Bank of America (BOFA) is one of the lesser-known credit card issuers in the points and miles world. However, they are known for their generous Preferred Rewards program and cash back cards. Membership in the BOFA Preferred Rewards Program increases rewards earned from the bank’s standard cards. The percentage increases with more money in eligible BOFA and Merrill Lynch accounts. However, this post will focus on the best Bank of America credit cards with mentions of the Preferred Rewards Program.
Sign-Up Bonus: 50,000 points (equivalent to $500) for $3,000 spend in 3 months
Earning: 2x points on General Travel and Dining, 1.5x points on Non-Bonus Spend
Perks: $100 Annual Airline Credit, $100 Global Entry / Pre-TSA Credit, Travel Insurances, No Foreign Transaction Fees, Monthly FICO Score
Annual Fee: $95
The Bank of America Premium Rewards Card is Bank of America’s flagship credit card. It is not a premium credit card, despite its name. However, it’s a solid alternative to transferrable points cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The Premium Rewards Card could be a long-term keeper card because it comes with perks that outweigh its annual fee. It is one of the few mid-tier cards that comes with an airline credit and a Global Entry / Pre-TSA credit. Such credits are more common among premium cards.
Furthermore, this card is an excellent earner. The elevated flat rate on non-bonus spend makes it a fantastic everyday card. It’s also great for those with varied expenses. I only wish that the dining and travel bonus category (base) multiplier was 3x instead of 2x.
Another beautiful part about the Premium Rewards Card is its multiple redemption options. You can either redeem points for cash back or for travel purchases. The former option is the most versatile because the cash can be used for anything. But the latter can be used for “erasing” travel purchases by means of points being “travel cash back”.
A decent no-annual fee alternative is the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card. It has no annual fee, no 2x bonus categories, and very few perks. However, its not featured in this post because of its bare-bones nature.
Sign-Up Bonus: $200 for $500 spend in 3 months
Earning: 3% cash back on a category of your choice, 2% at Grocery Stores and (certain) Wholesale Clubs, 1% on non-bonus spend
Perks: Monthly FICO Score
Annual Fee: $0
Cash back lovers rejoice! The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card is a flexible option that will give you loads of cash back on common categories. This card has a tiered earning structure that lets you pick a 3% category from the following list:
- Drug Stores
- Gas Stations
- Home Improvement / Furnishings
- Online Shopping
Bank of America lets you change your 3% category every month if you want. This is nice if you have a 5% / 5x rotating category credit card whose categories are preset. You can choose your 3% category according to the rotating category credit card’s schedule.
Moreover, you will also receive 2% at both Grocery Stores and Wholesale Clubs. This card is a MasterCard, which means you cannot use it at Costco’s brick and mortar stores. There is also a $2,500 quarterly limit on the 3% and 2% categories, which is higher than most 5x / 5% rotating cards.
Cash redemptions are flexible with this card, unlike the Premium Rewards Card. You can redeem for a statement credit, put the money into a BOFA bank account, or invest it (if you have a Merrill Lynch account). Despite the flexible redemption options, the Cash Rewards Card does not have many perks. This is to be expected because it’s a cash back card.
Furthermore, the Cash Rewards Card can be considered a “long-term keeper card”. This is because it has no annual fee and the chance to change your 3% every month.
Alaska Airlines Credit Card
Sign-Up Bonus: 40,000 Miles for $2,000 spend in 3 months
Earning: 3x Miles on Alaska Airlines Purchases
Perks: Annual Companion Pass, Free Checked Bags, No Foreign Transaction Fees
Annual Fee: $75
The Alaska Airlines Card is Bank of America’s best-known co-branded card. It has a $75 annual fee, but it can be a long-term keeper card for Alaska loyalists. Their companion pass is valued at least $121 per year, which makes it worth the annual fee for some travelers. Alaska Miles are very versatile as they can be transferred to one of 15 transfer partners. They can also be redeemed for Alaska flights directly.
This card’s main weakness is its earning structure. It earns more than one point only for Alaska flights. This makes it more of a perks card than an everyday card after earning the sign-up bonus.
Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program
This program increases rewards earned on Bank of America credit cards. If you have an account with Bank of America, you will see your rewards increase by a certain percentage depending on how much is in your account. If you have multiple accounts, the bank takes the total amount in all your accounts to determine the percentage.
The following table can be used to determine revised multipliers for the Premium Rewards (and Travel Rewards) cards:
|Level||Minimum Amount Required||Percentage||2x Travel & Dining||1.5x Non-Bonus Spend|
|Platinum Honors Preferred||$100,000||75%||3.5x||2.625x|
This second table shows the revised multipliers for the Cash Rewards card:
|Level||Minimum Amount Required||Percentage||3% Category of Choice||2% Grocery Stores & Wholesale Clubs|
|Platinum Honors Preferred||$100,000||75%||5.25%||3.50%|
Having a bank account (or several) with BOFA is nice… if you have at least $50,000 stashed away. The Platinum Preferred level is where the rewards for all types of spend outweigh a 2% cash back card.
Bank of America credit cards can be a great fit for those with random travel expenses as well as existing Bank of America customers. The Preferred Rewards Program can be lucrative for Bank of America customers with enough money.
However, those who like transferrable points would be better off with either Chase, American Express, or Citi. These banks don’t have a Preferred Rewards program like Bank of America does, but the value of transferrable points can be even more valuable. Plus, you do not need at least $20,000 stashed away in a bank to earn extra value from your credit card rewards. That’s where transferrable points come into play.