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I’m Back in the Bank of America Game – But Probably Not How You Think

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Bank of America Strategy

My Unpopular Bank of America Strategy – The Three Cards I’m Pursuing

I’ve recently (and surprisingly) found myself eligible for new credit card welcome offers with Bank of America.  This was more unintentional than a planned strategy.  With Bank of America’s welcome offer rules, it’s not overly difficult to become eligible fairly quickly.  Bank of America has 3/12 and 7/12 rules for new credit card accounts.  Especially with a Bank of America bank account, one can easily fall under the 7/12 without much, or any, effort.  Consequently, I’ve formed a new Bank of America strategy, albeit one that not many (if any) may pursue.  Here it is!

Bank of America Strategy

#1.  Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard

As a longtime fan of Amtrak travel, I’ve held this no fee card several times.  But recently, BOA closed my account due to inactivity!  I should’ve known better, but I ended up taking this card for granted given my other priorities.  Indeed, I want to get back on the Amtrak train, figuratively and literally.  The card earns 2x points on Amtrak spend and 1x on everything else, but what does that mean?  Amtrak point value is impressive – I have reliably obtained 2.9 cents per point on all long-haul travel and 2.5 cents per point on Acela bookings.  Importantly, I can still find these valuations online currently.  Given I focus on long-haul sleeper car travel on Amtrak, I could easily deplete my pot of Amtrak points quickly.

Since I largely avoid paying for travel, the no fee Platinum Mastercard is a no-brainer for me.  Those who spend substantially may want to consider the Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard, which earns 3x on Amtrak, 2x on travel, and 1x spend everywhere else.  This $79 annual fee card comes with many other perks, like a companion coupon, an upgrade, a lounge pass, and the option to spend to help achieve elite status.  I may go after this one again as my #4 card with BOA.

Bank of America Strategy

#2.  Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

I’ve never held a Virgin Atlantic card, so I chalk some of my interest up to that curiosity.  The 65k point welcome offer is solid but has been better in the past; I can hold my nose with its $90 annual fee – for the first year, at least.  I’m also trying to be more open-minded about earning with foreign carriers and their credit cards.  I like the 1.5 points everywhere earning; since I won’t be paying for flights, the card’s 3x earning for Virgin Atlantic spend are inconsequential.  Likewise, the companion reward and tier point earning are nice but not huge to me.  So, why am I including this card, other than the 1.5 points everywhere earning?

A few more reasons.  I like Virgin Atlantic’s access to Delta awards, particularly domestically.  I can easily book one-way tickets from 12,500 miles.  The catch is flights are priced per segment, so sticking to nonstop flights is the key here.  I’m also a fan of their reasonable economy rates to the UK.  Mark has shared how to book Delta with Virgin Atlantic points, and Ryan S has described other great Virgin sweet spots.  Also, in a pinch, I can transfer to Hilton, if necessary, but the transfer rate is 2 Virgin: 3 Hilton.  Transfer to IHG is also an option, but at an even worse 1:1 ratio.  Nonetheless, I like this escape plan for Virgin points.

Bank of America Strategy

#3.  Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card

I also have never held an Alaska credit card – I’m long overdue.  One major reason is I’ve mostly considered the Alaska credit cards an exercise in buying miles.  Indeed, many have taken this process to the extreme in the past.  But now, I’m finally planning to pull the trigger on an Alaska card application.  Why?

The 40k welcome offer for the Alaska Business card currently comes with a $200 statement credit.  The buy miles exercise has become a miles and free money exercise!  Taking into account the $75 annual fee, that’s $125 in free money plus 40k miles with $2k spend in the first 90 days.  I’m also in a position where I might take advantage of Alaska’s companion fare in the foreseeable future.  Beyond the clear first year value, though, it’ll be a quick closure once year two begins.

What I’m NOT Pursuing

I’m not interested in any cards dealing with Bank of America’s program, including the Premium Rewards, Travel Rewards, or Cash Rewards cards.  Why?  Primarily because I have no interest in participating in BOA’s Preferred Rewards program.  Sure, these cards provide solid rewards without Preferred Rewards status, but I can do better with cards elsewhere.  Of course, many love Preferred Rewards and gain substantial rewards, but it’s not the optimal move for my situation.

Bank of America Strategy – Conclusion

That’s my near-term plan for pursuing Bank of America cards.  Of course, based on fluctuating welcome offers and other factors, the order may change.  Since I’ve unexpectedly pursued less welcome offers in the past year, I was pleasantly surprised when BOA became an option again!  This example was a nice reminder that my changing behavior, sometimes unintentional, can lead to new opportunities.  That’s why it’s wise to come up for air periodically in this hobby.  Have you obtained any new Bank of America cards recently?  Which ones and why?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence. An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their travel goals, Disney-related and otherwise.

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8 COMMENTS

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I have the Spirit, several Alaska and the Air France cards. Each offers me something different. AF keeps those miles from expiring and helps me with my XP points to maintain elite status. Spirit also keeps the points from expiring by using it for my monthly Neflix bill and that program is changing soon so it could add value. It also gives you better award pricing. The Alaska cards are good for companion pass and building miles. I agree that the BoFA reward cards aren’t that interesting.

    • DaninMCI,

      Thanks for chiming in! I’m not a Spirit flyer, so it’s good to know that card is helpful to some. Overall, BOA has a more interesting variety of partner cards than I’ve bothered to pursue in the past (beyond Amtrak). Better late for me than never!

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong. Doesn’t OZ have a Bofa credit card that offers a bonus counting for EQMs, as well as RDMs?

  3. Amtrak cards are some of the most underrated, for people who travel in Amtrak sleepers. You didn’t mention the 5% rebate on redeemed points, which takes the redemption value for sleeper travel up to 2.9 x 1.05 = 3.045 cents per point. I hold their World MasterCard because the value of the companion ticket covers the annual fee.

    I’m also considering the Virgin Atlantic, for the $25K spend sweet spot (already max out other better options like 50K BBP 2x and Hyatt 15K second free night + points).

    Thinking maybe the Air France too. 5K annual anniversary miles covers most of the annual fee, and it would eliminate Air France points expiration worries. Same use for domestic Delta redemptions as Virgin Atlantic.

    • EricF,

      Good catch about the 5% rebate! Just another reason to love the Amtrak cards. I totally get your thoughts on the Virgin Atlantic, also. And you won’t let me forget about the Air France Card! 🙂 While I’m not going after it now, you’ve made quite a good case for it lately.

  4. I had the Amtrak card about 10 years ago. Every so often they offer 40,000 point sign up bonus, so I’m on the sidelines for now. I’m still made at Amtrak for the devaluation about 4 – 5 years ago. You could cash in your points on the cheap for a roomette or bedroom. These days, you pay a steeper premium.

    The Alaska deal with $200 back is a good deal. When I had the card, I never used the Companion option. This card has been on my shortlist for a while. It’s a good way to top off my account, and I love their low redemption rates on Alaska and partners. #WinWin

    • dhammer53,

      Agreed – the previous iteration of Amtrak Guest Rewards, particularly the map and zones, were definitely more rewarding. Still, I’m a fan of the current program which provides great value for a long-haul sleeper car lover like me. Thanks for reading!

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