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How to optimize the Bank of America Premium Rewards card with Preferred Rewards membership

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The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card on its own offers a decent amount of travel rewards for its cardholders compared to other travel cards. There’s a low annual fee, a reasonable sign-up bonus and a middle-of-the-road rewards rate for each dollar spent on travel, dining or any other purchase. It may not be the most innovative rewards card on the market, but it offers enough incentive to make it a travel card worth serious consideration.

But what if you had another option to “supercharge” your rewards? To take them from mediocre to practically mind-blowing? Bank of America has made this possible by offering the Preferred Rewards membership program. Although the program is available by invitation only, for those who are able to take advantage of the program, it gives you the chance to take your Bank of America Premium Rewards card to an entirely new level.

If you receive an invitation to the Preferred Rewards program or are in the process of choosing a travel rewards credit card, you will definitely want to pay attention to how quickly the program can multiply your rewards.

Details of the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card

On its own, without being enrolled in the Preferred Rewards program, this card includes:

  • Rewards rate: Unlimited 2X points on travel and dining purchases, plus 1.5X points on everything else
  • Welcome offer: 50,000 online bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Annual fee: $95

The Bank of America Premium Rewards card is a travel rewards credit card offering a simplistic approach to earning points. Each point is worth 1 cent, whether you’re redeeming for travel or cash back rewards. Unlike other travel cards where you have higher redemption values in certain cases, this card offers equal redemption value. In addition to the 2X points on travel and dining purchases and 1.5X points on everything else, there are numerous other incentives included that are geared toward travelers.

Cardholders earn a $100 annual airline statement credit, which you can use toward seat upgrades, in-flight purchases, baggage fees or other airline incidentals. This alone offsets the $95 annual fee, plus it’s easy to take advantage of with one single trip. You also receive up to a $100 reimbursement (in the form of a statement credit) toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which is good every four years. The card’s lack of foreign transaction fees further sweetens the deal.

Cardholders enjoy multiple travel protection benefits, including concierge service, trip cancellation insurance, trip delay, baggage delay and lost luggage reimbursement, plus travel and emergency services. This is in addition to access to the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.

While all of these perks and benefits may be enough to rationalize the $95 annual fee, if you’re a Preferred Rewards member through Bank of America, your earning potential is even greater. It gives you a chance to earn up to 75 percent more in points versus the standard rewards rate.

It’s worth paying attention to the Preferred Rewards membership program, especially because the points redemption is so straightforward and simple with the Bank of America Premium Rewards card. No matter what you redeem your points for, the value is the same. Whether you use them for travel, cash back or gift cards, you will benefit from the flexibility. Plus, you never have to worry about your points expiring.

How to maximize the Bank of America Premium Rewards card with Preferred Rewards membership

The Preferred Rewards membership program is an invitation-only program. To qualify, Bank of America customers must hold a minimum three-month combined average daily balance of at least $20,000 across multiple qualifying accounts. This includes any Bank of America checking, savings, money market, CDs and IRA accounts. Merrill investment accounts and 529 college savings accounts also qualify.

However, as your average daily balances grow, so do your Preferred Rewards.

Increase your level to boost your rewards

The first step to maximize your Bank of America Premium Rewards is to qualify for the highest level of Preferred Rewards membership possible.

The Preferred Rewards membership has five levels: Gold, Platinum, Platinum Honors, Diamond and Diamond Honors. Gold level members earn a 25 percent boost in rewards points, Platinum level earns 50 percent and Platinum Honors, Diamond and Diamond Honors earn a whopping 75 percent boost. Here is how the tiered levels break down:

Gold

  • Required balance of $20,000 to $49,999 across accounts
  • 25 percent rewards bonus
  • New rewards rate of 2.5 points per dollar for travel and dining purchases and 1.875 points per dollar for all other purchases

 Platinum

  • Required balance of $50,000 to $99,999 across accounts
  • 50 percent rewards bonus
  • New rewards rate of 3 points per dollar for travel and dining purchases and 2.25 points per dollar for all other purchases

Platinum Honors

  • Required balance of $100,000 or greater across accounts
  • 75 percent rewards bonus
  • New rewards rate of 3.5 points per dollar for travel and dining purchases and 2.625 points per dollar for all other purchases

Diamond

  • Required balance of $1,000,000 or greater across accounts
  • 75 percent rewards bonus
  • Rewards rate of 3.5 points per dollar for travel and dining purchases and 2.625 points per dollar for all other purchases

Diamond Honors

  • Required balance of $10,000,000 or greater across accounts
  • 75 percent rewards bonus
  • Rewards rate of 3.5 points per dollar for travel and dining purchases and 2.625 points per dollar for all other purchases

You can see what a difference qualifying for the next tier can make in earning rewards. Bank of America reviews account balances on a monthly basis, which means you could qualify for the next level sooner than you realize. Once you reach a level, your level is locked in for a year—even if you drop below the minimum balance requirements.

The good news is, the boost applies to all points you earn, not just the travel and dining purchases. This means your non-bonus purchases will earn 1.875 to 2.62 points per dollar, which is still in line with many other cash back credit card offers.

Use for all travel purchases

This may seem like a given to use a travel card for all travel-related purchases, but what cardholders may not realize is how much is included under the “travel” umbrella. Travel purchases with this card include:

  • Car rentals
  • Recreational and motorhome vehicle rentals
  • Travel agency expenses
  • Tours
  • Tolls
  • Parking fees
  • Tourist attractions, including art museums, zoos and parks

Because this card has such a far-reaching definition of travel-related purchases, your best approach is to reach for this card first. Depending on your Preferred Rewards membership level, it’s possible for you to earn 2.5 to 3.5 points per dollar spent, which competes with other top-rated travel cards available.

Take advantage of the sign-up offer

If you are considering adding the Bank of America Premium Rewards card to your portfolio, you should take advantage of the sign-up bonus, if possible. While the sign-up bonus is not directly impacted by the Preferred Rewards membership program per se, it is worth trying to earn.

If you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening, you’re eligible for 50,000 bonus points. Since points are worth 1 cent each, this is a $500 value. This more than compensates for the $95 annual fee and would actually cover the cost of the credit card for up to five years.

Other rewards cards to consider

The Bank of America Premium Rewards card may not be the fit for every traveler, and there may be options that better suit your needs. For example, there are credit cards where you can earn a higher rewards rate by booking through a partner airline or hotel loyalty program, such as with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited®. With either of these cards, you earn 5X points on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel and 3X points for dining purchases.

If you find yourself spending more on dining rather than travel, you may be better suited with a more entertainment-focused card, like the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*. This card rewards you with unlimited 4 percent cash back on both dining and entertainment purchases and lets you redeem cash back in a variety of ways.

The bottom line

By itself, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card offers decent travel and dining rewards. The $95 annual fee is easily justified when you take advantage of the sign-up bonus or the $100 annual airline incidental credit, not to mention the numerous other travel protection benefits.

While the card’s standard rewards rate is average compared to other cards, enrolling in the invite-only Preferred Rewards program is almost guaranteed to instantly boost earnings and make this a top travel card consideration.

All information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.

Written by
Sara Coleman
Insurance Contributor
Sara Coleman is an insurance contributor at Bankrate. She has a couple of years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as The Simple Dollar, Reviews.com, Coverage.com and numerous other personal finance sites. She writes about insurance products such as auto, homeowners, renters and disability.
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