booked through their portal and 1.5X points everywhere else. Points can be used like Capital One Miles to erase travel purchases at a value of 1 cent per point.  Alternatively, you can move points to the Premium Rewards card in order to straight-up cash out those points for a penny each.

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Bank of America Travel Rewards
Base
1.5X
(1.5%)
Travel
Earning rate: 1.5X everywhere; 3X for travel booked through BOA's travel center
Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
BOA Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard
Base
1.5X
(1.5%)
Travel
Earning rate: 1.5X everywhere; 3X for travel booked through BOA's travel center

Premium Rewards Card

Bank of America offers only a consumer version of the Premium Rewards card.  This card has a $95 annual fee, but also includes $100 annual airline incidentals fee reimbursement.  This card offers 2X for travel & dining purchases, and 1.5X everywhere else.  Points can be redeemed for cash back at 1 cent per point.

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Bank of America Premium Rewards
Base
1.5%
Travel
2%
Dine
2%
Earning rate: ⚬ 2X travel and dining ⚬ 1.5X everywhere else

Bank of America’s elite program

Bank of America offers separate banking relationship elite programs for consumer and business customers.  Both require $100K in deposits to earn top tier Platinum Preferred status.

Preferred Rewards

Here’s a selection of just a few of the perks of the Preferred Rewards program.  The important thing to remember is that you need $100K in combined balances to get a 75% rewards bonus on your Bank of America consumer credit cards.

Shortcut to consumer Platinum Honors status

If you have a retirement account that is managed by a different institution, you can move control of the funds to Merrill Edge.  In many cases you can even earn a cash reward when doing so!  Merrill’s usual bonus is $250 for $100K invested or $600 for $200K invested.  Sometimes they run promotions that are even better.  You can find more information here.

Preferred Rewards for Business

Bank of America offers a separate, but nearly identical, elite program for businesses.

Here’s a selection of just a few of the perks of the Preferred Rewards for Business program.  The important thing to remember is that you need $100K in combined business balances to get a 75% rewards bonus on your Bank of America business credit cards.

Shortcut to business Platinum Honors status

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any tricks to make this easy.  For those with small businesses the easiest option is to open a business checking or savings account with Bank of America and add $100K in funds in order to reach top status.  The good news is that once you reach that status level, you can withdraw funds and your status won’t drop for 12 months.  It’s also possible to open a Merrill Edge small business account and fund that with $100,000.  The advantage to that approach is that you can then invest the money so that it will earn a good rate of return.

If you open a Bank of America business checking account, search for promotions first.  One that recently expired (but the landing page is still live at the time of this writing) is for up to $500.

If you open a Merrill Edge small business account, make sure to speak with a Merrill advisor and ask them about promotions.  You should be able to get at least $250 for adding $100K or at least $600 for $200K.

Consumer & Business programs are separate

You need to earn Platinum Honors status in the consumer program in order to get a 75% bonus on eligible consumer cards.  And you need to get to Platinum Honors status on the business side in order to get a 75% bonus on eligible business cards.

The Platinum Honors credit card line-up

This is where things get interesting.  Here’s the info about each card for those with Platinum Honors status

Cash Rewards Cards with Platinum Honors

Now we’re talking!  Each card’s 2% category is now worth 3.5%, and the 3% category now earns 5.25% cash back!  If it wasn’t for the category bonus caps ($2500 per quarter with the consumer card, $50K per year with the business card), this combination would be unbeatable.

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards (with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards)
Base
1.75%
Travel
5.25%
Dine
5.25%
Gas
5.25%
Grocery
3.5%
Shop
5.25%
Other
5.25%
Earning rate: With Platinum Honors status with Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program, earn: 3.5% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 5.25% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter
Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard (with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards for Business)
Base
1.75%
Travel
5.25%
Dine
3.5%
Gas
5.25%
Phone
5.25%
Office
5.25%
Biz
5.25%
Earning rate: With Platinum Honors status with Bank of America's Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program, this card earns: 3.5% on dining plus 5.25% on 1 choice from: gas stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services or business consulting services (for the first $50,000 in combined choice/dining purchases each calendar year, 1.75% thereafter) and 1.75% everywhere else.

For ongoing unbonused spend, you can’t beat the 2.625% back everywhere that you’ll get with the Unlimited Cash Rewards card after the 75% bonus on that card’s usual 1.5% earnings).

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards (with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards)
Base
2.625X
(2.63%)
Earning rate: 1.5% everywhere; Earn up to 2.625% back everywhere with Bank of America Platinum Honors status

Travel Rewards Cards with Platinum Honors

Once you sprinkle in the 75% bonus to these cards, they offer the same 2.62% return as the Unlimited Cash Rewards card.  The only downside is that points must be redeemed against travel purchases to get full value.

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Bank of America Travel Rewards (with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards)
Base
2.625X
(2.63%)
Travel
5.25X
(5.25%)
Earning rate: With Platinum Honors status with Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program, this card earns: 2.625X points for all spend (and 5.25X for travel purchased through BOA's travel center)
Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
BOA Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard (with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards for Business)
Base
2.625X
(2.63%)
Travel
5.25X
(5.25%)
Earning rate: With Platinum Honors status with Bank of America's Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program, this card earns: 2.625X points for all spend (and 5.25X for travel purchased through BOA's travel center)

Premium Rewards Card with Platinum Honors

This is a great option for those with Platinum Honors status who want a few travel perks along while earning 2.62% everywhere (and 3.5% for travel & dining).  Unlike the other cards listed here, this one has a $95 annual fee, but it includes an annual $100 airline incidental fee reimbursement and travel protections.

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Bank of America Premium Rewards (with Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards)
Base
2.625X
(2.63%)
Travel
3.5X
(3.5%)
Dine
3.5X
(3.5%)
Earning rate: With Platinum Honors status with Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program, earn: 3.5X travel and dining ⚬ 2.625X everywhere else
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Skor

Do both P1 and P2 earn the Platinum Honors status (and hence their individual credit cards) if P1 and P2 have a joint BoA account with $100k in deposits? Or is it only the primary account holder of the deposit account?

Tahoe Trekker

Yes, both will have the Platinum Honors status. Each person’s balance for Premium Rewards qualification is calculated as sum of that individual’s account balances regardless of joint or individual. Joint account balance counts for each person.

V v

Hi, is the ability to move points from the Travel Rewards to the Premium Rewards still available and how does one do that?

[…] Edge accounts was in part to fix our retirement planning, but we got to that goal because of the Premium Rewards card with the allure of Platinum Honors in the Bank of America Preferred Rewards pro…. Additionally, the increased bonuses on the Merrill Edge accounts under the offer we used required […]

[…] per quarter in your choice of categories, which could be grocery stores) unless you can qualify for Bank of America Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors, in which case the Cash Rewards card (and MLB variants) offer 3.5% back on up to $2500 per quarter […]

[…] that 75% bonus, the rate is increased to 2.625% which is an excellent return on everyday spend. Check out this post for more details about Preferred Rewards and the eligible Bank of America credit […]

[…] Bank of America Premium Rewards card is already pretty awesome if you have Platinum Honors (See: Bank of America cards: Awesome if you’ve got $100K lying around). Given the wording of the email, I strongly suspect that this is not targeted, though we’ll […]

[…] are not currently enrolled. Greg has written a lot about the Preferred Rewards program before (See: Bank of America credit cards: awesome if you have $100K lying around). As you’ll see in term #2 above under the last section (“Customers not enrolled in […]

[…] has written before about how the Bank of America credit cards can be pretty awesome with their Preferred Rewards program, particularly the highest-level Platinum Honors. Greg recently wrote about how having that level of […]

Anita

One significant negative of Bank of America that I’ve discovered is that their Claims process is SLOOOOOOOOOW.

I filed a claim 6/10 for a charge that went through on 5/5.

Today is 7/13.

Per CSR, they have not even begun to investigate my claim yet but he assured me it will “definitely” still be resolved within the 90 day window.

It is also frustrating that I have to call them; there is no way to send a Secure Message.

Anita

Does anyone have any experience with disputing a transaction with Bank of America?

I made a very large purchase in late April. Communications issues, delivery problems, & a partial delivery of poor quality caused me to file a dispute 6/9. I haven’t heard anything from BofA yet; no confirmation letter, no request for details or documentation, nothing.

I did call them (no chat or DM option, ugh) a few weeks in and they said they have 30 days to begin the investigation.

I was pretty confident based on a dispute with Chase and one with Amex that I’d be on solid ground disputing this transaction but am concerned now that this dude has had my money for well over two months that I may be screwed.

Mark

Why would you take 2.63% back on everyday spend when the AMEX Blue Business gets effectively 3.1% based on your most recent valuations of transferable points (also Citi Double Cash would get 2.9%)? I get that the B of A 2.65% is cash and the Amex (or Citi) is more limited in it’s use. However, in absolute value to those of us in this game, I think I’ll take the 3.1% and not tie up $100K with B of A.

[…] Preferred Rewards. I am not aware of any other co-branded card that is eligible for the up to 75% bonus on points earned that comes with Bank of America Platinum status. The bonus categories still aren’t very good (you’d probably be better off with the […]

[…] month, Fidelity launched Fidelity Rewards+. This is a similar program to Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards in that it offers additional credit card rewards to those keeping large amounts of money with […]

Stu

I’ve had the card for several years now and I love my 2.625% back on everyday spend. My money is in Merrill Edge and I can and do buy ETFs just like with fidelity. No fees on trades or anything else. For how I invest it’s just as good as fidelity. I have >100K UR points, >100K Citi points, and >100K MR points lying around not to mention hotel and airline points. At the moment I’m not driving hardly ever let alone traveling on a plane to a hotel. So I’ll stick with cash for now and see what happens to the points world. This card is the best game in town for cash back. I got a $900 bonus for moving my money to Merrill too which was nice.

What is also nice is I just set the points to auto redeem and forget about it. No devaluing, no expiring, no timing things just right, etc.

So yea if you’re fortunate enough to have 100K to invest with Merrill, then this can’t be beat. I personally don’t bother with the free card so I can’t comment on that.

3.5% on travel is pretty meh so I don’t consider it as a travel card. The sapphire reserve is the best travel card I ever had. I dumped it when I got the CNB Infinite because I also have the ink preferred and there was a lot of overlap. But then I dumped the CNB when they stripped it of its value. For now though I’m not missing having a travel card so….

Myles

Is it possible to buy vgc (ie. gcm) that code as 3x in online shopping category?

Lindsey

Any luck on this, @Myles?

jerry

you can also get the benefits by being added as a co-owner of a joint checking account with someone who already has any of the tiered statuses

lochquel

The joint checking would have the 100k? Which is a lot of money to have idle?

Probably

Haven’t been approved for a BofA card in three years. Finally closed my checking accounts with them last year. Having an account doesn’t even help to get approved anymore.

Richie

Can I move my Roth IRA from Vanguard inkind and hold my vanguard funds at B of A or would I have to sell and move cash over to B of A?

[…] valuable in terms of making you eligible for a nice bonus on credit card rewards (Greg has written about how Preferred Rewards Platinum status makes Bank of America cards awesome). Good news for those folks who need to use some of their savings at the moment is that Bank of […]

[…] you can handle the $100K requirement (more here about that), this card offers an amazing return of 3.5% back for travel and dining, and 2.62% everywhere […]

[…] Bank of America cards: awesome if you’ve got $100K lying around […]

Pam

I don’t see the marginal difference between this strategy & a 2% cash back card on non-bonus spend worth going thru all necessary hoops & new account openings/maintenance for $155 extra, say, on $25k annual spend.

Ben

Agreed. And if you put that $25K towards min spend on another signup bonus or two, you’re much better off.

CaveDweller

Yes Flip the cards.

CHEERS

Pam

I think there’s only so much flipping someone can/should do while still staying in a premier cc issuer’s good graces (i.e. staying eligible for best offers). To have had, for example, the opportunity for an entire year of 3x non-bonus spend by staying within Chase’s 5/24 rule holds so much more value for my family than a steady stream of crap Comerica & BBVA bonuses or slightly better United & Delta.

How to earn on my spend, on the other hand, is always on my radar because the more effort you put into finding a better % equates to more money in your pocket. I think Greg’s post proved a better rate – I just don’t think by the time you pay termination fees & potential liquidation fees (if BOA doesn’t allow a particular holding) to transfer positions to a new custodian (along with all related new costs) there is much value in that extra .0062 except perhaps at an enormous rate of non-bonus spend that most people simply aren’t doing.

I like articles like this, though, that dive into potential opportunities maybe not previously considered & gives us something to think about to maybe apply. This is one of those good ideas clearly just not good for my situation.

Pam

also, & though not all cash-back (on non-bonus spend), I am super happy with earning either 3x (up to $20k) on the CFU til 4.20; 3.5x on the Bonvoy Biz (up to $30k) thru 11.30; & 3x on the Bonvoy Brilliant (up to $100k) on residual til 12.31. No potential opportunity cost in tying up $100k with BOA, either.

Fay

I got Senior adult P2 the Premium card; she’s very happy to see the monthly statement credits – and not keep track of which card to use anymore.

Rob

Net positive using Plastiq (2.5% fee) with Platinum Honors Premium Rewards (PR) card (2.625% multiplier) FTW. Too bad PR card is a Visa; would love to use it for mortgage.

Ben

If you’re paying a 2.5% Plastiq fee and getting 2.625% cash back, that means $1.25 profit for every $1,000 worth of mortgage you pay.

Honest question – I’m trying to understand if I’m missing something, not to flame you – is that worth the effort?

Rob

Absolutely; I don’t see the effort being hard/time consuming. I will be doing it if that option (pay mortgage with Visa) was available;. “A penny saved is a penny earned”

CW W

It’s actually not worth the effort.

My time is more valuable to me. if you’re jumping through hoops to save a few pennies you got worse problems in life.

Max

Is the $2500/qt spending cap for each card or per person?

Blue

Per Card

Utahshane

Up until few months ago, the beauty of all of this was was earning 3.62% on all purchases with BoA TR + PPBDMC 1%. RIP…

Jack

Wow. How did that work?

Treesha

I’ve been at Platinum Honors level for years, but recently pulled all my funds out of Merrill Lynch. I plan to open a Merrill Edge account to continue being Plat Honors level and get the $375 bonus, but based on chat with BoA I’m being told I have to have a BoA checking account in order for my ME balance to count towards their Preferred Rewards tiers. Is that true? Or did the rep really have no idea of what they were talking about?

Bond

I believe that’s true. The ME links to the checking, and BOA gives you credit for the ME account in tiers.

Also, I believe you need BOA checking to redeem the Cash Rewards at the enhanced rates.

Blue

Yes, you must have a checking account.

Lrdx

It’s true, but if you got to even just Gold, the checking account is free.

SounderTID

Yeah, I have a checking account with $100 in it just to keep the status.

ABC

How sensitive is BoA to CL cycling? How many x CL is “safe” on the Premium Rewards Card?

Blue

BOA is even OK in the mid tier at 50K.

Bond

Note that for the enhanced 5.25% travel categories for the Cash Back and Travel Rewards cards, you travel without insurance. No trip cancellation. No trip delay. No lost/delayed luggage.

You get all those protections with the enhanced 3.5% travel category on the Premium Rewards card.

So for every $1,000 you spend on travel during the year, all the protection only costs you $17.50. Well worth it IMO.

Travel is defined very broadly for the Premium Rewards card. It includes tourist attractions such as art exhibits, zoos, parking garages, toll bridges, etc. I don’t know how travel is defined for the Cash Rewards card.

I believe BOA has a 4/3/2 rule. Two BOA cards on rolling two-month basis. Three BOA cards on a rolling 12-month basis. Four BOA cards on a rolling 24-month basis.

I think they also limit you to one Cash Rewards card (or maybe sign up bonus).

Finally, I believe the enhanced rewards for the Cash Rewards categories are applied when you redeem into a BOA checking account, whereas the Premium Rewards enhancements occur at purchase.

Treesha

With BoA Cash Rewards card, the bonus points show up at purchase, not on redemption into a BoA checking account. I picked online shopping as my 3% category and the bonus points are showing up online…and I don’t have a BoA checking account.

Bond

Thanks for the clarification. I believe if you have a multiplier, the extra 2.25% is awarded on redemption to a BOA account.

Mr G

Yes, the travel insurance provided by the Premium Rewards card is great. Saves me from purchasing separate insurance for each trip or hotel I book now.

Brutus

The Premium Rewards rate (with Preferred Honors) can essentially be duplicated with USAA Limitless (no longer available) and an Uber card. The Alliant card could work instead of the USAA card.

I. B.

The AAA visa, issued in some regions by BofA, (3% Travel, 2% Grocery, 1% Other, no AF, no FTF) is also eligible for Preferred Rewards, but only on the base point. (becomes 3.75%, 2.75%, 1.75%). It can also be used to pool points from the other BofA cards to make cash redemptions easy. You don’t have to be a member of AAA to apply.

I. B.

It wasn’t me, but maybe we both read it here a year or two back. Forgot to mention, the minimum redemption for a statement credit is $50. Cheers!

I. B.

Oh, it also provides free museum entry, I think on a certain day or weekend of the month…Not sure.

Sam

To quote Shania: “That don’t impress me much!” Citi prestige 5% earn in dining. Ink Cash 5% office supply. And I don’t have to move money to BofA to get that.

Scott

Greg,

Can you please clarify / confirm any restrictions on use of these cards? The ATM fees terms that you quote specify US ATMs only, so this isn’t going to replace the Schwab card for international travelers. You mention, “everywhere” frequently in the article, and don’t mention international restrictions on category purchases. Does that mean world-wide earnings or ???

Billy Bob

If you do have the cash, simply by sticking it in All America’s versions of Money Markets at 2.5%, they’ll give you approx. $205 a month, with nothing required of you. That $205 is every month. Seems easier.

ABC

ML has a savings account that gives a higher rate of return?? Or are you saying there’s zero risk in the stock market?.

Hin

Greg is saying if your retirement account already holds stocks then it doesn’t matter much if it is at Merrill vs other places. If you don’t like risk you could invest in a simple Money Market Fund like Vanguard Prime MMF which currently has a 1 year return of 2.19% and get similar returns at almost zero risk while still getting a superior credit card benefit.

Lrdx

If you are afraid of the stock market, you can buy treasury notes/bills/bonds at ME without commissions.

Mr G

You can also open a CD for a better interest rate if you don’t want to move your money over to Merrill Edge.

Billy Bob

Have you looked at these things? Go look for fixed income there. You’ll see front end loads from anywhere from 2.5% up to 4.5%! So, in goes my $100K, and right off the bat I have 95,500 — a $4500 loss immediately. And then there’s the expense ratios: many are at 0.91%, so just keeping my formerly $100K there will cost me ~$900 per year. Keep in mind this is my ‘fixed income’ allocation of my liquid net worth. The riskier investments go where such fees don’t exist: Vanguard in my case. What do you think constitutes mutual funds? It’s the same company stocks in all of them, with different mixes yes but fees definitely matter. These are guaranteed fees too — the flow of money always points to the truth.
I can’t see the benefit of Merrill Edge over a guaranteed 2.5% — keep in mind for this chunk of my money — and it is this very chunk that we all should be playing with and talking about in the context of points and miles.

Billy Bob

By that I mean the money we have extra after reasonable (long-term) investments that are not or less liquid. The stuff left over after taking on enough risk is what everyone should be playing with here unless they’re a MS’ing machine, which most aren’t.

Lrdx

Interestingly, I’ve found zero-cost funds and bonds after spending just about 3s on their website.

TravelWithMiles

You can do a self directed account at Merrill Edge and invest in whatever stocks or funds you like. I opened up one there and have it in Vanguard VOO ETF with a nice low expense ratio and no management fees on the Merrill Edge side.

Mike H

I have their cash back card, MLB branding. I have the highest tier thanks for Merrill Edge + savings/checking. I still value Chase URs more. I went down this alley and couldn’t make cash back make more sense to me than using URs.l from a value perspective. Cold hard math would say the top tier % back from BOA make marginally more sense. I do like a fat UR balance though. Ease of use is a factor as well. Maybe I’m missing something?

Mike H

Good point. Might need to figure out my best earnings per category and work from there.

Lrdx

It might also worth using TR and buying miles with cash instead of using FU and transferring to the same program; many often have miles sales for less than the breakeven 1.75c price.

Leon

The MORE points are acquire the more I realize that the future of points redemption is cash back for travel. Airlines are moving to dynamic point pricing and saver availability is absolute garbage. I’ll take the cash back towards travel rewards. Book my tickets however I want whenever I want with any airline I want (unlike my airline of choice with AMEX, what garbage!)

Patrick

Do you think Bank or America will ever develop a program where points can be transferred to transfer partners, like AMEX, Chase and Citi has?