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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
|Benefit||Gold (required balance is $20,000-$49,999)||Platinum (required balance is $50,000-$99,999)||Platinum Honors (required balance is $100,000+)|
|Savings account interest rate boost||5%||10%||20%|
|Credit card rewards bonus||25%||50%||75%|
|No fee ATM transactions||Up to 12 per year||Up to 12 per year||Unlimited|
|Merrill Guided Investing fee discount||0.05%||0.10%||0.15%|
|Mortgage origination fee reduction||$200||$400||$600|
|Auto loan interest rate discount||0.25%||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:
|Card||Sign-up bonus||Spending categories||Annual fee|
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card||25,000 online bonus points after at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening and $0.||Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire||$0 Annual Fee|
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card||$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.||3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), 1% cash back on all other purchases||$0 Annual Fee|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card||50,000 online bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.||2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases, 1.5 points per $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 credit card||Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card||Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card|
|Groceries/Wholesale Clubs||2.62%||3.5% ($2,500/quarter)||2.62%|
|Gas||2.62%||5.25% ($2,500/quarter, if gas is your choice category)||2.62%|
|All other purchases||2.62%||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® credit card or the Bank of America® Travel Rewards 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 credit card, Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card and Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.