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Today’s feature: Bank of America’s BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards credit card review

March 23, 2013
Odd-category rewards credit card

Odd-category rewards credit card

From my experience with their consumer products, Bank of America is an unusual credit issuer. They have many fantastic credit cards without putting much effort in promoting them. The BankAmericard Cash Rewards and Travel Rewards are two examples. Recently, Bank of America rolled out another card in the BankAmericard series: BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards. I’ve never quite seen another card like that : instead of rewarding you for spending, it rewards you for paying balances. Let’s take a look at this hidden gem.

(Edited on 4/11/2013 to clarify the rewards requirements: paying off the statement balance will also qualify you for the rewards.)

Here’s the link to the product: https://www.bankofamerica.com/credit-cards/products/better-balance-rewards.go

First of all, this card bears the basic features of the BankAmericard family, which you can find in my review of the Cash Rewards card. I will focus more on the unique features, then quickly go over the common features, similar to what I did with the Travel Rewards card.

Also, check out this post for insider’s information on Bank of America’s credit cards.

Now on to the specifics!

I.  Reward type: non-classified

This card does not belong to any of the 3 regular types of rewards credit cards that I introduced in my intro to credit card rewards post. The reward structure goes like this:

“You will earn a $25 cash reward for each calendar quarter in which all of your monthly payments are received on or before the due date and are more than the minimum payment due. You must have a payment due in each of the monthly cycles of the calendar quarter to be eligible for the quarterly cash reward; a zero balance or a credit balance does not qualify. If the primary applicant for this card has at least one checking, savings or retirement account with Bank of America N.A., a Cash Management Account®, Merrill Edge® or any other account with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated or U.S. Trust, the card account will receive a customer bonus of $5 for each quarter you qualify, for a total of $30 per quarter.”

The reward is paid to you every calendar quarter in which you meet the conditions. The conditions involve two pieces. First, you need to have a non-zero balance at the statement closing date. Second, you need to either pay above the minimum or pay off the balance by the due date. And keep in mind that as long as you pay off the full statement balance by the due date you will not pay a penny in interest.

For each quarter in which you meet these simple conditions, Bank of America will pay you $25. If you also have a checking account, a savings accounts, or any of the aforementioned accounts with Bank of America, you’ll get another extra $5. If you want, you can put a small charge on your card, let it sit through the statement closing date, and pay it off by the due date, every month, and profit. If you have a BofA checking account, that’s $120 a year just for paying balances. It doesn’t get better than this.

You can read more about the reward program on the official Terms and Conditions.

II.  Card Benefits

All of the following features are common between this card and the Cash Rewards card:

1. Purchase Replacement

2. Purchase Guard

3. Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver

4. Emergency Travel Assistance

5. Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance

III. Interest rate and fees

APR: 11.99% – 21.99%

Annual fee: $0

Balance transfer fee: 3%

IV. Additional benefits 

1. Overdraft Protection

2. ShopSafe

3. EMV Chip Technology

4. Tap&Pay

5. Mobile Banking and Text Banking

V. Introductory offer

0% APR for 12 billing cycles.

VI. Conclusion

Incredibly lucrative credit card

Incredibly lucrative credit card

In short, the Bank of America’s BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards is a one-of-a-kind credit card that rewards you for paying balance, which you should anyway. You just need to make sure you have some balance on the card when the statement closes. If you set up automatic payments to pay at least the minimum due before the due date, the card offers a $100/$120 annual rewards risk-free, with barely any purchases each month. If you’re looking for a free $120 each year, try this card.

Hope you’re having a great first weekend of spring!

Best,

Richard (Hiep Tran)

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14 Comments
  1. tony ho permalink

    hey hiep, i recently took your advice for applying to BoA for a credit card since Wells Fargo hasn’t graduated my secured card yet. i applied for the BoA Better Balance Rewards card and got approved for $700 CL. =)
    thanks for your advice!

    • Awesome!!! Congratulations!!! I’m so glad you pulled the trigger!
      Make sure you follow the rules I posted here to pocket $100 a year. It is always helpful to have a no-annual fee card when you are building credit, since it’s a card that you can keep forever, for free!
      Thanks for following up. Keep us posted with your financial journey!

  2. Ryan permalink

    One of the BoA assistants suggested me to get this card and I got approved for $2500.
    I’ve never had a credit card before but to build and raise my credit score up, I thought it’s good to have one.

    You’ve mentioned that I have to have some kind of balance to get my rewards for this card.
    Does this mean that I can’t pay off my entire balance each month? (to receive my rewards.)

    BoA assistant that helped me on this told me that as long as I pay off my entire bill on time,
    I would get my cash reward credited to my account.

    Hm…I’m confused a little now…

  3. Hi Ryan,

    Congratulations on getting your first card! As I explained in this post: http://hiepsfinance.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/do-you-need-to-carry-a-balance-to-build-credit/ , there is a difference between the statement closing date and the payment due date. One of the conditions for getting the rewards from this card is to have a non-zero balance at the statement closing date. However, you should pay off your balance by the payment due date so that you will not have to pay interest.

    Your BofA was correct. Paying off the statement balance will qualify for the rewards.

  4. G. S.. permalink

    I did a product change for this card and I’m going through the first-quarter-of-trying-to-figure-this-out period. I understand you cannot have a zero balance at the end of the billing cycle, but what about a $0 payment due? I keep a small balance on this card but it’s so small that my amount due is zero and it hit me that this may be hurting me…can you have a $0 payment due and pay, say, 1 cent? 1 cent is more than 0 which technically should be within BoA’s guidelines…sorry if I missed this in the discussion somewhere…

    • Good question! I do remember that Bank of America cancels statement balances that are smaller than a dollar so the statement balance would be zero. The minimum payment due would obviously be zero as well. The Terms & Conditions says:

      “You must have a payment due in each of the monthly cycles of the calendar quarter to be eligible for the Quarterly Cash Reward; a zero balance or a credit balance does not qualify.”

      So it does sound like you won’t qualify for the current quarter. If you want to be 100% certain, you can give BofA a call.

      • G. S.. permalink

        Thanks for your reply! There it is, the blurb I probably read and then disregarded: “You must have a payment due in each of the monthly cycles of the calendar quarter to be eligible for the Quarterly Cash Reward…” My balance wasn’t zero or under a dollar (and thus would’ve been reduced to zero as you point out), just the payment due…but I can fix this and forge forward…I’ll make sure I keep enough balance to have a minimum due, even if I incur a few pennies of interest. Thanks again!

  5. You’re welcome! Thank you for sharing your personal experience with this card. I’m honestly surprised that Bank of America would set 0 payment due for statement balances over 1 buck. Typically if the balance is small but greater than 1 the payment due will be the balance. In the future I would charge 5 dollars or so per month just to be safe. One trick that I know many people use is to use the card to pay recurring charges such as gym membership or Netflix subscription. Hope that helps!

    Best,
    Richard

    • Well, I should have known they had something up their sleeve. It can’t be TOO easy for us, you know…I already have some recurring charges set up on the card so I’ll go forward from here wiser and not pay down too much of the balance…take care.

    • For all that still may be reading this thread, an important bit of info for the Better balance Rewards card is that BoA has set a minimum interest fee of $1.50/month, so after doing the match, that brings your free money down to just $82/year, not $100. Still, not a bad deal. I keep about $100 on the card on the average which is not enough to incur any interest but then I noticed I was For all that still may be reading this thread, an important bit of info for the Better Balance Rewards card is that BoA has set a minimum interest fee of $1.50/month, so after doing the math, that brings your free money down to just $82/year, not $100. Still, not a bad deal. I keep about $100 balance on the card on the average which is not enough to incur any interest but then I noticed I was being charged the $1.50/month. FYI…being charged the $1.50/month. FYI…

  6. I had a copy-paste accident in the post above; HERE is what I meant (let’s see if I can get it right): For all that still may be reading this thread, an important bit of info for the Better Balance Rewards card is that BoA has set a minimum interest fee of $1.50/month, so after doing the math, that brings your free money down to just $82/year, not $100. Still, not a bad deal. I keep about $100 balance on the card on the average which is not enough to incur any interest but then I noticed I was being charged the $1.50/month. FYI…

  7. Hi GS,

    You do not have to pay a single penny in interest to be rewarded. All you need to do to be eligible is leave a balance at statement closing. As long as you pay off that balance during the grace period you will not be charged interest. You can refer to my previous on the distinction here: http://hiepsfinance.com/2013/06/02/why-is-your-credit-card-bill-so-huge-how-credit-card-interest-is-calculated-and-what-grace-period-means/

    • Hmmm…well, I’m not paying actual interest, it’s just a minimum interest FEE of $1.50 that they hit you with if you don’t have enough of a balance to incur any interest charges, and my “interest charged” states $0. I’ve been paranoid about paying off the balance in full because I had previously discovered that if you have a $0 balance due, that negates your eligibility for the cash back. OK, I’ll keep trying to tweak my timing and payments and charges to have a balance at statement closing but then pay it off in full during the grace period. It’s such a game.. :)

  8. If I’m not mistaken, most credit cards on the market have a minimum interest “fee” of the type you mentioned. And yet you don’t ever have to pay a penny in interest as I have pointed out in many posts on Hiep’s Finance ;) . And there’s no tweaking of timing needed either. Just pay the balance due in full before the deadline. You can easily do this by setting up an auto payment plan from the card or from the banking account.

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