Improved 60k offer. The Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card is the mid-tier premium card in the line-up, with added perks in exchange for an $95 annual fee. (Comparable with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and American Express Green cards.) This card also participates in the Preferred Rewards program, which gives you better rewards if you let BofA hold of your assets. Here are the highlights:
- Earn 60,000 bonus points ($600 value) after making $4,000 in purchases in first 90 days of account opening.
- Earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases.
- Earn 1.5 points for each dollar spent on all other purchases.
- 10% customer bonus 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% – 75%. See details below.
- Up to $100 annual airline incidental statement credit for qualifying travel purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services and airport lounge fees.
- Up to $100 airport security statement credit towards TSA Precheck or Global Entry Application fee, every four years.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- $95 annual fee.
- No limit to earning points, and points don’t expire.
Preferred Rewards bonus. 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 (click to enlarge):
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 result in earning less interest on your cash deposits. Merrill Lynch advisory accounts also usually come with management fees. The sweet spot is if you have brokerage assets like stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs.
In the past, moving over to Merrill Edge at the Platinum and Platinum Plus levels also led to 30 to 100 free online stock trades every month. Fast forward to now, and nearly all major online brokers offer commission-free trades anyway.
Personally, I moved over $100k of brokerage assets to Merrill Edge to qualify for Platinum Honors. This can include your existing ETFs and mutual funds held elsewhere (Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab, etc). I realize not everyone will have this level of assets to move around, but if you do then it is worth considering. Keep in mind that it will take a while for your “3-month average combined balance” to actually reach the $100k level and officially qualify for Platinum Honors. You might become Gold first, then Platinum, and so on. After that, the 25%-75% rewards bonus on credit card rewards kick in.
Once you reach a certain tier, BofA guarantees that you will stay there for a year no matter what, even if your balance fluctuates. Note that the terms state “The Preferred Rewards bonus will replace the customer bonus”, which means that you will lose the 10% customer bonus when you qualify for the 25% to 50% bonus.
Here’s are the cash back rates after the Preferred Rewards bonuses:
- Platinum Honors (75% bonus): 3.5% cash back on travel and dining, 2.625% cash back on all other purchases.
- Platinum (50% bonus): 3% cash back on travel and dining, 2.25% cash back on all other purchases.
- Gold (25% bonus): 2.5% cash back on travel and dining, 1.875% cash back on all other purchases.
Rewards comparison. This card has a more flexible rewards structure than their BankAmericard Travel Rewards card in that the points don’t have to offset a travel purchase. You can redeem at a flat 1 point = 1 cent value towards a statement credit or deposit into eligible Bank of America or Merrill Lynch® accounts (including deposit, investment or 529 accounts).
Getting a flat 2.625% (Platinum Honors) or 2.25% cash back (Platinum) on all purchases is a very solid base earning level. In terms of the competition, there are now multiple cash back cards in the 2% cash back range such as the Citi Double Cash Card with no annual fee. That means I wouldn’t bother with this card for everyday purchases if I wasn’t Platinum or Platinum Honors.
Also note that you can also earn similar levels of everything rewards (minus the travel/dining bonus category) but restricted to offsetting a travel-related purchase with the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card – except with no annual fee. The question then reverts back to if you can offset that $95 annual fee with the $100 annual incidental airline credit good towards seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services and airport lounge fees. (Sadly, everything seems to be an added fee these days.) If you can get max value out of that airline incidental credit every year, then that removes the major disadvantage when compared to the BofA Travel Rewards card. You can then enjoy the added perks like the $500 value sign-up bonus, $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit once every 4 years, and the higher rewards on travel/dining bonus.
Bottom line. The Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card is rather average in basic form, but is elevated into an excellent card if you can qualify for the Platinum or Platinum Honors tiers of their Preferred Rewards program for up to 3.5% cash back on travel and dining and 2.625% cash back on all other purchases. Note the the $95 annual fee is not waived for the first year. Consider your ability to use up the $100 annual incidental airline credit.
Also see: Top 10 Best Credit Card Bonus Offers.
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