Bank of America Preferred Rewards review
Get paid for keeping money in your checking and investment accounts with this loyalty program.
If you’ve stashed at least $20,000 with Bank of America, it may be worth it to enroll in the Preferred Rewards loyalty program. It has three tiers — Gold, Platinum and Platinum Honors — and opens up opportunities to invest and earn rewards on your everyday banking. But while the perks are solid, you could find better interest rates elsewhere.
Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and kids’ debit cards. She’s been featured on Legal Zoom, MSN, and Consolidated Credit and has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. When not writing, you can find her exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.
If you meet the requirements, you could enroll and reap the wide-ranging rewards of the Preferred Rewards program. The program is most lucrative for high-balance customers who can qualify for Platinum Honors and score the 20% savings boost and 75% bonus on credit card earnings.
However, not all cards qualify, and you may find the eligibility criteria to be too stringent to get in. You may also be able to find better interest rates with other institutions, though the additional features might not be quite as extensive.
How does the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program work?
The Preferred Rewards program offers attractive perks to existing BOA and Merrill Edge customers with at least $20,000 in combined account balances. If you qualify, you can immediately enroll and start taking advantage of its benefits. Plus, the more you save, the more perks you unlock.
What are the benefits of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program?
The loyalty program boasts these benefits:
- Free to join. There are no fees to join or participate in Preferred Rewards.
- Combined accounts. Rather than being hinged on one account, your tier is based on the combined balances in your Bank of America, Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch accounts.
- Waived fees. BOA waives monthly maintenance fees for up to four checking and four savings accounts. Platinum and Platinum Honors customers can access free international wire transfers and a small safe deposit box.
- Grace period. Once you reach a rewards tier, you’ll receive all the benefits of that tier for 12 months. If you no longer meet the requirements at the one-year mark, there’s a three-month grace period.
What should I look out for?
The Preferred Rewards program does have a few drawbacks:
- Low interest rates. As a traditional bank, Bank of America‘s interest rates are much lower than online-only banks.
- Strict eligibility requirements. To qualify, you’ll need a three-month average combined balance of $20,000 (Gold tier), $50,000 (Platinum) or $100,000 (Platinum Honors).
- Not all credit cards qualify. The bank’s secured cards, business credit cards and nonreward cards — such as the BankAmericard® Credit Card — don’t qualify for Preferred Rewards.
- Associated fees. With Merrill Edge, sales are subject to a transaction fee of $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal, and some fees apply to owning ETFs.
If you’re not interested in the Preferred Rewards Program or simply want to see what else is available, compare rewards checking accounts to find the best fit for your financial situation.
Case study: Sarah’s experience – May 2019
The benefits I get with this account depend on whether I’m a Gold, Platinum or Platinum Honors member.
First, I enjoy a 25% rewards bonus on my credit card, which is 15% more than the standard bonus. I love using my card for regular purchases, and I’ve received hundreds in cash back because of it. Second is the no-fees benefit, which means I don’t get charged for card replacement, check orders or cashier’s checks.
A few downsides, though: the maintenance fee waiver doesn’t really benefit members, because they have enough money to cover account requirements anyway. I haven’t needed the auto loan or home equity discounts yet. Without doing much research, these discounts seem small.
I also get an increased savings account APY, but Bank of America‘s is below average for that. So the best features for me are the cashback bonus and fee waivers, plus you get a priority customer service phone number.
How do I enroll?
If you have $20,000 or more in your Bank of America checking or Merrill Lynch or Merrill Edge investment accounts, you can enroll online. These are the steps:
- Sign into online banking
- Navigate to Savings
- Follow the prompts to Enroll in Preferred Rewards
To qualify for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, you’ll need:
- A Bank of America personal checking account
- $20,000 or more in qualifying Bank of America accounts, which include Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts
- A Bank of America Rewards Savings account to get the interest rate booster
- An eligible Bank of America credit card to receive the credit card bonuses
What Bank of America accounts work with Preferred Rewards?
Preferred Rewards is linked to your personal checking account with these options:
- Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking
- Bank of America Advantage Plus Banking
- Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking
Which Bank of America credit cards work with Preferred Rewards?
Only rewards-branded cards qualify. These include:
- Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
Non-rewards credit cards
- Business purpose credit cards
- BankAmericard Privileges
- Bank of America Accolades
- BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards
- Merrill Lynch branded (including Merrill Accolades, MERRILL+, Total Merrill Cash Back, Total Merrill Match and Merrill Lynch Octave)
- U.S. Trust branded (including Bank of America Accolades and U.S. Trust Octave)
- AAA Dollars Visa credit card
- AAA Gas Rebate
- Alaska Airlines
- Asiana Airlines
- Azamara Club Cruises
- Bass Pro Shops
- Celebrity Cruises
- Elite Rewards
- Royal Caribbean International
- Spirit Airlines
- US Airways
- Virgin Atlantic Airways
How can I get in touch with Bank of America?
To chat with a specialist, call 888-888-7937, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.