Among the larger financial institutions, Bank of America may have the most understated banking benefits. For customers, the returns go beyond everyday spending on rewards credit cards. Bank of America Preferred Rewards ensures that their dedication to smart saving and investing earns them even more bonuses down the line.
With a comparatively low investment, Bank of America offers customers the opportunity to earn more interest on deposits, lower rates on loans and bonuses on their Bank of America credit cards. If your money isn’t helping you unlock better bonuses, it may be time to consider Bank of America Preferred Rewards. This guide will give you a look into the program and help you decide whether or not it makes sense for your lifestyle.
What is Bank of America Preferred Rewards?
Preferred Rewards is the invite-only incentive program of Bank of America and its investment arm, Merrill. Although there is no fee to join, customers must be invited into the program.
Qualifying accounts for Bank of America Preferred Rewards
To qualify, customers must own or co-own an active and eligible Bank of America checking account and hold a minimum three-month combined average daily balance of $20,000 or more. The cash can be held across several Bank of America account types, including:
- Bank of America Advantage Banking, savings, money market savings, CDs and IRAs
- Merrill investment accounts, including IRAs and the Cash Management Account
- Merrill 529 college savings accounts on your banking statement
- Revocable grantor trust accounts
Disqualified accounts for Bank of America Preferred Rewards
All accounts must be personal accounts—business accounts or commercial accounts do not qualify for the Preferred Rewards program. Other disqualified account types include:
- Irrevocable trust accounts
- Uniform Transfers to Minor Acts and Uniform Gifts to Minors Act accounts
- Employee benefit plans (including 401(k) accounts) and annuities managed by Bank of America or Merrill
What are the Bank of America Preferred Rewards tiers?
Based on your average balance across accounts on a rolling three-month average, there are three tiers in the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. Earning Gold status requires a minimum of $20,000, while higher tiers are unlocked as your balances grow.
|Preferred Rewards Gold||Preferred Rewards Platinum||Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors|
|Minimum three-month average balance||$20,000||$50,000||$100,000|
|Savings interest rate boost||5%||10%||20%|
|Credit card rewards bonus||25%||50%||75%|
|No-fee ATM transaction allowance||0||1 per statement cycle
12 per year
|Merrill Guided Investing fee discount||0.05%||0.10%||0.15%|
|Mortgage origination fee discount||$200||$400||$600|
|Home equity line of credit interest rate discount||0.125%||0.250%||0.375%|
|Auto loan interest rate discount||0.25%||0.35%||0.50%|
|Select banking services||No fees||No fees||No fees|
Gold tier benefits
Individuals and families who have at least $20,000 saved across Bank of America accounts qualify for Gold’s lowest tier. This level offers an entry point into the program, with the incentive to save even more over time.
The biggest bonus in this tier comes with qualifying Bank of America credit cards and the reduction in mortgage origination fees. Gold members get an additional 25 percent rewards bonus when spending on eligible cards, including the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, and Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card.
If you decide to purchase a new home or refinance your current mortgage, your Gold status will also help you save money as well. Low-tier members get a $200 reduction on the origination fee of a new purchase or refinance mortgage, which can help you reduce closing costs and save even more on your monthly home payment.
Other benefits from the Gold tier include a 5 percent interest rate booster on a Bank of America Advantage Savings account and a 0.05 percent program fee discount on a Merrill Guided Investing account. Those who hold an auto loan with Bank of America will get a 0.25 percent interest rate discount, while families with a home equity line of credit get a 0.125 percent interest rate discount.
Platinum tier benefits
Those who hold a three-month average of $50,000 or more across Bank of America accounts will qualify for the Platinum tier. Members don’t have to request an upgrade from the bank—once you hit the savings minimum, you will automatically qualify for an upgrade.
At the program’s middle tier, members get a 50 percent rewards bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards, as well as one no-fee transaction at non-Bank of America ATMs per month, for a total of 12 per year. The no-fee transaction means you will not be charged the Bank of America fee for withdrawing money, requesting a balance inquiry or making a balance transfer. The ATM bonus is good only at ATMs in the United States and U.S. territories, meaning you may still be charged fees for services at a non-network terminal outside the country.
This tier also sees increased bonuses and discounts for other accounts. Those with a Bank of America Advantage Savings account get a 10 percent interest rate booster, as well as additional discounts on Merrill Guided Investing program fees, home equity lines of credit interest rates and auto loan interest rates. Those who are planning on a new home purchase or current home refinance with Bank of America can get a $400 reduction in origination fees.
Platinum Honors tier benefits
At the top of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program is Platinum Honors. Customers are placed at this level by having a three-month average balance of $100,000 or more in their qualifying accounts.
With Platinum Honors, members get a 75 percent rewards bonus on their eligible Bank of America credit cards, along with unlimited no-fee transactions at non-Bank of America ATMs across the U.S. and in U.S. territories. You’ll still need to visit an international ATM partner when abroad to take advantage of no-fee transactions.
Balances in a Bank of America Advantage savings account will get a 20 percent interest rate booster while getting discounted interest rates on home equity lines of credit and auto loans. New purchase or home refinance mortgages by Bank of America will get a $600 reduction in origination fees, while Merrill Guided Investing program fees are discounted by 0.15 percent.
How to enroll in Bank of America Preferred Rewards
Based on your rolling three-month combined average daily balance, the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program is offered on an invite-only basis. That means new customers depositing a minimum of $20,000 across Bank of America accounts will have to wait at least three months to take advantage of the preferred rewards program.
Once qualified, account holders will be invited to join the free program through Online Banking. The online system will take a regular count of your three-month average daily balance, so you will be automatically upgraded to the next tier when you qualify. There’s also no need to worry about losing status due to market fluctuation or withdrawals—your benefits are good for one year, giving you plenty of time to stay qualified for the program.
The Bank of America Preferred Rewards program determines eligibility based on how much you hold over a rolling three-month period. If your average daily balance is at one of the three tier requirements, you will be invited to join at that status through Online Banking.
For example, your average daily balance is $20,000 in qualifying accounts in month one. In month two, market changes reduce the average daily balance to $15,000. By month three, strategy changes and additional deposits grow your average daily balance to $35,000. Over that three-month period, your average daily balance would be $23,333, which would qualify for an invitation to join with Gold status.
If by month four your average daily balance was $50,000, you wouldn’t immediately jump to Platinum status because your three-month average would be $33,333. If your average daily balance across accounts grew to $65,000 by month five, however, your three-month average would be $50,000, which would qualify you for an upgrade to Platinum status.
Bank of America credit cards in the Preferred Rewards program
There are seven Bank of America credit cards that earn bonuses from the Preferred Rewards program. Depending on your goals, the bonus multiplier from your rewards tier could turn into best-in-class bonuses every time you use your card.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: best for overall rewards
Even at the Gold tier, the 25 percent bonus on the 2X points on dining and travel with 1.5X points on everything else will help your rewards balance add up quickly. In addition to the flexible redemption options at the same rate (ranging from travel rewards to cash back), the card comes with a $100 annual airline incidental credit and up to a $100 fee reimbursement every four years for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, giving you incredible value for the $95 annual fee.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card: best for cash-back rewards
Combined with Preferred Rewards, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card gives you the most control on how you earn rewards. The 3 percent cash back in your category of choice (on the first $2,500 in combined choice category, grocery store and wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) would increase to between 3.75 percent and 5.25 percent. The 2 percent at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on the first $2,500 in combined choice category, grocery store and wholesale club quarterly purchases) would jump to between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent, depending on your status tier—all with no annual fee.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: best for easy-to-use travel rewards
Travel rewards can be difficult to understand, which is why the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is great for Preferred Rewards members who want best-in-class rewards with points that are easy to use. Status-holding account holders can earn between 1.87X and 2.625X points with every purchase, with no rewards limit. You can use those points for statement credits on travel purchases at around 1 cent per point.
Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard®: best for cruise rewards
If you enjoy spending time on Norwegian Cruise Line cruises, your Preferred Rewards status can help you earn even more points toward your next vacation. The 25 percent to 75 percent tier bonus is applied to the base earnings of one WorldPoint points per $1 you spend, accelerating your earnings toward upgrades, discounts, onboard credits and more.
Susan G. Komen® Cash Rewards Visa® credit card from Bank of America or World Wildlife Fund credit card: best for supporting charities
Bank of America’s two charity-supporting credit cards are also part of the Preferred Benefits program, allowing you to earn more rewards for yourself while supporting either Susan G. Komen or the World Wildlife Fund. Each earns the same rewards as the Bank of America Cash Rewards card, and Bank of America makes an annual donation to the associated organizations.
The bottom line
With a minimum three-month average daily balance of $20,000 in combined deposits—a sum many people have but may not realize—Bank of America Preferred Rewards offers a simple gateway toward long-term rewards. For the simple act of saving money and building wealth, account holders can unlock valuable bonuses across categories, leading to more savings and even more points. If your rewards strategy is primarily built around cash back, you will be hard-pressed to find a more beneficial program than Preferred Rewards.
The information about the World Wildlife Fund Credit Card and Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard® has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.