Here at Upgraded Points, there’s a ton of emphasis on transferable rewards, also known as flexible rewards points. Some of these examples include Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards points.
While these are incredibly useful for making those international first and business class trips possible, those points don’t make your entire vacation free. They just make the airfare and hotels free, for the most part.
The Bank of America Preferred Rewards program is unique in that it showcases a lot of potential for cash-back rewards strategy. Simply put, you can maximize your cash-back potential by combining your banking, credit cards, and even investment accounts with Bank of America.
Table of contents
- Membership Benefits
- How to Optimize Your Earnings with Preferred Rewards
- Final Thoughts
Table of Contents
- Membership Benefits
- How to Optimize Your Earnings with Preferred Rewards
- Final Thoughts
There are 3 main tiers of Preferred Rewards:
- Platinum Honors
Each of these has different benefits and qualification criteria, which you’ll find all the in-depth information below.
The short of it is: Bank of America rewards customers depending on their investment and deposit balances. To consider your balances, they sum up your qualifying Bank of America deposit accounts and/or Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment balances.
There are no fees to participate in the program, and if your balances cross a certain threshold, you’ll be automatically upgraded after the qualifying month. Status maintenance is contingent on your 3-month average combined balance in qualifying accounts.
Also, there’s a bit of fine print regarding tier status downgrades:
- You’ll maintain your Preferred Rewards tier status for 12 months following your enrollment. If after 12 months you no longer meet the checking account or balance requirement, you’ll have a 3-month grace period. If you haven’t met the checking account requirement after 3 months, you’ll lose your Preferred Rewards status. If you haven’t met the checking account or balance requirement after 3 months, depending on your balances, you’ll either be moved to a lower tier or lose your Preferred Rewards benefits. 
 – The Bank of America fine print regarding tier status downgrades can be found in its entirety here.
If you aren’t opening a new account with Bank of America and want to enroll in Preferred Rewards, you’ll need 2 things:
- An eligible Bank of America personal checking account
- 3-month average combined balances of $20,000 or more in qualifying Bank of America banking accounts and/or Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts.
Hot Tip: Small business accounts are not eligible to enroll in the Preferred Rewards program. Instead, there’s a similar program called the Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program.
As mentioned above, there are 3 distinct tiers of Preferred Rewards status. Here are the main benefits of Preferred Rewards, regardless of status:
Select Banking Services
Monthly maintenance fees waived on up to 4 eligible checking and 4 savings accounts from Bank of America. There are also no fees for ATM or debit card replacement including rush replacement, standard check orders, cashier’s checks, check image service, check copies, stop payments, and incoming domestic wire transfers.
Furthermore, you receive Overdraft Protection transfer fees waived from your linked savings accounts, secondary checking accounts, or from a Home Equity Line of Credit.
Lastly, there are no fees for incoming international wire transfers and a small safe deposit box.
Auto Loan Interest Rate Discount
If you finance or re-finance an automotive, you’ll eligible for this discount provided that the car is wholly or jointly in your name.
Mortgage Origination Fee Reduction
This is simply a reduction in fees/costs when you take out a mortgage with Bank of America.
Priority customer service through the Preferred Rewards Center, a dedicated team of specialists available to handle product and service needs.
Merrill Edge Online Investing
No commissions are charged for online stock (equity) and ETF trades. These are waived for individually or jointly owned personal investment accounts.
Free Transactions at Non-Bank of America ATMs
Non-Bank of America ATM fees in the U.S. are eligible for a refund for withdrawals, balance inquiries, and balance transfers.
Credit Card Rewards Bonuses
You’ll earn the bonus when you redeem your earnings to a checking account or at the time of purchase with a points-earning card.
Most Bank of America branded credit cards are eligible to receive the Preferred Rewards bonus. Some examples of eligible cards are: the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card, Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card, and the Bank of American Premium Rewards® credit card. For a list of ineligible cards, visit the Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards website here.
This is the most useful aspect of Preferred Rewards for points and travel enthusiasts.
Hot Tip: See our guide on the best travel rewards credit cards for more options to maximize your rewards, bonuses and benefits.
Rewards Savings Interest Rate Booster
This increases the interest rate of a Rewards Money Market Savings account.
Here’s a look at each of the tiers and benefits, starting with the highest, Platinum Honors.
Platinum Honors Tier
In order to qualify for Platinum Honors, you must have a 3-month average combined balance of $100,000 or above. Once you meet this criteria, you’ll receive fee-free banking services for personal checking and savings accounts. The exact breakdown of fee-free banking services is in the above section.
In addition, you’ll receive an interest rate discount on auto loans of 0.50%, or 50 basis points as well as a $600 reduction in mortgage origination fees on a new purchase or refinance. Platinum Honors members will receive priority-level client service.
If you use Merrill Edge for online investing, you’ll enjoy up to 100 fee-free stock and ETF trades per month. You will also have unlimited no-fee ATM transactions at non-Bank of America ATMs in the U.S. with a Bank of America debit/ATM card.
As a perk of Platinum Honors, you’ll also receive a rewards bonus of 75% on all eligible Bank of America credit cards. As it stands, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card earns 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
If you couple your credit card spending with a Platinum Honors account, you’ll receive a 75% bonus on all of this spending, which brings up your earnings to 3.5 points per $1 spent on travel and 2.625 points per $1 spend on all other purchases.
Lastly, you’ll receive a 20% interest rate booster on a Rewards Savings account. This makes a 1.00% interest rate catapult up to a 1.20% interest rate.
The qualification balance for the Platinum tier is $50,000 – $99,999 on a 3-month average for all combined, eligible accounts. As is the case with Platinum Honors, clients will receive no-fee services.
Platinum clients will receive a 0.35% interest rate discount on auto loans and a $400 reduction in mortgage origination fees.
You’ll also receive priority client service. Instead of receiving 100 fee-free stock and ETF trades with Platinum Honors, Platinum members will only receive 30 fee-free stock and ETF trades with Merrill Edge. You receive 1 no-fee transaction at non-Bank of America ATMs in the U.S. per statement cycle for a maximum of 12 per year.
Your credit card rewards bonus is 50%, bringing your earnings on the Bank of America Premium Rewards card to 3 points per $1 on travel and dining and 2.25 points per $1 on all other purchases.
You’ll receive a 10% interest rate booster on a Rewards Savings account. This makes a 1.00% interest rate result in a 1.10% interest rate.
The last and lowest tier of Preferred Rewards is Gold. Your fee-free banking services are included with all tiers of Preferred Rewards, including Gold. The main benefit of Platinum and Platinum Honors over Gold is that there are no fees for incoming international wire transfers and a small safe deposit box.
In order to qualify for Gold status, you need to have a balance between $20,000 and $49,999.
With Gold status, you’ll have to pay for these fees. Nonetheless, you’ll enjoy a 0.25% discount on auto loan interest rates. You’ll also receive a discount of $200 on mortgage origination fees. Also, you are still entitled to priority client service.
You do not get access to fee-free stock and ETF trades with Merrill Edge Online Investing. You are also not eligible for no-fee ATM transactions.
You’ll receive a 25% rewards bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards. If you have the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card, you’ll end up earning 2.5 points per dollar on travel and dining and 1.875 points per dollar on everything else.
Last, but not least, you’ll get a 5% interest rate booster on a Rewards Savings account. This will make a 1.00% interest rate increase to a 1.05% interest rate.
How to Optimize Your Earnings with Preferred Rewards
As discussed above, the main selling point is the bonus on credit card earnings. It can be summed up below:
|Spending Categories||No Preferred Rewards Status||Gold Preferred Rewards Status ($20,000-$49,999)||Platinum Rewards Status ($50,000-$99,999)||Platinum Honors Status ($100,000+)|
|Travel and Dining||2x points||2.5x points||3x points||3.5x points|
|All Other Spend||1.5x points||1.875x points||2.25x points||2.625x points|
With top-tier Platinum Honors status, you can earn up to 3.5% return on spend, which is great for those hungry for cash-back.
Here’s a summary of the benefits for quick reference:
|No-Fee Banking Services||Included||Included, plus waived fees for incoming international wire transfers and a small safe deposit box||Included, plus waived fees for incoming international wire transfers and a small safe deposit box|
|Interest rate discounts on auto loans||0.25%||0.35%||0.50%|
|Mortgage reduction in origination fee||$200||$400||$600|
|Fee-free stock and ETF trades||0||Up to 30 per month||Up to 100 per month|
|Fee-free ATM transactions at U.S. non-Bank of America ATMs||0||12 per year (1 per statement)||Unlimited|
|Credit card rewards bonus||25%||50%||75%|
|Rewards Savings Interest Rate Booster||5%||10%||20%|
All in all, using Bank of America Preferred Rewards is best for those who desire cash-back.
You can accelerate your earnings tremendously by combining your credit card and banking providers. Though it’s most worth it when you’re in the Platinum Honors tier, it could still be worth considering when at the lower tiers too.
You can only use these points for cash-back, travel purchases, and gift cards, but it’s a solid 1 cent per point for cash-back.
For more cash-back options, check out this guide on the best cash-back cards to have in your wallet.