On my mind (wife’s wallet edition)


You know I like to maximize rewards.  I routinely use the most rewarding card for each situation.  Restaurant?  Citi Prestige 5X.  Phone, Internet, TV?  Chase Ink Business Cash 5X.  Shopping via Apple Pay or Samsung Pay?  Altitude Reserve 3X.  You get the idea.

I used to label my wife’s cards so that should could do the same.  And that worked well… most of the time.  Inevitably there were purchases that didn’t fit the tidy label buckets.  There were also purchases that didn’t earn the expected category bonus (such as certain restaurants when paying with the Amex Gold Card).  She also travels often to Europe and she didn’t have a good “Everywhere Else” card with no foreign transaction fees.

Enter Bank of America’s Premium Rewards Card…

A while ago I transferred management of a chunk of my 401K plan over to Merrill Edge in order to earn a targeted new account bonus (You can find their standard offers here).  A Merrill Edge agent walked me through the steps via phone.  It turned out that moving the management of my funds was doable entirely online.  The result was that the same Vanguard funds that were previously shown under my Vanguard log-in were now shown under my Merrill Edge log-in.  And I qualified for a new account bonus.  And I earned Platinum Honors status with BOA’s Preferred Rewards program.

You can read all about BOA’s Preferred Rewards program in my post “Bank of America cards: awesome if you’ve got $100K lying around.”  The gist is this: if you have a total of $100K in deposits with Bank of America and Merrill Edge, you get a 75% bonus on all points earned with certain BOA credit cards.  This makes it possible to earn at least 2.62% rewards on all spend.  That’s crazy good.

So, recently I signed up for the Premium Rewards card.  With Platinum Honors, this card earns 3.5% back for travel & dining; and 2.62% back everywhere else.  I still use other cards in my wallet for their category bonuses (since they earn even more valuable rewards), but this card has replaced the Amex Blue Business Plus as my go-to everywhere else card.  Since I already have a healthy balance of Amex Membership Rewards points, I’m perfectly happy getting 2.62 cents per dollar instead of 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar.  Plus, the BOA Visa card is accepted in far more places.  And, unlike the Blue Business Plus card, the BOA card has no foreign transaction fees.

It’s great to have a better everywhere else card, but the big win was to make things super easy for my wife since I added her as an authorized user.  She now uses the Premium Rewards card everywhere.  Done.  Labels are no longer needed.

This strategy doesn’t maximize all of my wife’s purchases, but since the worst is 2.62% cash back, I can deal with losing out on better returns in a few categories.  Plus, when it comes time for really big purchases, I’m usually around with my Prestige card for airfare and dining, my Altitude Reserve card for Apple Pay, etc.

Best of all, this strategy makes things easier for my wife, and maybe just a smidge happier.  Maybe this strategy maximizes rewards after all.

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