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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