How I Wound Up on the Bank of America Blacklist – Lessons Learned
I’m sure all businesses have a blacklist policy, and I recently found out I’m on the Bank of America blacklist. Luckily, it doesn’t affect any other banks, and I’ve even opened some business cards from BofA. It seems this is just a personal Bank of America blacklist. The 2 cardinal rules in this hobby are “don’t miss a bonus” and “pay your balance in full”. Behaving badly on the latter years ago is giving me problems today.
Jump back more than 15 years, to when I was single and on my own in school. Like many young people, I got a credit card and didn’t use it responsibly. I also had a checking & savings account with Bank of America, along with my card, and I made only the minimum payments some months. Other months, I didn’t make any payment. The card limit was $2,000. After a few months of being over the credit limit, they closed the card like any bank would.
After a few months of sending me notices, the card went to collections. This is around 10 years ago at this point. I had made some personal goals for my life, one of which included getting out of debt. I called the collection agency and was able to settle for less than the full balance. With interest & fees, I owed around $3,200 at this point. I paid half of that, and the account was considered paid off. This was February 2010.
Between Then and Now
I had no idea that I was on Bank of America’s blacklist and continued on with my life, building credit along the way. I even had a Bank of America checking account while living in Germany during an overseas assignment from the army. A few years ago, I got into the points & miles game. In late 2017, I applied for the Bank of America Alaska Airlines business card as a sole proprietor. They asked for more documents than I could supply, and the application went nowhere.
In March of 2018, I applied again and was approved without any requests for paperwork. I now had a Bank of America business card, and when setting up the account they reactivated my old online account to just use that again. It was 6 years apart between uses, but everything seemed fine.
In August of 2018, I applied for a 2nd Alaska business card from Bank of America, using the LLC that my wife and I have in our names. I provided some basic documents then was approved. I now had 2 business credit cards at the same time, using my same social security number, and no clue Bank of America had me on a personal blacklist.
Finding Out I’m on the Bank of America Blacklist
May 2019, I received a targeted mailer for the Alaska personal card from Bank of America. Considering that Alaska miles are some of the most coveted in this game, I was excited to receive a targeted offer with an elevated bonus. To elevate my chances with Bank of America, since so many people get denied, I’d opened a checking account jointly with my wife. There were a few hundred dollars in it, which we thought could help our applications going forward. I applied for the card and was instantly denied online. I waited for my letter in the mail.
Among other things, the letter cited
- Negative past relationship with Bank of America
- Accounts in collections
- Accounts settled for less than the full balance owed
I knew this had happened in the past, but none of that was current. It was almost 10 years old, so I made a recon call. The phone rep said it was showing as current as of April (the month prior), so I provided records showing I’d paid everything off in 2010. She updated the account and sent it in for review.
I got another denial letter in the mail citing the same issues, so I called in again to ask what’s up. The phone rep said that a senior credit reviewer had denied my application. This call is how I found out I’m on the Bank of America blacklist. After multiple questions and pointing out that this was nearly 10 years ago, the rep said this:
The senior reviewer noted in your account that Bank of America wrote off over $1,000 in losses with you. It’s highly unlikely you will ever get a personal card from us again.
I can have a checking account, and I can have a business account, but personal credit? Not a chance! He told me he was unwilling to discuss whether time, more money in my checking account, opening a secured card to establish credit with them or other options could help. He just kept saying he’s not a financial advisor, and this is their view at this time. I asked for a card with only $500 credit limit to prove to them I could be responsible, but the rep said there was no one on the team above the guy who had denied me. In short: no way.
Going Forward – Final Thoughts
So what does this mean for my points & miles strategy? First, this reconfirmed how important credit history is in this game. Pay your bills on time, keep the banks happy, and never let things spiral out of control. My bad behavior 15 years ago, then settling for half of the balance 10 years ago, has led to a lasting grudge from Bank of America. This makes me ineligible for any of their personal cards, as far as I know.
I will focus on other banks. My wife has had a really hard time with her Bank of America applications, as well, but we don’t think she’s on any blacklist. We’re still hoping she might get some cards from them some day.
I’m focusing on other card issuers, since Bank of America isn’t the only game in town. Some day, maybe I’ll apply for the Business Advantage Travel Rewards card, but not today. I’m on the Bank of America blacklist for personal cards, and offering to pay them back the $1,600 I owe them probably has very little chance of them deciding to give me another card. I see low odds, considering how tough their approvals are. To me, it’s not worth it, and others who aren’t on the blacklist have even given up.
Yeah, I’d love to have their Air France, Virgin Atlantic, and Alaska personal cards, but there’s no one to blame here other than me. Lesson learned: be responsible with your credit cards. Pay the bills, don’t exceed the credit limit, and don’t have your account closed for negative relationship. Bank of America will hold a grudge for a long time, possibly forever.
Now we know there’s a Bank of America blacklist. I know because I’m on it.