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.

Bank of America 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

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.

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.

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

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.

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…