Posted by Chuck on March 27, 2018
Credit Cards

Published on March 27th, 2018 | by Chuck

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Bank of America Launches Relationship Rewards Program for Business Checking and Credit Card Customers

Originally posted in December 2017. Updated and reposted on March 27, 2018 since it’s now live.

Press Release

Business Relationship Rewards

Direct Link

Bank of America now offers a relationship rewards program for business customers called Business Advantage Relationships Rewards. It’s very similar to their relationship bonus for personal checking and credit card customers called Preferred Rewards.

Three Relationship Tiers

As with the personal Preferred Rewards program, the business rewards program also maintains three tiers:

  • Platinum Honors for those who have $100k+ with BofA
  • Platinum for those who have $50k-$99k with BofA
  • Gold for those who have $20k-$49k with BofA

Business checking and savings balances count toward status, as well as investments held with Merrill Edge or Merrill Lynch. The terms indicate that only business investments count toward the tier levels. That being the case, it’ll be difficult for most of us to qualify for meaningful status unless you have a business with high cash reserves or if you shift your investments over to business accounts.

Your tier level is calculated based on a three-month average of your balances, same as with the personal rewards program.

List of Program Benefits

Here’s the full list of benefits:

  • Rewards bonus on eligible credit cards: 75% for Platinum Honor, 50% for Platinum, and 25% for Gold
  • No fees on select everyday banking services, such as  inbound wires, stop payments and more
  • Cash rewards on BofA Merchant Services processing – higher relationship tiers will get overall better rates on payment processing fees
  • Interest rate booster on your business savings account (this will probably be an opportunity to earn like .5% APY instead of .03% APY, nothing to get too excited about)
  • Interest rate discount on certain business loans: .75%/.50%/.25% discount on credit line, term loan, and secured lending; .5%/.35%/.25% discount on auto and commercial real estate loans
  • Monthly discount on full service payroll fee ($20/$15/$10)
  • No fee on ATM transactions anywhere (Platinum Honors is unlimited, Platinum is limited to 12, Gold does not have this benefit)
  • No fee trades (100 per month with Honors, 30 per month with Platinum, Gold does not have this benefit)

Credit Card Bonus

The most interesting thing for us to dissect is the credit card earn rates. Relationship Honors clients get a 75% booster on the credit card rewards, Platinum clients get a 50% booster, and Gold clients get a 25% booster.

The Bank of America site lists clearly 3 business cards that will earn relationship bonus rewards and numerous cards that won’t.

Works:

Does not work:

  • Non-rewards credit cards (Bank of America Platinum and Platinum Plus for Business cards)
  • Personal or consumer purpose credit cards
  • Business Advantage Cash Rewards 123 w/50% Bonus
  • Business Advantage Travel Rewards w/50% Bonus
  • Merrill Lynch branded Merrill Rewards for Business Card
  • Alaska Airlines®
  • Asiana Airlines®
  • Spirit Airlines®
  • Business Banking, Global Commercial Banking, Global Corporate Investment Banking or Institutional clients are not eligible to participate in the program

Credit Card Opportunities

We’re familiar with two of the three above-mentioned small business credit card

  • Business Advantage Travel Rewards
    • Earns 1.5x everywhere; with Honors status, card will earn 2.62% everywhere (same as personal Travel Rewards card)
    • Earns 3x with BofA travel bookings which are powered through Orbitz; with Honors status, card will earn 5.25% on these travel purchases
  • Business Advantage Cash Rewards (it’s noted in the fine print that the business Cash Rewards will only get a bonus .25%-.75% on the 1% base rate, not on the bonus; this is different than how the personal Cash Rewards gets bonused)
    • 1% everywhere; with Honors status, card will earn 1.75% everywhere
    • 2% at restaurants; with Honors status, card will earn 2.75%
    • 3% on gas stations and office supply stores; with Honors status, card will earn 3.75%

There’s some overlap on these earning rates with the consumer Preferred Rewards program with cards like the Premium Rewards card which earns up to 2.62% cash back everywhere and 3.5% cash back on travel/dining purchases.

Frequentmiler guesses that we’ll be seeing a new Bank of America business card coming soon. I feel the same. It might not be a real premium product like CSR or Amex Platinum, likely something more similar to the BofA Premium Rewards with some tweaks toward business users (e.g. 2x base points on advertising or gas or office supply stores instead of the 2x base points on restaurants).

Final Thoughts

I think most of us aren’t running businesses which have an average of $100k+ in funds in their checking, savings, and investment accounts, thus few readers will benefit from the program. Someone who does run a business with large cash reserves might consider Bank of America for these stated benefits.

It’s also possible that you can simply shift over your personal investments into a business investment account. It’s likely similar to a personal Merrill Edge account, just beware of any tax implications there, especially if your business is a separate corporate entity.

There are various advantages of the business credit cards over the personal, chiefly the fact they don’t report balances to personal credit repots which could help your credit score. It would be nice to have a 2.62% daily driver card without having to worry about it’s negative affect on credit utilization.



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Fine print in Overall Program Rules reads “your qualifying Merrill Edge® and/or Merrill Lynch® business investment accounts” so I don’t believe personal accounts will be used. Would be nice though.

Has anybody seen or heard anything about the merchant processing cash Rewards? I process with B of A and got a letter last week that they were raising our processing fees by 0.23% This program will likely determine whether or not I cancel their service

Does Merrill Edge have self-employed 401k accounts? That should count as a business investment account..

Well, they do. But seriously, recordkeeping/administration fees are messed up: 0.52%+$20+$3/participant?!? (That’s *over* the funds’ expenses.)

Oh my goodness. I hadn’t looked since I set up a Simple IRA years ago at Vanguard for something like $20 per account. All in.

I did my research, but cannot find the answer. I’m confused, who can elaborate a bit? How they calculate this “bonus offer” and how much it will be?
“75% for Platinum Honor, 50% for Platinum, and 25% for Gold” based on the amount in the account? every 3 month they will deposit some bonus?
Thanks

Just FYI for anyone doing MS with this. There are several reports on FT of people’s Merrill Edge accounts being shut down, followed by their cards. They’ve wisened up it seems.

Hi Rick B –

Much obliged for this head’s up, as I do moderate MS on my person (around $10k/month). Would you mind terribly posting a FT link to get me started researching this? I have difficulty finding stuff there if I don’t know where to start.

I just got off the phone after enrolling and BofA should be ashamed that they are even advertising a savings rate boost. It went from 0.02% to…wait for it… 0.04%. OMG, they doubled the APR!!! The CSR and I had a good laugh about it.

Also, be aware that the FEIN on the asset accounts has to match the FEIN on the credit card accounts. I have one corporation with cash reserves, but the rewards boost does not extend to my 2nd business’ card account.

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