Bankamericard® better balance rewards™ credit card

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

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.)

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.

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

Balance transfer fee: 3%

IV. Additional benefits

1. Overdraft Protection

3. EMV Chip Technology

5. Mobile Banking and Text Banking

V. Introductory offer

0% APR for 12 billing cycles.

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!

BoA Better Balance Rewards (BBR) Credit Card (Discontinued)

Bank of America Better Balance Rewards Credit Card (BBR) Review

2017.5.25 Update: It’s now discontinued. The previous application link is now redirected to the front page of credit cards. It seems what’s replacing it is this useless credit card.

2017.5.4 Update : Today there’s a rumor: reddit user Kilifi said he is working for BoA, and BoA is going to discontinue BBR in the end of May. Existing customers are not affected for now. HT: DoC. My guess is that, even though existing customers are not affected for now, it won’t last long. BBR will be mandatorily converted to other cards sooner or later, and I guest it’s probably 1

2 years. If so, I recommend not to apply for BBR any more. It’s only $240 if it lasts two more years, so we’d better apply for a card with better sign-up bonus instead.

  • This card no longer accepts new applications. If you are lucky to have this legacy credit card, you can still enjoy its original benefits.
  1. Earn $25 per quarter when you pay at least the minimum due every month during the quarter, and additional $5 per quarter if you have a Bank of America checking or saving account. Notice that the minimum due needs to be more than 0 to qualify. (We strongly suggest that you pay full statement balance every month because you don’t need to pay interest, and it’s good for your credit score)
  2. No annual fee.
  1. No sign-up bonus.
  2. No foreign transaction fee.
  1. We recommend you apply for this card after you have a credit history of at least one year.
  2. You can have at most 1 BoA credit card if you are an undergrad student, 2 if grad student. Other people don’t have such a restriction, but BoA may cancel your credit cards to 4 if you have too many.
  3. You can have multiple same credit card from BoA. You must wait at least 90 days to apply for the same credit card, otherwise the application will be automatically cancelled.
  4. [New] 2/3/4 Rule: BoA will only approve you for at most: 2 cards per rolling 2 months; 3 cards per rolling 12 months; and 4 cards per rolling 24 months. Because their IT system hasn’t been fully updated yet, you may not get declined because of this rule. Instead, you may get approved at first, and then the account will be closed because of “approved in error”.

The unique requirement to earn cash back on BoA Better Balance Rewards Card (BBR) makes the usage of this card also unique: use this card at least once per month regardless of the amount used, then pay at least minimum due each month after you get the statement. The most convenient / lazy way to get the reward is using monthly charge services like Amazon Allowance, plus setting up automatic payments properly. Note that you’d better let the balance more than $5 every month, because if the balance is too small, BoA might use “small balance adjustment” to clear the balance. In order to get the additional $5 per quarter, you could set up a BoA Saving Account, and put $300+ in it to get rid of its monthly fee. Finally, don’t forget to set up how you get the reward dollars online so that the rewards will go to your BoA Checking / Saving Account directly and won’t make your BBR balance negative. Then you are done, just sit there waiting for your rewards dollars. This card is a no-brainer credit card if you want to maximize your rewards.

It is still possible to product change to this card (though hard), you may want to try if you have a useless BoA card. Usually representatives will directly decline the product change request to BBR, but if senior manager is in, you might have a change. Here are some recent data points: 1,2,3,4。

BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards® Credit Card Review

BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards® Credit Card

  • Sign-up Bonus: None
  • Rewards: $25 per quarter when you pay more than the minimum on time each billing cycle
  • Intro APR: 12-billing-cycle 0% APR on balance transfers
  • Fees: 3% foreign transaction fee; $10 or 3% cash advance and balance transfer fees
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Needed: Very good/excellent

The BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards® Credit Card is a no-annual-fee cash back rewards credit card with a somewhat unusual rewards program that isn’t directly tied to spending. Rather than offer a flat cash back rate on purchases, BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards pays out a quarterly lump sum to cardholders who consistently make on-time, above-the-minimum payments on their accounts.

Used properly, this rewards program can be generous, but it isn’t ideal for all cardholders. BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards is also an attractive balance transfer candidate and boasts some additional benefits for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch deposit account holders.

For each quarter in which you pay more than your minimum payment on time each billing cycle, you get a $25 cash rewards bonus. This is good for up to $100 in rewards per year. To qualify, you must either carry a balance on your card or use your card at least once every statement cycle. However, since the interest charged on any carried balance partially or fully offsets the cash benefit, it’s best to simply use your card every statement cycle and lay it off in full.

Your quarterly cash bonus is automatically applied to your account as a statement credit within 30 days of the close of the quarter’s final statement period, unless you elect to deposit it directly into a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch deposit account.

Bank of America Deposit Account Bonus

If you have an open Bank of America deposit account or non-retirement, non-college savings Merrill Lynch investment account, you qualify for an additional $5 cash bonus per quarter – good for up to $20 per year. The bonus is applied to your account as a statement credit or, at your election, deposited into a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account of your choosing.

There is a 12-billing-cycle 0% APR promotion on balance transfers. There is no introductory purchase APR promotion.

There is no annual fee. The balance transfer and cash advance fees are the greater of $10 or 3% of the total transferred amount, while the foreign transaction fee is 3%. The late payment fee is $37, and the returned payment fee is $27.

Overdraft Protection for Bank of America Deposit Account Holders

If you have a Bank of America checking or savings account, you can opt to link it to your credit card account for overdraft protection purposes. When you attempt a transaction that would normally fail or result in a negative checking account balance, Bank of America automatically draws a cash advance from your credit card and applies it to the negative balance.

There is a $12 fee for each occurrence, and the advanced amount begins accruing interest immediately. However, you can minimize the cost by promptly paying off the advance.

This card requires very good to excellent credit. Any noteworthy blemishes are likely to disqualify your application.

  1. No Annual Fee. This card has no annual fee, which is great news for frugal cardholders who don’t want to pay for the privilege of building their credit.
  2. Rewards Structure Offers High Potential Rate of Return. For disciplined cardholders, BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards offers a high potential rate of return. To qualify for the $25 quarterly bonus, you simply need to spend enough each billing cycle to pay a bit more than the minimum payment. To ensure that Bank of America doesn’t waive your balance, you should spend at least $5 over the $25 minimum payment threshold each billing cycle. That translates to $30 in spending per month and $90 per quarter, implying a 27.8% rate of return (and 33.3% if you qualify for the quarterly $5 BofA/Merrill Lynch accountholder bonus).
  3. Nice Introductory Balance Transfer Promotion. This card comes with a 12-billing-cycle 0% APR balance transfer promotion. That’s great news for cardholders who wish to transfer high-interest balances from existing credit card accounts. Even better, the $25 quarterly bonus is likely sufficient to completely offset (and at least dramatically reduce) balance transfer costs for cardholders who pay off small to moderate-sized transfers (less than $3,333 for regular cardholders and $4,000 for BofA/Merrill Lynch accountholders) within 12 billing cycles.
  4. Low-Maintenance Rewards. This card’s rewards program is pretty low-maintenance. Every quarter, the balance is automatically applied to your account as a statement credit or deposited into a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account. No activation or redemption required – a big time-saver relative to cash back cards such as Chase Freedom.
  5. Additional Benefits for Deposit Account Customers. This card has some useful additional benefits for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch account holders, including the extra quarterly $5 bonus and overdraft protection. That’s an advantage over cards issued by companies that don’t have associated deposit accounts.
  1. Doesn’t Reward Heavy Spenders Well. The somewhat unusual structure of BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards means that cardholders who spend lightly enjoy the greatest benefits. Each quarter, you either get $25 no matter how big your balance is as long as you pay the minimum on time (or, for BofA/Merrill customers, $30) or nothing. Those who get the highest rate of return on its quarterly bonus, spend just enough to clear the minimum payment threshold (by at least $5, to avoid a potential balance waiver). If you don’t have an existing balance, we’re talking about spending perhaps $30 per month, $90 per quarter, and $360 per year. Most consumers spend far more than that on their primary credit cards. If you’re seeking a single cash back credit card that rewards you for spending as much as you wish, look for one with a flat, unlimited rewards rate – such as Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® (note: this offer is no longer available) or Citi Double Cash Card (2%). For instance, if you spend at least $6,000 per year, which is not a stretch if you have a healthy household budget and use it as your primary day-to-day credit card, you can come out ahead with Double Cash.
  2. No Sign-up Bonus. This card doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. Most competing cash back credit cards do offer bonuses to new cardholders. For annual-fee-free competitors, it’s typically in the realm of $100 to $200, often in exchange for just $500 to $1,000 in spending.
  3. Charges Penalty Interest. BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards charges penalty interest at a rate well in excess of its regular purchase APR. If you occasionally miss payments through no fault of your own, this can really add to your total card ownership costs. Consider a cash rewards card that doesn’t charge penalty interest, such as Discover it.
  4. Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card has a foreign transaction fee, which is a disadvantage for cardholders who regularly travel outside the U.S. If you’re a world traveler, consider an alternative that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, such as Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

The BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards® Credit Card isn’t a typical cash back rewards credit card, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful for certain types of consumers. For instance, if you’re struggling with an existing high-interest credit card balance, this card offers a helpful one-two punch: a 12-billing-cycle 0% APR balance transfer promotion and an annual cash rewards bonus of up to $120, a combination that can reduce or completely eliminate the cost of small to moderate-sized balance transfers.

To be sure, Better Balance Rewards probably isn’t the best card for everyday spending – but then again, not every credit card is.

BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards® Credit Card

The BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards® Credit Card is an unusual credit card that’s ideal for light spenders who can commit to making small transactions at least once per billing cycle, and for new cardholders looking to transfer and pay down small to moderate-sized balances within the introductory balance transfer promotion window. Due to the annual rewards cap, it’s not an ideal card for heavy spenders, and arguably isn’t an ideal primary credit card under any circumstances.

This card’s high potential rate of return for light spenders, introductory balance transfer promotion, benefits for existing Bank of America and Merrill Lynch customers, simple rewards, and lack of an annual fee are all benefits. Rewards that discourage heavy use, an annual rewards cap, the lack of sign-up bonus, the 3% foreign transaction fee, and penalty interest all hurt it. Overall, it’s a great balance transfer candidate or solid secondary rewards credit card.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

BankAmericard ® Better Balance Rewards™ Credit Card

Only Takes 2 Minutes

Instant & Secure Online Approval Process

• Gain $25 cash back each quarter and up to $100 cash back annually by paying over the monthly minimum usable for balance payments

• Gain $5 cash back bonus every 90 days by owning Bank of America® checking or savings account

• Cash back is automatically credited to your card balance

• Additional safety on online shopping

• 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 billing cycles

• $0 Liability Guarantee

• Customer bonus offer

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When you enroll in the Preferred Rewards program, you can get a 25% or more rewards bonus on all eligible Bank of AmericaВ® credit cards.

Plus, as a Preferred Rewards client, you’ll get even more benefits and rewards with your every day banking. As your qualifying Bank of America® deposit accounts and/or Merrill Edge® and Merrill Lynch® investment balances grow, so do your benefits.

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Choosing a credit card can be overwhelming. We’ve compiled some important considerations to help you pick the best credit card for you.

Get the most out of your credit card. Find out how you can take advantage of all the opportunities that may be available to you as a cardholder.

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