Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program Guide: Maximizing Your Banking Relationship and Credit Card Spending

Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program Guide: Maximizing Your Banking Relationship and Credit Card Spending

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Bank of America offers its own rewards program to its customers as a way to thank them for their business. As a member of the Preferred Rewards program, you can qualify for special discounts on financial products such as mortgages and auto loans. These discounts increase in value as your investments grow with Bank of America.

However, the real value in this program is the increase in value of the credit card rewards. By maximizing the value of the Preferred Rewards program, you can increase your credit card rewards value by up to 75%. While names like American Express and Chase tend to dominate the rewards space, Bank of America Preferred Rewards is worth considering if you have a Bank of America rewards credit card.

How to sign up for Bank of America Preferred Rewards

The Bank of America Preferred Rewards program incentivizes customers to use Bank of America as a one-stop shop for financial products. This is much different than programs like American Express Membership Rewards® or Chase Ultimate Rewards® as these programs focus on rewarding credit card activity. If your banking activity is more complex than a simple checking and/or savings account, the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program is an outstanding way to maximize your banking relationship.

There are two requirements to enroll in the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. You must have an eligible Bank of America checking account and a three-month average combined balance of $20,000 or more in either qualifying Bank of America banking accounts and/or Merrill Guided Investing accounts.

Once you meet these requirements, you can enroll through your Online Banking portal.

Bank of America rewards program benefits

Like many things in life, the more you put into the Preferred Rewards program, the more you get out of it. The program has a tiered structure, giving consumers more benefits the more they invest in their banking relationship with Bank of America. And while each tier has the same benefits, the value of benefits increases significantly with each tier.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards tiers

BenefitGold (required balance is $20,000-$49,900)Platinum (required balance is $50,000-$99,900)Platinum Honors (required balance is $100,000+)
Savings account interest rate boost5%10%20%
Credit card rewards bonus25%50%75%
No fee ATM transactionsUp to 12 per yearUp to 12 per yearUnlimited
Merrill Guided Investing fee discount0.05%0.10%0.15%
Mortgage origination fee reduction$200$400$600
Auto loan interest rate discount0.25%0.35%0.50%

Savings interest rate boost. Preferred Rewards members receive a 5% to 20% increase on their savings account interest rate. While the numbers sound impressive, you should consider that Bank of America savings accounts interest rates are nearly at 0%, and the increase in interest from the Preferred Rewards program is satisfactory at best. For a savings account with a much higher interest rate, check out our best savings accounts page.

Credit cards rewards bonus. Members can get a 25% to 75% boost on rewards earned with a Bank of America credit card. This is a lofty benefit of the program, which we'll detail below.

No fee ATM transactions. Depending on your status, you can receive up to 12 free ATM transactions from an ATM that isn't Bank of America related, or you can receive unlimited transactions. If you visit regularly and fall into the Gold or Platinum categories, be sure to keep track of how many withdrawals you make.

Merrill Guided Investing fee discount. Merrill Guided Investing partners with Bank of America to meet the investing needs of its customers. However, their retirement accounts have ancillary fees to cover the management costs. As a member of the Preferred Rewards program, those fees can be reduced up to 0.15%.

Mortgage origination fee reduction. Mortgage origination fees can range in price, but will typically cost 0.5% to 1% of the closing costs. The Preferred Rewards program can help reduce that cost by up to $600 if you use Bank of America for your mortgage.

Auto loan interest rate discount. As of July 15, 2020, Auto loans from Bank of America start as low as 2.69% APR, and that interest rate can be reduced up to 0.50% through the Preferred Rewards program.

While your banking benefits will increase with growing investment, it is vital to remember what your financial needs are. For example, the mortgage origination fee reduction isn’t beneficial if you do not plan on purchasing a home. So before diving in, evaluate which benefits you can utilize and if they are competitive to other banks.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards credit cards

If you want to make the most of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, you should consider signing up for one of its bank credit cards. Preferred Rewards members receive between a 25% to 75% bonus on the rewards that they earn with these cards:

CardSign-up bonusSpending categoriesAnnual fee
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening (a $250 value) and No Annual Fee.Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere.No Annual Fee
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card$200 after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening.3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings.
2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
1% cash back on all other purchases.
$2,500 limit in combined purchases for the 3% and 2% categories each quarter, then earn 1%.
No Annual Fee
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card50,000 bonus points after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. That's a $500 value.2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases.
1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
$95

If you have over $100,000 in cash between your checking account and your Merrill Guided Investing account, you will reach Platinum Honors status. If you can pair this with one or more of the Bank of America credit cards, you can achieve outstanding returns on your spending. Here are the category bonuses that a Platinum Honors member can earn on the Bank of America cards with the 75% bonus figured in:

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit cardBank of America® Cash Rewards credit cardBank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card
Travel/Dining2.62%1.75%3.5%
Groceries/Wholesale Clubs2.62%3.5% ($2,500/quarter)2.62%
Gas2.62%5.25% ($2,500/quarter, if gas is your choice category)2.62%
All other purchases2.62%1.75%2.62%

These rates are outstanding in comparison to other credit cards on the market. To start, the gas category will deliver a whopping 5.25% back per $1 spent. This supersedes the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, which only gets you the following: 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter, 3% on restaurants & travel, 2% at Costco & Costco.com, 1% on all other purchases.

For those who spend outside of these specific categories, the 2.62% rate on other purchases is nearly unbeatable. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer lets you Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. While this is one of the strongest rates around, it falls short of the 2.625% rate offered for Platinum Honors members with either the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card or the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card.

Though these rates are excellent, it is vital to always analyze your spending to pick the best credit cards and loyalty programs for your needs. Nearly all cards and programs have unique benefits and incentives to draw in new customers, but they won’t all work for you. To determine if the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program is worth it, identify your financial needs and see if the program benefits match them. If they do, the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program may be worth your investment.

The information related to Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card, Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card and Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Brett Holzhauer

Brett Holzhauer is ValuePenguin’s travel rewards expert, focusing on credit card rewards maximization, consumer travel trends, and personal finance news. He has earned and burned over 5 million points and miles throughout his travels, saving him roughly $75,000 in travel expenses.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).