Bank of America Preferred Rewards review May 2019 | finder.com
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Bank of America Preferred Rewards review

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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.

These are the entry points for Bank of America Preferred Rewards:

  • Preferred Rewards Gold: $20,000
  • Preferred Rewards Platinum: $50,000
  • Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors: $100,000

What are the benefits of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program?

The loyalty program boasts these benefits:

  • Incentive to save. The more you save, the more perks you’ll unlock. For example, Gold customers receive a 5% boost on their savings account interest rate. Platinum members get 10% and Platinum Honors members get 20%.
  • Competitive credit card boosts. If you have the Bank of America Travel Rewards, Bank of America Premium Rewards or Bank of America Cash Reward credit card, you could qualify for a bonus of 25% to 75%.
  • Wide-ranging benefits. Depending on your tier, you could earn an auto loan discount of 0.25% to 0.5%, a mortgage origination fee discount of $200 to $600, an interest rate boost on your money market account, or travel perks.
  • Opportunity to invest. Platinum members score up to 30 free trades with Merrill Edge every month, and Platinum Honors members get 100. They can also purchase Vanguard ETFs.
  • 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.
  • Some flexibility available. Merrill Edge benefits may be open to customers with less than $20,000 in investable assets. Chat with your Financial Solutions Advisor to find out more.
  • Waived fees. The bank waives the monthly maintenance fees for up to four checking and four savings accounts. It also reimburses out-of-network ATM fees. 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 doesn’t have the best interest rates in the business. For example, the Platinum Honors tier earn just 0.1% — or $100 — a year in interest on a $100,000 account. You could find an online-only bank account with a higher rate.
  • 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.
  • Limited support. Preferred Rewards specialists are only available by phone.

Case study: Sarah’s experience

profile pic

Sarah George
Writer

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.

Read up on the Bank of America Keep the Change Savings Program

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:

  1. Sign into online banking
  2. Navigate to Savings
  3. Follow the prompts to Enroll in Preferred Rewards

Eligibility

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
Name Product APY ATMs Fee
0.03%
16,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide
$25/month
(can be waived)
Customize your account to fit your needs and experience a wide array of services from a Big Four bank.
0.30%
16,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide
$4.95/month
(can be waived)
Customize your account to fit your needs and experience our full scope of services

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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
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual Fee
$200 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
3% cash back on a chosen category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1% after that and on everything else
$0
Earn more cash back for the things you buy most.
Earn 25,000 online bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days from account opening
Earn 1.5 points on all purchases
$0
Earn 25,000 online bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days from account opening.
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of account opening
Earn 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x points on all other purchases.

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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.

Bottom line

If you meet the requirements, you could enroll in 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.

But if you’re hunting for higher interest rates, compare savings accounts.

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