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.

Recent “On my mind” posts:

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Deniz W
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Deniz W

I like the labeling idea. I will copy that if you don’t mind 😉

Teresa Henning
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Teresa Henning

Happy Wife Happy Life

Randy
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Randy

Love the labeling, works well for us. I looked into migrating my 401k to Merrill Edge but was appalled by the fees Merrill would charge versus no fee transactions when conducted directly with Vanguard. I couldn’t justify the move financially. Did you do a comparison?

Justin
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Justin

You also get 100 free trades per month with Platinum Honors status.

iahphx
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iahphx

So if I understand it correctly, I’d have to deposit 100K at Bank of America and pay a $95 annual fee to get the “truly worthwhile” cash back? The $95 is the bigger disincentive for me. Sure, I could get the card for a year and cancel, but I’d rather just keep the card like I use my AMEX business blue card. If I have to pay $95 a year, I suspect I’m not better off than with AMEX blue.

Steve
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Steve

The annual $100 travel is pretty easy to use, so annual fee is effectively zero.

Steve
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Steve

Great strategy. I recently converted my premium rewards to a cash rewards to get the 5.25% category bonus so this wasn’t an option for me. But based on my wife’s spending, I got her the Amex EDP, which she seems to like. She also carries a Citi Prestige, a Target redcard, and a chase freedom unlimited. So I tell her “the redcard for target, the Mastercard for eating out, the EDP for everything else, and the Freedom unlimited if they don’t take Amex.” She’s managing with the help of my 13 year old son, but still gets it wrong from time to time. I also find myself having to supplement her grocery store purchases on the EDP which I have loaded to my Samsung Pay.

Frank
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Frank

I pay my estimated taxes with the BoA Premium card, make a small profit.

Bill
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Bill

Great subject Greg! My wife hates having to figure out which card to use, … I just give her one card (usually one that is working on a sign-up bonus). If we’re in between sign-up bonuses, … I’ll just have her use a 2% cash back card.

Pointz
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Pointz

Mine too. Seems like this happens to too many of us out there, it needs to be investigated why they behave that way ))

Robert Frank
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Robert Frank

It’s frustrating how so many wives aren’t interested in easily saving hundreds of dollars

P T
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P T

Forget the BoA discussion. I’m commenting on the first part of the post. I recently went out of town and as I was getting out of the car said “Remember, use Chase Freedom at the grocery store.” Never thinking there would be any additional purchases in six days. Wrong. 1x UR for many items. Argh!

Jared
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Jared

Is there a reason you added her as authorized user instead of having her sign up for her own card to get sign up bonus?

Yuri
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Yuri

In my wife’s wallet all labeled cards:
Citi Prestige – restaurants
Amex Gold – groceries
Citi AT&T Access More – online
Citi Premier – gas
Amex BBP – everything else
Barclays Priceline 2x – everything else, if Amex is not accepted, or for online foreign currency payments
In Samsung Pay – Altitude Reserve (but it’s never used)

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