BankAmericard Privileges Visa Signature Card Review

Bankamericard Privileges credit card Please note: the BankAmericard Privileges Visa Signature card is no longer available and this offer is expired. The review below is for historical reference only. Click here to see a current listing of Bank of America cards.

Platinum, Premier, Preferred, Prestige… and now Privileges (as if we didn’t need another “P” credit card in this world). The past few times I’ve logged into my Bank of America account they’ve been trying to peddle me their new BankAmericard Privileges credit card.

This card isn’t mentioned anywhere in the credit card section on the BofA website. Apparently it’s a more targeted offer geared towards those who keep $50k or more at BofA and/or Merrill Lynch (their subsidiary).

When I clicked on the credit card offer not much info wasn’t given, so for the purpose of writing this review I called customer service…

The “Privilege” of Philippines Customer Service?

If the Privileges Visa Signature is a semi-premium card, the least I would expect is U.S. based call centers. After all, if the no annual fee Sapphire can offer prompt customer support, then shouldn’t the Privileges card, too?

Apparently not.

Upon calling the phone number listed on the BankAmericard Privileges promotion page (and after pressing many buttons) I was greeted by a woman in the Philippines. She wasn’t very helpful so I asked to be transferred to a U.S. call center, which she did. While the U.S. support rep was nice, unfortunately he didn’t have much additional info, other than what I could see on the page for this credit card deal.

The Pros & Cons

PRO – Earn “up to” a 1.5% rebate on regular purchases

When points are redeemed for cash back which is directly deposited to your BofA or Merrill Lynch account, you get 50% more cash.

CON – It uses the WorldPoints program (if you’re grandfathered in)

For those who applied for this card in 2011 and early 2012, then you probably got stuck with the points-based version (instead of the cash back version).

My biggest complaint is that this Privileges credit card uses WorldPoints. With these, you normally need to save up an awful lot to get full value – 25,000 points for the 1.0 cent redemption. It’s unclear whether this card’s minimum amount to get full point value is the same or not.

PRO – Bonus point categories

You do have the opportunity to earn more than 1x points through the BankAmericard Privileges categories which rotate each quarter.

There is 2% at grocery stores and 3% at gas stations. That may sound good, but the frustrating part is that there is an extremely low cap on the amount of spending that qualifies. Only the first $1,500 in spending for those categories combined will qualify for the bonus during a given quarter.

That averages out to a ceiling of only $500 per month for BOTH categories combined (Same as the lower-end BankAmericard Cash Rewards card). I don’t know about you, but with the crazy prices at my local supermarkets, I spent over $500 per month on groceries and that’s just for myself! For a family of four, this ceiling would be absurdly low.

CON: Annual Fee

You will have to cough up a $75 annual fee for this credit card if you don’t maintain a minimum balance of $50k in your BofA/Merrill deposit accounts (401(k) and 529 plans don’t count) .

PRO: Decent Signup Promotion

My offer was for $100 cash back. According to the “50% more” tagline, I guess that would equal $150 if i I deposited it into my BofA bank account.

This is OK but not great. For cards with similar annual fees, you can get a bonus up to 2 or 3x higher.

CON: Benefits are okay/average

This is a Visa Signature card, so you do get a few bells and whistles like purchase security and an extended warranty benefit. These are good for a no annual fee card but if you end up paying $75/year I would come to expect more, wouldn’t you? It’s disappointing to see that they do not waive foreign transaction fees (which the competing Chase Sapphire Preferred does).

Verdict?

I think the current Bank of America Privileges card is an improvement over the points based version. But at the end of the day, it’s a lackluster cash back card given that it will cost you $75 per year to have.

Not to mention, when I called customer services he started reading from a script about how the rewards program. I hate it when CSRs go into a spiel like that, telling you stuff you already know or don’t want to know. This bank certainly doesn’t make me feel “privileged” to say the least.

 
Comments
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Just got this card two weeks ago. I think that the original reviewer was a little rough on it. The BankAmericard Privileges Cash Rewards cards opened recently are on the same rewards program as the regular BankAmericard but with the 50% redemption bonus into a Merrill or Bank of America account you’ll earn 4.5% at gas stations, 3% at grocery stores and 1.5% everywhere else. Has chip technology which is becoming more common in US cards but still far from universal.

Sure the bonus categories have caps but buying $6000 worth of groceries earns you $180, $6000 in gas $270. Mix it up and you’re somewhere in between, and this doesn’t even include the non bonus category rewards. If you’re concerned with the cap you can use other cards in conjunction with this one to maximize what you earn. I have a Freedom and Discover so I use them exclusively for their 5% categories (sometimes gas).

Lots of people are going to find that they have $50k or more combined between Merrill and Bank of America added together.. This is who the card is marketed to and those balances always waive the fee. It seems to me it’s a nice perk that goes along with your relationship and platinum privileges customers should take advantage of it. Solid rewards program especially if that fee is getting waived.

As for the foreign transaction fees. I agree and wish as a premier card Bank of America would reconsider this in the future (though I don’t use credit cards out of the USA personally). The travel rewards version used to have no foreign transaction fees but it was discontinued. And as for Philippines customer service, yes a valid gripe though I’ve never found myself so needy as to be calling reps for advice on dining or hotels etc. Online I can do a far better job for myself picking things than some stranger.

Finally, to address a previous post… Mine is a Signature. My understanding is that at least a $5k limit is required for a card to be issued as a Visa Signature.

You know, I like cash, points are not translated to dollars that’s the bad side. give me cash, anyway I like to spend! That is simple as it should sound!

It looks like Bank of America has updated their offering.

The new BankAmericard Privileges with Travel Rewards card now offers a flat 2% rewards on all purchases while retaining the same $75 annual fee. My spending puts this in very close range to Capital One’s Venture Rewards card especially if you factor in the “10% customer points bonus on your total purchases when you have a qualifying Bank of America account.” Rewards on both cards can be used to offset any travel expense on your statement, so as long as you travel there are as good as cash back cards.

Presuming you have a qualifying Bank of America account this is a 2.2% rewards card with a $75 annual fee. If you spend more than about $650/month (a paltry $7,800 per year) and have a Bank of America checking account, the new BankAmericard Privileges with Travel Rewards card is a better deal than Venture Rewards.

Capital One Venture Rewards:
$101.08 annual rewards ($667*12*0.02-59)

BankAmericard Privileges with Travel Rewards:
$101.09 annual rewards ($667*12*0.022-75)

Spending $4000/month shows the difference clearly: $901 per year with Venture and $981 with Privileges.

In the end, I still prefer and use the Chase Sapphire since even at the low end of transfer partner redemption options you can still get 1.67 cents per point on Southwest Airlines for any and every domestic flight. If you fly internationally, transfer to United for 2 cents or even more. This makes the base 2x on travel and dining and 1x on all other purchases essentially 4x and 2x respectively. With an annual 7% points bonus you’re looking at quite a great deal. (I also don’t mind the direct line to customer support with no phone tree or foreign call canters.) In my case — based on my own spending habits which I’ve not taken the time to outline here — Sapphire Preferred earns me a nice 6% greater rewards than the Privileges card would. You’ll have to crunch your own numbers to see what works best for you.

If you don’t travel you won’t be able to really take advantage of the redemption options these cards have to offer, but if that were the case why you would be considering any one of the above three travel cards would remain a mystery to me. 🙂

Unfortunately they discontinued the 2% travel rewards version in 2012. Now we’re just left with this lackluster cash back version 🙁

I have had a BofA privileges card for about 9 mos. and my wife also has her own BofA privileges card and not only have I not gotten many of the extra 2X privileges of the card but despite speaking with several of their customer service (or lack thereof) employees I have been unable to get them to send me the email that my wife gets each quarter notifying her of the new categories and advising her how to register. Also they have never answered my question as to why I have to do something special periodically to enjoy the privileges of a card that is advertised as a privileges card.

Amit Deorukhkar

This is NOT a visa signature card (although the website and the image says so). This was bit strange to me, but it’s true as I just got mine. The benefits will surpass the annual fee if you use it wisely. In short, it’s a great card as I see, but I would look forward for a detailed review on this site. Thanks for your post.

Amit, This is actually in the Disclosure Summary in the fine print. To get Visa Signature Benefits Visa requires credit accounts to be $5,000 or greater only.

Therefore anyone who qualifies for less than $5,000 gets Visa Platinum Plus and not Visa Signature.

Of course the problem with this (and all over credit card) application processes, there is no easy way to apply and only accept the credit line if you only get Visa Signature benefits.