Bank of America – What’s In My Wallet
I cover a lot of credit card topics on Miles to Memories including which cards I feel are unique, which cards offer great value and which ones are duds. Sometimes I know readers wonder which cards I personally carry and which ones I cover, but don’t have for various reasons. As part of this new series, I will go in depth to describe which products I have with each bank and why. Today I’ll start with Bank of America.
Bank of America Credit Card Strategy
Anyone who has followed this blog for awhile knows that Bank of America used to hate me. They notoriously gave me $1K credit lines on all of my applications (which meant lower bonuses on the Alaska card), so I stopped applying for their cards for awhile. Thankfully, my wife was not on the hate list and she has consistently been able to get cards with generous credit lines.
A couple of months ago I wrote about the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program and its generous benefits. You can find the details in this post, but I feel it is important to note that I now have the top tier status in that program and thus get a 75% bonus on select credit cards. That plays a HUGE role in my overall Bank of America strategy as you will see.
Bank of America Application Tips & Need to Knows
Before going into the cards I carry, I thought it might be nice to go over any rules or need to knows about applying for Bank of America cards. Thankfully Bank of America isn’t as complicated as some of the other banks. They do allow you to get more than one card in a day (within reason) and they have been known to combine credit inquiries so if you apply for two cards in one day, you will only have one inquiry.
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature is perhaps the most popular BofA card in the travel hacking realm. Many people in the hobby have been able to get this card multiple times and in that way it is quite valuable. While we did see the recent Emirates devaluation, Alaska still has a ton of other partners including Cathay Pacific making these miles attractive to have.
This card also comes with a $99 ($121 with taxes/fees) companion certificate. I truthfully have had a few of these expire over the years, but I have also used them successfully to save big on flights to Hawaii. It isn’t a big reason to get the card, but instead is a nice side benefit.
Best Offer: The current public offer is 30K miles, but the best offer (linked to below) is 30K miles + $100 statement credit after $1K spend in 3 months. The $75 annual fee is NOT WAIVED. Application Link
What can I say? This card is now at the very top of my wallet. While the Travel Rewards card normally earns just 1.5 points per dollar (1.5% back) now that I have Platinum Honors status with BofA, I get a 75% bonus which brings the total to 2.625%. I now use this card for every non-bonused purchased I have and I am loving it!
Additionally, this card comes with no foreign transactions fees and no annual fee. The rewards are easier to redeem than with the Arrival Plus card and it even has a decent sign-up bonus. (For a no annual fee card.) Without Platinum or Platinum Honors status there are better cards, but if you can get to one of those tiers (look here), this card is worth a look.
Best Offer: The current best offer is 20,000 points ($200) after $1K spend in 90 days.
The final Bank of America card I carry is the Cash Rewards card. This no annual fee card also earns a 75% bonus similar to the travel rewards card. Since the normal earn rate on the card is just 1X, it doesn’t make sense for normal purchases, but it also has two bonus categories that pay on up to $2,500 in spend.
- Grocery and Warehouse Clubs: 2% becomes 3.5%
- Gas: 3% becomes 5.25%
Those payouts are nice and competitive, especially in quarters where Discover and/or Chase Freedom don’t have gas or grocery as a bonus category. I do use this card when the payouts make sense, but it isn’t always sitting in my wallet.
Best Offer: The current best offer is 10,000 points ($100) after $500 in purchase in 90 days.
Offer Note: There are co-branded versions of this card that often have $200 sign-up bonuses, however I am not aware of any $200 bonuses right now. The MLB Cash Rewards card had a $200 bonus up until last week, but it expired.
With each bank, I think it might be useful to quickly mention any cards that I am considering or might apply for in the future. With Bank of America, there are two cards I am keeping an eye on.
Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard – By spending enough money on this card, I can unlock transfers from Amtrak to Choice hotels at a nice rate. The card does require $20K in spending to unlock the transfers and has a $79 annual fee which has made me hesitate.
Spirit Airlines Credit Card – As I wrote last week, I have had good experiences flying Spirit and they are among the fasted growing carriers at my home airport. This card makes it very easy to keep Spirit miles from expiring (they normally expire after 90 days) and it also unlocks redemptions as low as 2,500 miles each way. I’m not sold yet, but it is definitely something I am considering.
My Bank of America credit card strategy is fairly simple, but effective. I have earned a lot of Alaska miles which I use for international flights on their partners and the Cash & Travel Rewards cards provide me with an amazing earn rate given my Platinum Honors status. While I might add a fourth product to the mix, I am happy with my Bank of America strategy, given my more complicated product positions with other banks. More to come on that in future segments.