How to Earn a Relationship Bonus on Business Credit Card Rewards
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Sometimes it pays to open a credit card at a bank at which you hold checking or savings accounts. Though rare, you can find card relationship bonuses offered when you also hold certain consumer banking accounts at Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
Relationship bonuses are even rarer when it comes to business accounts. Some regional banks and credit unions offer minor credit card reward enhancements to customers who also open and hold certain amounts in business deposit accounts. But, with the exception of Bank of America, no other major credit card issuer offers relationship bonuses to business customers.
Launched in March 2018, Bank of America’s Business Advantage Relationship Rewards program in many ways mirrors the bank’s Preferred Rewards program for consumer accounts, which helps turn cards with average earnings — such as the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card or the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card — into something much more valuable.
Of course, Business Advantage Relationship Rewards covers much more than credit cards, including waived fees on certain banking services, rewards on merchant services processing, interest rate discounts on small business loans and discounted stock and ETF trades.
Bonuses Based on Deposit Size
Let’s focus on the credit card rewards enhancements and how those may impact what you’d earn on two of the bank’s small business cards, the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card and the Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card.
You can earn tiered relationship bonuses above and beyond the rewards offered on either of these credit cards based on the amount of money you have on deposit in your Bank of America business deposit and/or Merrill business investment accounts. Consumer accounts don’t qualify for the relationship bonus.
You’re eligible for a percentage-based bonus of base rewards points you earn once you have at least $20,000 in assets at the bank. Here’s how the tiers work:
- Gold status earns a 25% rewards bonus and requires combined balances of between $20,000 and $50,000.
- Platinum status earns a 50% rewards bonus and requires combined balances of between $50,000 to $100,000.
- Platinum Honors status earns a 75% rewards bonus and requires a combined balance of more than $100,000.
The rewards tier you qualify for will be based on your 3-month average combined balances in your qualifying accounts, so your status could change as you deposit and withdraw money from your accounts.
You’ll want to aim for Platinum Honors status to get the top relationship bonus. That’s obviously going to be a hard ask for many small business owners, especially considering any personal investment accounts you hold with the bank won’t count toward your status.
If you can reach Platinum Honors status, with the Business Advantage Travel Rewards card you’d earn an unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar spent on all non-bonus purchases plus a 75% bonus. Here’s what that looks like: 1.50 base points + a relationship bonus of 1.125 points = a total of 2.62 points per dolalr. That’s a solid, though not best-in-class, return.
What the Bonus Doesn’t Include
There’s one major caveat to point out here, though. Bank of America hands out the 25% to 75% bonuses based not on the total rewards you earn, but on the base awards, excluding specific category bonuses. Here’s the relevant passage from the program’s legal disclosure (emphasis added):
“All eligible card types receive the program bonus with each net purchase on the base earn only. That means a purchase that earns 100 base points will actually earn 125, 150, or 175 points, based on your tier when the purchase posts to your account less any credits, returns and adjustments. For example, a Gold tier member with a Business Advantage Travel Rewards credit card earns: 1.50 Base Points + a Relationship Rewards Bonus of .37 Points = a total of 1.87 points per $1 in net purchases. For Business Advantage Cash Rewards, the Relationship Rewards Bonus will be added as Bonus Cash Rewards to the Base Cash Rewards you earn with each $1 spent in net purchases. That means a member enrolled in Business Advantage Relationship Rewards in the Gold tier will actually get 3.25% on gas and office supplies, 2.25% on restaurants, and 1.25% on all other purchases.”
This means if you own the Business Advantage Travel Rewards card, which earns 3 points per dollar spent on travel purchases, with the relationship bonus you’d earn a total 4.125 points and not 5.25 points with Platinum Honors status because any points above the 1.5 base points don’t count toward the relationship bonus.
1.5 base points x 75% bonus = 2.62 + 1.5 bonus points = 4.12 points.
That said, let’s next look at the earning potential for each of the business cards.
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card
Welcome bonus: Earn a $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening.
Rewards: Earn 3% cash back on category of your choice; gas stations, office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services or business consulting services and 2% cash back on dining on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year; then 1% thereafter. Earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Redemption: Redeem as a statement credit, receive a check or have cash deposited into a Bank of America checking or savings account.
Annual fee: None
Here are the maximum rewards per dollar you could earn based on your relationship tier.
For a card with no annual fee, these bonuses don’t look too bad, although even the Platinum Honors return can be beat by other cash-back business cards. The Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card by Citi pays 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year (1% thereafter), for example, while you can earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year at gas stations and at restaurants with the Ink Business Cash Credit Card. Transfer your earnings to an account for a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points and you can boost that return to 4.2%, based on TPG’s latest valuations, when you transfer your rewards to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners.
Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard credit card
Welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening which can be redeemed for a $300 statement credit towards travel purchases.
Rewards: Earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel purchases (car, hotel, airline) booked through the Bank of America Travel Center. Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar spent on all other purchases.
Redemption: Points can be redeemed as a statement credit for travel purchases you make using the card. Qualifying travel purchases are very broad and include charges for airfare, hotels, car and RV rentals, cruises, taxis and limos, trains, ferries, busses, campgrounds, tourist attractions, art galleries, amusement parks, aquariums and boat rentals.
Benefits: There is no foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the US.
Annual fee: None
Here are the maximum points per dollar you could earn based on your relationship tier.
|Travel||3.375 points||3.75 points||4.125 points|
|Other Spend||1.875 points||2.25 points||2.62 points|
The return on travel spending is very competitive (1 point equals 1 cent), although you’ll have to book your travel through the Bank of America Travel Center to earn the bonus rate, and the portal may not always be the winner in a price comparison. With The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar when booking airfare and prepaid hotels through American Express Travel. While TPG values Membership Rewards points at 1.9 cents each, you’ll have to pay a $595 annual fee for that card (See Rates & Fees). For non-bonus spending, a card like the Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express, which pays 2x Membership Rewards points on all spending up to $50,000 annual (then 1x thereafter), may be a better bet.
If you have an existing relationship with Bank of America — or if you’re considering moving your business banking accounts elsewhere — these aren’t bad cards to own. Their rewards are clearly more competitive the more assets you’re able to keep at Bank of America, but even with a $20,000 balance, the gas rewards on the cash-back card and the travel rewards on the points are are worth taking a look at.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, please click here.
Updated on 2/10/20
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