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 The review below is for historical reference only.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?
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).
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.