Posted by William Charles on August 10, 2015
Credit Cards

Published on August 10th, 2015 | by William Charles

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Bank of America WorldPoints: A Forgotten Program, Get Up To 1.76¢ Per Point

This is a guest post that was submitted by reader, Arneal P. If you have an interesting post that you’d like to publish then please get in touch, remember we pay $50 per published post for guest authors.

There’s a redheaded stepchild of the points world, and it’s not being beaten in the basement. It’s at Bank of America.

I’ve seen a lot of posts about the Fidelity Investments American Express credit card, but I haven’t seen much on the points program behind it. A credit card with a good earning structure is nothing unless the points backing it up are worth something (take a look at the PNC points program).

Pros & Cons

Cons

Bank of America has a proprietary rewards points program – WorldPoints. Here are the negatives:

  • It used to have a points transfer partner (Aeroplan). That ended 31 January 2013.
  • There’s no shopping portal. That ended March 2015.
  • The signup bonuses for WorldPoints cards are usually fairly small, so the main method of earning them is going to be through spend.
  • There are few bonus categories on the cards, and even when they exist, they’re not great.
  • It’s a “fixed value” (maximum value) program.
  • Points expire five years after they’re earned, regardless of what you do.
  • It’s operated by BoA, notorious for their horrible customer service
    • In my experience, this is exacerbated by the fact that the WorldPoints program is currently in its death throes, so few representatives know much about it

Pros

So with all of those negatives, one would think that there must be some powerful positives to offset. Kind of. This is an informative post, not one where I’m trying to sell anything. With that said, I think that the WorldPoints program is still pretty useful for me, and it may be useful for you. Here are the positives:

  • WorldPoints are comparatively easy to come by. A couple of the credit cards offer 2 or more points per dollar spent anywhere (e.g American Express Fidelity cards), so that gives you a lot of earning potential, especially if you’re into manufactured spending.
  • They offer a decent straight cash value (1 point equals one cent of cash). Combined with the above, that means that you could just use this as a regular cash back program.
  • The cards span three of the four major US payment networks (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express). That gives you added flexibility if your favorite merchant only accepts a certain type.
  • That maximum value can make points worth up to 1.88 cents each when redeemed for flights (I’ll show my math below). That’s pretty damn strong, in all honesty. Let’s put that in perspective. That’s 0.22 cents more than a Citi Prestige, and it’s not limited to just American Airlines/US Airways flights.

Similar Programs

All of that put together can make this an extremely powerful program if you know how to leverage it correctly. It also puts it in direct competition with few other programs. The one that comes most readily to mind is US Bank’s FlexPerks program. At the most basic level, both programs give a minimum of 1 cent per point in statement credit/deposits into an eligible account. Points from both expire five years after they’re earned. Both offer up to a $400* (* explained below) roundtrip flight in the contiguous 48 states for either 20 000 points (FlexPerks) or 25 000 (WorldPoints). The main differences are in the credit cards, not the points programs.

US Bank’s premium cards usually offer a generous 20 000 points after meeting minimum spend requirements. The most I’ve seen with any WorldPoints card is 20 000, but those offers are fairly targeted. The usual offer is 10 000 points after minimum spend. This means that if you’re purely interested in a signup bonus, FlexPerks is probably for you. If you manufacture spend, WorldPoints are probably better.

The FlexPerks cards offer interesting bonus categories, but the only one of note is charity. If you manufacture spend with Kiva or another charitable organization, FlexPerks is probably better. If, for whatever reason, you object to that strategy, then WorldPoints is probably better.

WorldPoints Cards

There are a few WorldPoints earning cards that have been discontinued but are still usable for those that already have them. Because they’re not available to the public and because getting information on them is difficult (because they’re not available to the public), I won’t be discussing them.

Personal Cards

  • Norwegian Cruise Line MasterCard (I don’t even)
    • 10 000 points after first purchase
    • “Earn double points on Norwegian purchases”
      • I’m guessing this means purchases with Norwegian Cruise Line, not purchases made in Norway, especially considering the foreign transaction fee
    • 1 point per $1 everywhere else
    • 3% foreign transaction fee
    • $0 annual fee
    • Eligible for Preferred Rewards
  • Unique Vacations Visa (a.k.a. Sandals Visa, a.k.a. Beaches Visa)
    • 10 000 points after first purchase
    • 2 points per $1 at Sandals or Beaches vacations and purchases made at resorts
    • $0 annual fee
    • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express
    • 5000 points after spending $500 in the first 60 days
    • 2 points per $1 everywhere
    • Minimum redemption is 5000 points
    • $0 annual fee
    • 1% foreign transaction fee
  • Fidelity Investment Rewards Visa
    • 5000 points after spend $500 within the first 60 days
    • 1.5 points per $1 for the first $15,000, then 2 points per $1 everywhere
    • $0 annual fee
    • 3% foreign transaction fee

Apparently it’s also possible to purchase WorldPoints in increments of 1000 by calling the WorldPoints Redemption Center, 1.800.433.5662. I’m not sure of the price, but this is a bank, so purchasing points is probably not a good value.

Business Cards

  • WorldPoints Rewards for Business Visa
    • No known public bonus offer
    • 2 points per $1 at gas stations, restaurants and office supply stores
    • 1 point per $1 elsewhere
    • $0 annual fee
    • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • WorldPoints Travel Rewards for Business Visa
    • 5000 points after first purchase
    • 3 points per $1 on Bank of America’s Travel Center
    • 1.5 points per $1 elsewhere
    • No points expiration
    • $0 annual fee
    • 0% foreign transaction fee
  • Business Preferred World MasterCard
    • Charge card
    • 10 000 points after first purchase
    • 2 points per $1 on airline and hotel purchases for the first 12 months, then 1 point per $1 everywhere
    • 10 000 anniversary points each year
    • No points expiration
    • $125 annual fee
      • Waived if you have a Business Advantage Checking or Business Analysis Checking account
    • 2% foreign transaction fee

Comparing Cards

The Travel Rewards for Business card is interesting in that it gets 3X on Bank of America’s Travel Center (powered by Orbitz). I haven’t tested the travel center extensively, but it seemed mostly comparable to searching and purchasing directly with the airline (sometimes cheaper by a few dollars, sometimes more expensive). There may be some value here, but I’m not going to comb through thousands of possible itineraries in the hopes of finding it.

The MasterCard is the only business card that seems worth getting. After taking the annual bonus into account, you’re paying at most a $25 annual fee. The downside is that the earning is really weak, probably too weak to justify even a $25 annual fee and a hard pull to get the card. The fee can be waived if you have a business checking account, but the monthly fee for the cheapest option is $29.95. That monthly fee can be waived by completing any of a number of requirements, but it all seems like a headache.

That leaves us with just the personal cards, the Fidelity Amex and the Fidelity Visa. The Amex seems like the obvious choice with its all-around higher earning rate of 2X and its access to Amex Sync offers. However, there’s one specific reason to get the Visa, and that’s because it’s a Visa (no, this isn’t about acceptance rate).

Transferring Points

I say “Transferring Points” instead of “Transferring WorldPoints” because there’s more to it than just that. You can easily transfer points between WorldPoints cards at any time instantly, and that should also extend the expiration of your points (transferred points are treated as earned at that time). In addition to transferring between WorldPoints accounts, you can also transfer between the Bank of America Travel Rewards to a WorldPoints card (it is unclear if you can transfer from WorldPoints to Travel Rewards). Here are the details of the Travel Rewards card.

  • BankAmericard Travel Rewards Visa
    • 10 000 points after spending $500 in the first 90 days
    • 3 points per $1 on Bank of America’s Travel Center
      • This is buried deep within the terms
    • 1.5 points per $1 elsewhere
    • Bank of America deposit account holders get a 10% bonus on base points
    • Points can be redeemed for statement credit on travel expenses $25 or more
    • No points expiration
    • 0% foreign transaction fee
    • $0 annual fee
    • Eligible for Preferred Rewards

Importantly, the Preferred Rewards feature can turn the Travel Rewards Visa into a 2.625% back card. The major catch is that you need at least $100 000 in eligible Bank of America accounts to get that bonus (there are lower bonuses for lower amounts). Unfortunately, I just don’t have that much, and even if I did, I’m not sure that I would want to put all of it with Bank of America (although their investment services look interesting).

Using WorldPoints

As stated above, you can redeem for cash/statement credit, with certain restrictions depending on the card. That’s boring and for boring people. The key to getting the most value out of your points is in redeeming them for flights.

Here’s what everyone else (everyone who knows about the flight option for WorldPoints) is going to tell you about flights.

  • Must be booked 21 days in advance
  • Will be in economy unless you choose a different redemption rate
  • Require a Saturday stay
  • Cannot include stopovers of 4 hours or more
  • Must be roundtrip on the same carrier
  • Will be the lowest fare available at the time of booking

Here’s the chart for prices (taken from Milenomics).

worldpoints1

I’m going to tell you something that few others on the Internet have noticed: different cards get different redemption rates for flights. Let me say that again for emphasis: having a MasterCard or Amex card gives you a different redemption rate for flights than a Visa.

I have no idea why this is. Maybe it has to do with the network processing fees.

Here’s the relevant page from the terms and conditions (also from Milenomics, who apparently missed this detail, but there are some comments to his post about it; full terms available here):

worldpoints2

In the bottom left, the description of flights in the continental U.S., it states that Visa cardholders can use 25 000 points for a maximum flight cost of $470. $470.00/25 000 points = $0.0188/1 point. That’s 0.22 cents higher than using Citi ThankYou points for an AA/US flight when you hold the Citi Prestige. The downside is that realistically, you won’t be able to max out that value every single time you book a flight, and these flights have a maximum value of $470. In addition, there’s a $30 booking fee for WorldPoints flights, bringing the value of each point down to $0.0176. There’s supposedly a $10 fee for booking over the phone (although this is apparently not currently enforced). But it could still be a really good option for a lot of people.

You may think you’re screwed if you don’t have $100,000 to deposit with Bank of America to get the bonus on the Travel Rewards card. The solution is that WorldPoints are transferrable between cards. Thus, even if you don’t have enough to get the Preferred Rewards bonus with the Travel Rewards card, you could still earn points on the Fidelity Amex and transfer them to a Fidleity Visa when it comes time to redeem.

Stray Observations

Interestingly, the description of the business cards say that if an airline ticket is more than the maximum ticket value allowed, you can charge the remainder to your card.

What if the airline ticket I want is more expensive that the maximum ticket value allowed?

You may charge the difference to your Business Preferred World MasterCard to earn additional points.

The language is the same except for the card name for the other two business cards.

I called the WorldPoints redemption center and asked if it were possible to pay the difference for a flight on a card (e.g. pay 25 000 WP and $5 for a $475 flight), and the agent said that wasn’t possible. I didn’t inquire about the business card specifically.

I also spoke with multiple WP agents, and they all told me that there was no fee for booking over the telephone, despite what the documents linked above may say. This is encouraging for anyone who prefers dealing with a live agent instead of the online interface, and they seemed fairly knowledgeable about the program. Just be sure to ask about booking a “Premium Air Reward”. The above documents also named this option “Basic Air Reward”, but none of the agents I spoke with knew what this was.

Conclusion

For any non-bonus spending, I believe that the WorldPoints program is one of the strongest out there. With platinum honors status and the Travel Rewards card, you could be getting up to 4.935% back when you redeem for flights (4.62% after factoring in the $30 booking fee) so long as you transfer your points to a Fidelity Visa (or another WP Visa Signature card). Even if you can’t afford to have $100 000+ with BoA/ML, you can still get up to 3.76% (3.52% after the fee) back by combining the Fidelity Amex with the Fidelity Visa.



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tly
tly

you mention “5 points per $1” in a few places where I think it should be “1.5 points per $1”?

Nick
Nick

I actually had no idea the Fidelity card was BOA or world points. I have an old BOA Accelerated Awards AMEX which gives me 1.25 WPs per $1 spend. I keep this card since its one of my oldest but the only spend i really ever put on it is from AMEX offers. Would i beable to product change this card to the fidelity card?

scott
scott

No.
maybe possible to transfer points between the two, but I am not sure.

scott
scott

Upon further review of the fat wallet link, it looks like you can transfer between the two

stvr
stvr

It seems like a lot of hypotheses here are unproven. Has OP attempted to spend ~$9,525 on the 2.2625% CB card to earn 25,000 points? And then has OP successfully redeemed the 25,000 points for a ticket worth $470?

In my experience, the $30 fee is not charged anymore, so OP does not seem to speaking from personal experience. Because the $30 fee is mentioned in this post oddly.

If all hypotheses are correct, then a Platinum Honors Travel Rewards + Fidelity Visa combo could earn 4.935% CB everywhere. But it seems unproven.

ALSO: you have to accept the cheapest ticket, Saturday night stay, and 21-day advance purchase. For some routes that means taking a 1-stop when non-stop is available.

Arneal P.
Arneal P.

OP here. I can confirm that it works. I’ve done tests with other people, and they’ve all confirmed that a sub $470 ticket can be purchased for 25 000 points plus a $30 booking fee so long as the ticket met the requirements. Yes, the booking fee showed up on the WorldPoints travel center page. No one actually made a ticket purchase because there wasn’t a need to at this time, but it specifically showed 25 000 WP + $30. Whether it would actually charge that is a completely separate question.

I’ve also confirmed this with at least four different WorldPoints Redemption Center phone agents, and it was those agents who said there is not currently a phone fee but that there is still a $30 booking fee.

Yeah, the math does work out to be a maximum of 4.935% CB everywhere. All of the parts were tested except for the very final confirmation of booking the ticket (but it still priced correctly in the matrix).

Regarding having to book a cheapest ticket and other details, yeah, that’s one of the drawbacks. According to the Milenomics post mentioned in the above piece, you can try playing with a more restrictive search (like filters for nonstop, particular airlines, etc.) to get a particular flight that you want. I’m not the best at that particular method, though, so I can’t really comment on that.

Nancy
Nancy

If I have Fidelity Amex, 100k+ and travel awards credit card in BoA, do I have to apply for Fidelity Visa credit card to be able to get premium awards? To me it does not worth a hard pull just for that credit card. If there is a workaround that would be awesome!

Arneal P.
Arneal P.

You can get premium air rewards by redeeming through the Fidelity Amex, but it’ll be capped at $400 for a domestic flight. You need to have a Visa Signature card to get the $470 value. Yeah, it is kind of a bummer that you need to have a hard pull just for that card, but if you were interested in any other FIA cards, like another Fidelity Amex, you could combine the inquiries.

JM
JM

Any idea if you can product change from the Fidelity Amex to Fidelity Visa for this purpose?

stvr
stvr

Oops. 2.625%.

Also, this is the PDF you want:

https://www.managerewardsonline.com/cms/published/root/rps/pdf/BACWP.pdf

Has the $30 fee bit removed.

Arneal P.
Arneal P.

That one is dated 2012. The one I linked to in the article, https://www.managerewardsonline.fiacardservices.com/cms/published/root/rps/pdf/FIAWPEnglish.PDF, is dated from 2013. It’s very possible that there’s a way to get the $30 fee removed, and if so, that would be great. I’m just reporting that in the tests that I conducted with other people, there was a $30 booking fee added on.

barrytuneup
barrytuneup

WorldPoints® Travel Rewards for Business Visa® Card This card has a straight 1.5% Cash back that can be used in conjunction with the small business checking acct for the 1K bonus. The cards mentioned are lots of work and no real value. But all the work OP did is much appreciated. And you get a 50.00 bonus with this card on first purchase, and no fee.!

HORACE
HORACE

Greatly appreciate the post and input and thanks to STVR for indicating that the $30 fee appears not to be charged anymore — that would make redemption all the better.

HOWEVER, even though pretty new to this thing, it seems to me that with the variety of redemption possibilities available to most in this game — straight points/miles redemption thru FF programs, AAdvantage redemption for 1.6 cents via Thank You points if you are a Citi Prestige cardholder, US Bank Flex Perks similar sort of redemption for air/hotel trips, I think I will take the thinking cap off and let nature take its course and just permit the 2 cents cash back to go passively into the safety of the FDIC insured retirement account — something that MileMnemonics alludes to, as well!

So much easier to do than thinking of yet another angle to manage in this game!

HORACE
HORACE

One of the other issues about World Points and Flex Perks is they are somewhat confusing in that as I understand it, Flex Perks arose out of the ashes of the NWA World Perks program whose credit card was issued by US Bank but in the aftermath of the merger with Delta lost the credit card deal to AMEX. Hence, World Perks transitioned to Flex Perks.

However, as you can now see, with that history lesson in mind, BofA’s World Points does not make that remembrance any easier, especially since the redemption values and ways to redeem World Points and Flex Perks seem very similar, indeed!

Henry

You forgot one personal card
There is the Interval International Visa Signature® card with WorldPoints® rewards
It has 5K Bonus Points when you spend $500 in the first 90 days. It earns 1 point per dollar, unlimited!
And the best part is you don’t even have to be a member of Interval International, The Quality Vacation Exchange Network®

Chucks
Chucks

“The downside is that realistically, you won’t be able to max out that value every single time you book a flight, and these flights have a maximum value of $470.”

That’s the kicker that makes it totally unfair to compare these to Citi TYPs. You’ll be able to beat TYPs on a full moon, Friday 13th, while running backwards into a double rainbow. A TYP is good for basically any AA/US flight at market prices, all the time, minimal hassle. Lots of other miles programs have magical unicorn sweetspots too of 5+ cents/mile, I don’t see what makes world points magical unicorn options appealing.

Audrey
Audrey

So a $400 ticket to South America would require 85k WP? The 25k is only for domestic flights? Is that also true of flexperks?

scott
scott

I think the Accelerated Reward Amex is still available also, I know for a fact it was as of Nov 2014.

https://www.managerewardsonline.bankofamerica.com/cms/draft/root/rps/pdf/BACWPAMEX.pdf

m
m

Are we abs sure that Travel Rewards Visa ( the one which earns 1.5 points everywhere & eligible for Preferred Rewards) us not actually earning worldpoints as its points currency, and that there is no back door for THIS card to count as the WP Visa needed? I say this because of the convoluted system & nobody realized a few years ago that the Fidelity amex actually earned 2x worldpoints rather than 2% straight forward cash back. Anybody?

Arneal P.
Arneal P.

Pretty sure. I worked with a number of different people, and they all reported that they weren’t able to use the Travel Rewards Visa for WorldPoints stuff.

m
m

Are we abs sure that Travel Rewards Visa ( the one which earns 1.5 points everywhere & eligible for Preferred Rewards) is not actually earning worldpoints as its points currency, and that there is no back door for THIS card to count as the WP Visa needed? I say this because of the convoluted system & nobody realized a few years ago that the Fidelity amex actually earned 2x worldpoints rather than 2% straight forward cash back. Anybody?

wickedtao
wickedtao

BofA has “transitioned” [me] to the Cash Rewards from Worldpoints about 2-3 weeks ago without any notice or documentation warning of this change.

Speaking with BofA agents, there is no card with BofA which uses the Worldpoints program anymore, it’s gone, kaput.

If anyone knows different please let me know.

I am unable to transfer Worldpoints from FIA Amex over to BofA now.

Person34
Person34

I have a boa travel rewards 2.625% and fidelity investment rewards visa and could not transfer points from boa to fidelity. There is a transfer option but when I check if card is eligible it says “There was a problem processing your request. Points cannot be transferred to this account.”

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[…] post was submitted by Arneal P, who also wrote a post on World Points that is well worth reading. He’ll be contributing more often on the site in the coming […]

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