Posted by William Charles on January 5, 2018

Published on January 5th, 2018 | by William Charles


Bank of America Free Museums For 2018 – Dates & List

Update 01/05/18: Reader Oliver asked me if they were running this for 2018. So here is an updated post.

Bank of America has a program called ‘Museums On Us‘ that gives it debit & credit cardholders access to free museums on the first full weekend of every month. You need to bring your debit/credit card along with photo ID to gain access and you only get access for the cardholder for free, no guests unfortunately (should be able to get around this by getting authorized user cards, but that would ruin somebody for Chase’s 5/24 rule).  You only get general admission to these institutions (e.g if their is a special event on then you won’t get free admission to that).

2018 Calendar


Participating Museums

You can view the full list of participating museums here. Note this still shows the 2017 year in the header.

Museums Of Note

In this section I’m going to add museums that readers recommend, along with why they recommend them. Feel free to add to this in the comments.

  • Metropolitan Museum, New York City
    • It has everything, Egyptian, Byzantine, Medieval, Renaissance periods are well represented; An Armory section that includes the armor of Henry VIII and of course lots and lots of paintings done by the masters.
  • Children’s Museum of Richmond, Virginia.
    • While it has the word Museum in the name, I wouldn’t guess it would be part of this program as it is more of a big play land for kids. A great value for sure! – Seth

Update: Rather than copying and pasting your comments, just read the comments below!

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Legion of Honor, de Young Museum in SF are obvious choices.

does the merrill card qualify for this?

Yes. Click the link.

The Henry Ford Museum is a world class museum located by Detroit and is worth a trip to Michigan! Yes they have cars, but there is so much more. Highlights include the presidential car section (including the JFK car), the chair Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in, and by far one of the coolest things there, they let you walk in the Rosa Parks bus!

The Menil collection, Houston, TX has free admission all the time. And they list it?

The crown jewel on this list is the Metropolitan Museum on 5th Avenue in NYC. It has everything, Egyptian, Byzantine, Medieval, Renaissance periods are well represented; An Armory section that includes the armor of Henry VIII and of course lots and lots of paintings done by the masters.

The Metropolitan Museum – The Cloisters, is also worth seeing for those interested in Medieval life and art.

The Art Institute of Chicago is a world-class museum of art, with lots of works by the Impressionists among others.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is amazing. It features paintings from different time periods, including a large selection of Impressionists. It also has a good Armory section. And let’s not forget the front steps of this Museum was made famous by the Rocky movies as Stalone climbed those steps up and down to keep fit.

Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh is surprisingly good.

Newseum is Washington DC is an interactive museum and it’s good for kids.

Children’s Museum of Richmond and Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth are also great places to take the kids to. Everything is meant to be touched and played with.

Also note that most NYC museums including the Met are by donation where you pay what you want even if they suggest a price. When I was in school in poor, I paid a few dollars and now that I have a good job, I pay more.

the new york met is a donation ‘pay what you like’ museum all times of the year…. you can pay $1 or $100 for entry. don’t think bofa’s offer is really a big deal here..

Yeah, but you can go in guilt free because BOA is picking up the tab.

Does BOA pay the Met based on each visit, or is it based on a lump sum donation BoA gave to Met?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has a new admission policy that goes into effect on March 1, 2018. Those who do not live in New York State will have to pay a mandatory admission fee of $25. See the NY times article available at

Chicago has a few good ones.
Art Institute

The Met in New York is a must-see but, technically, anyone can visit at any time and at any price since their $25 admission is technically a suggested donation. It’s just that with the B of A card on Museums on Us weekend, you won’t feel embarassed by not paying!

Any idea how the museums are compensated by Bank of America for each cardholder, or is it a lump payment to accept unlimited number of cardholders on these 1st full weekends of the months?

I’m not sure if it’s even that direct. At several of the participating museums I’ve gone to, I’ve seen BofA listed as a sponsoring patron of something else at the museum.

I’ve not seen museums generally mark down that I visited (they often, but not all of them, just look at my card and give me an entry sticker and then move on the next visitor), so I’d say at least at a lot of museums I don’t see how it could by on a cardholder basis anyway. (And they don’t usually down the card information, they just look at the card and verify it’s a BofA card. The bigger the BofA logo on your card — ie, generic BofA cards may have more “obvious” logos than partner cards which may have more “buried” logos.)

But keep in mind that the exact arrangement with BofA may vary from museum to museum.

Ha, I replied earlier and I never felt embarrassed. I always gave a few dollars when I couldn’t afford much. The Arts are for everyone. You should only feel embarrassed when you’re finally making good money and still don’t give.

The founders of the Met wanted to make the admission to anyone so they could bring art to the public. The $25 “ticket” is not clearly marked as a “donation” – many foreign visitors have no clue the Met admission is based on donation, just like the museums in London.

Totally agree with Matt P on this.

LACMA in LA is also an obvious choice.

Newseum in DC, most certainly.

In my opinion, there’s no contest: Chicago is the clear winner here with both the Art Institute and the Shedd Aquarium.

The Art Institute is amazing — home to masterpieces of the massive pointilist variety (Seurrat’s Sunday Afternoon), to great works of French Impressionism, to Hopper’s Nighthawks and Wood’s American Gothic. Of particular note is the Modern Wing, designed by Renzo Piano.

The Shedd Aquarium is also absolutely lovely — enough for me to go twice! The Stingray Touch exhibit (May thru October) is great (feel those denticles!). And the big exhibits are excellent: the 90,000 gallon cylindrical Carribean Reef tank, replete with a green sea turtle; the Wild Reef exhibit replete with sharks; the Oceanarium full of large (dolphins, belugas) and small (sea otters, penguins) marine mammals. One of the coolest things is the Australian lungfish Granddad: he’s been at Shedd since 1933!

Agree these are great institutions. FYI just found out Shedd is only free on Sundays this year. Art Institute tried to muscle me for a small donation.

I wonder how often the included museums change. The Whitney participated as recently as late 2015, but alas I see it’s no longer on the list. Too bad as that was a great value for BoA cardholders.

The Huntington Library and Gardens was once in this program and on the designated free day it was a zoo. Since then they’ve doubled the admission price and severely restricted tickets on the one free general public day they do offer, in order to maintain its exclusivity.

Thanks for posting this again! This benefit just became more valuable, as the Met in New York is now officially charging $25 for anyone who isn’t a resident of New York state. It’s no longer a voluntary donation. Anyway, thanks for the reminder, I always forget this benefit!

Confused. How would a Bank of America card affect Chase 5/24 eligibility?

because Chase counts all the cards you’ve opened in the last 24 months. Not just the ones you’ve opened with Chase.

Oh, dang. So that’s what “Chase 5/24” means.

Thanks for clarifying!

Charles DOC Fan

I know what DoC means, but I think this could use some clarification. – If the BOA card has been open for less than 2 years, it will count against any authorized users for 5/24. If the BOA card has been open for over 2 years it will not count. I.e. it goes by when the original cardholder got the card, not when the Authorized user gets a card.

It sucks that your kids can’t get in with you, though. Maybe DOC can shame them a little?

I was looking into getting authorized user cards for my kids. I haven’t found any age limitations or a way to do it online.

My 2 and 5 year olds both have BankAmericards (I added them as authorized users online). We use them at Childrens Museum of Richmond several times each year for this promotion with no hassle at all.

With my impending Southwest companion passes, it may be worth taking a weekend trip or two this year to take advantage of these free museums!

So do they each swipe their card at the admissions desk?

Does anyone know if museums confirm if an account is active? My wife and I have cancelled BofA cards that I kept in case we might want to go to a museum with this promotion. Do they just ask to see a card or do they run it through a system for verification?

They do not. You just show them the card with the logo.

Museums on Us isn’t like Priority Pass: the museum staff shouldn’t swipe your card unless you’re actually volunteering to donate $.

They specifically look for the “Bank of America” or “Merrill Lynch” logos (if at all); they may not even look at the name or the expiration date.

I’ve had some museums swipe them, some museums look at everyone’s names and ask for ID, and some museums just check the BofA logo on the card. As usual, it seems to depend on how engaged the cashier is.

Can someone clarify: ANY BoA-issued CC qualifies yes? Even the co0brand ones (specifically in my case: Alaska card)?

Yes. My mom used her Amtrak card and the BoA logo is on the back, which is sufficient.

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