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Bank of America Cash Rewards - 3% category qualifying options

Bank of America Cash Rewards - 3% category qualifying options

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Old Feb 16, 19, 6:06 am   -   Wikipost
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Last edit by: rasheed
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BofA has officially refreshed the Bank of America Cash Rewards card. It does not appear any aspect of the rewards program will be getting worse (only new positive options).

BofA has published a comprehensive document indicating the MCC for each bonus category.
BofA has published a pre-release article about the program for customers.
BofA has published a website detailing the 3% categories.

On a calendar monthly basis, a customer can choose a category from a pre-determined list to receive 3% cash rewards. If you do not change the category in a given calendar month, it will stay with what you picked the previous calendar month (or gas if none was ever chosen). You must make the change before the purchase happens (the term "future purchases" is used) because bonus rewards are calculated immediately when transactions post (unlike AmEx, but similar to Chase and Barclays). It seems possible that you could split the month among two categories if you leave the previous calendar month category and then change it later in the new month.

Category selection happens on mobile app or Online Banking website (not by phone call or chat).

Currently, that list is:

Gas (this will be the default if a choice is not selected)
-Pay at the pump (automated fuel dispensers including Costco Gas, Sam's Club and gas stations at grocery stores that categorize as fuel dispensers)
-Pay inside (when the convenience store is categorized as a service station)
-5172 Petroleum and Petroleum Products (*unique to BofA*)
-5541 Service Stations (includes many 7-11s for example)
-5542 Automated Fuel Dispensers (almost all pay at the pump classifies as this one regardless of brand or retailer)
-5983 Fuel Dealers (*unique to BofA*)
This is confirmed from the 3% category choice explanation website.

Gas and fuel merchants include merchants whose primary line of business is the sale of automotive gasoline that can be purchased inside the service station or at the automated fuel pump and gasoline purchased at boat marinas, as well as fuel dealers whose primary line of business is the sale of heating oil, propane and other fuels, such as kerosene.
Online Shopping
This category is actually the most restrictive of all the new choices. In general, a purchase made "online" via website or mobile should count. However, if the merchant is categorized as a service, it will likely not count. Paypal DOES pass along the MCC of the underlying merchant seller. If you are buying physical goods, it should be okay, but if you are buying any virtual item (gift cards, etc.), be aware that it probably will not count.

It appears that BofA did a NOT to include for this category and selected as many services that will not count (including tuition, taxes, healthcare bills, insurance, memberships). It also appears that BofA did NOT exclude any travel merchants where you make the purchase online (OTA/direct airlines/prepaid hotels?). So, it is an overlap of Travel.

MCCs that have confirmed to work (with Online Transaction flag as Y):
-4722 Travel Agencies and Tour Operators
-5300 Wholesale Clubs
-5399 General Merchandise/Misc
-5732 Electronics Stores
-5912 Drug Stores and Pharmacies
-5992 Florists
-8675 Automobile Associations

Paypal okay via online transaction if underlying merchant is in an allowed category.

Dining
Includes:
-5812 Eating Places and Restaurants
-5813 Drinking Places/Bars
-5814 Fast Food Restaurants
Not likely:
-5462 Bakeries (this is a fixed 2% category with grocery stores noted below )
-5811 Caterers

This is confirmed from the 3% category choice explanation website.

From another BofA card reference:
Travel and Dining Category: Dining includes Restaurants, including Fast Food, and Drinking Establishments, such as Bars or Taverns. [..]
Travel
BofA went further than all other BofA cards with travel categories for this card:
Airlines, Air Carriers, Airports, Airport Terminals, Flying Fields Amusement Parks, Carnivals, Circuses, Fortune Tellers Aquariums, Dolphinariums, Zoos and Seaquariums Art Dealers and Galleries Boat Leases and Boat Rentals Bus Lines Campgrounds and Trailer Parks Car Rental Agencies Cruise Lines Direct Marketing — Travel-Related Arrangements Services Hotels, Motels, Resorts Motor Home and Recreational Vehicle Rental Package Tour Operators (for use in Germany only) Parking Lots and Garages Real Estate Agents and Managers (Rentals) Recreation Services (not elsewhere classified) Suburban and Local Commuter Passenger Travel, including Ferries Taxicabs and Limousines Timeshares Truck and Trailer Utility Rentals Passenger Railways Toll and Bridge Fees Tourist Attractions and Exhibits Transportation Services (not elsewhere classified) Travel Agencies and Tour Operators
Note, it includes many, but not all Entertainment categories found in other cards such as Savor or Marvel. Some of the key ones excluded are Movies Theater-related. This card does include theme park tickets (at the ticket booth), but not retail stores or dining in theme parks. This card also has some unusual ones such as airports and art galleries.

Another BofA card that defines travel purchases indicates the following categories

This information needs to be verified (likely through card experience):
a) Airlines, Air Carriers (MCC Codes 3000-3299, 4511); (b) Lodging-Hotels, Motels, Resorts (MCC codes 3501-3999, 7011); (c) Car Rental Agencies (MCC codes 3351-3441, 7512, 4121); (d) Cruise Lines (MCC code 4411); Travel Agencies and Tour Operators (MCC codes 4722, 4416, 4417); (e) Passenger Railways (MCC code 4112); (f) Transportation-Suburban and Local Commuter Passenger, including Ferries (MCC Code 4111); (g) Bus Lines (MCC codes 4131, 4722); (h) Transportation Services-not elsewhere classified (MCC code 4789); (i) Real Estate Agents and Managers-Rentals (MCC code 6513); (j) Timeshares (MCC code 7012); (k) Campgrounds and Trailer Parks (MCC Code 7033); (l) Motor Home and Recreational Vehicle Rental (MCC Code 7519); (m) Tourist Attractions and Exhibits (MCC Code 7991, 5971); (n) Amusement Parks, Carnivals, Circuses, Fortune Tellers (MCC Code 7996); (o) Aquariums, Dolphinariums, Zoos, and Seaquariums (MCC Code 7998); (p) Boat Leases and Boat Rentals (MCC Code 4457); or (q) Recreation Services-not elsewhere classified (MCC Code 7999)

Another list for a different program indicates (looks like it overlaps with the above list):
How Your Travel Credit Works: A travel credit is applied as a statement credit to your account to offset travel purchases from qualifying merchants in these travel-related categories: airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, trailer parks, motor home and recreational vehicle rentals, campgrounds, car rental agencies, truck and trailer rental, cruise lines, travel agencies, tour operators and real estate agents, operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, boat rentals, parking lots and garages, tolls and bridge fees, tourist attractions and exhibits like art galleries, amusement parks, carnivals, circuses, aquariums, zoos and the like. Purchases from some merchants that provide travel-related goods and services will not be eligible for a travel credit, like in-flight goods and services, and duty-free airport purchases.
Drug Stores
-5912 (Drug Stores and Pharmacies)
-5122 (Drug Proprietors and Drug Sundries) (*unique to BofA*)
This is confirmed from the 3% category choice explanation website.

Home Improvement/Furnishings
Very broad list of MCCs.
Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Repair Shops Antique Shops for Sales, Repairs and Restoration Services Architectural, Engineering and Surveying Services Building Materials, Lumber Stores, Carpentry Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Contractors, Concrete Crystal and Glassware Stores Drapery, Upholstery and Window Coverings Stores Electrical Contractors Electrical Parts and Equipment Equipment, Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores (except Appliances) Equipment, Tool, Furniture and Appliance Rental and Leasing Fireplace, Fireplace Screens and Accessories Stores Floor Covering Stores Florist Suppliers, Nursery Stock and Flowers Furniture Reupholstering, Repair and Refinishing General Contractor/Residential Building Glass, Paint, Wallpaper Stores Hardware Equipment and Supplies Hardware Stores Heating, Plumbing, Air Conditioning Contractors Home Supply Warehouse Stores Household Appliance Stores Landscaping and Horticultural Services Lawn and Garden Supply Stores Masonry, Stonework, Tile Setting, Plastering, Insulation Contractors Miscellaneous House Furnishing Specialty Shops Office and Commercial Furniture Paints, Varnishes and Supplies Plumbing and Heating Equipment and Supplies Roof, Siding and Sheet Metal Work Contractors Special Trade Contractor (not elsewhere classified)
This is confirmed from the 3% category choice explanation website.

Fixed 2% grocery stores and wholesales clubs
Purchases made at eligible grocery store merchants and wholesale clubs, which include supermarkets, freezer/meat lockers, candy, nut or confection stores, dairy product stores, and bakeries. Excluded from this Bonus Category are superstores and smaller stores (like drug stores and convenience stores) that sell groceries and other products.
BofA's 2% grocery stores category is broader than AmEx's US supermarket category.

BofA does list the relevant matching description of the merchant for the MCC on the website transactions, but does not expose the actual MCC code.

The card will continue to earn 1% elsewhere and that is not included in the $2500 per quarter spend limit.

There does not appear to be any limitation on location of merchants worldwide to earn rewards as long as the merchant is properly categorized (unlike AmEx). Those customers who had the old Schwab 2% Invest First Visa issued by a BofA affiliate that did not otherwise cancel or proactively change the card when it was discontinued may have received a BofA Cash Rewards card thats does not have an added FTF (beyond Visa's embedded FTF rate) which is different than the card currently offered to customers. This version of the card offers international reward benefits for those customers.

There is a limit of $2500 in 2% or 3% category spending per quarter that will receive the bonus rate. Rewards can be redeemed at face value for any amount at any time. As long as account is in good standing, rewards do not expire. The only reason to hold rewards would be if you plan to qualify for Preferred Rewards and wish to get the relationship bonus rate for older spending when you do redeem the balance.

BofA customer bonuses:
All BofA deposit customers can receive at least a 10% bonus when they earn their reward if their total banking relationship indicates that they have a BofA checking or savings account. This is usually associated by having a BofA online account which has both the deposit and Cash Rewards card on the same login. The 10% program is still scheduled to continue in 2019, but may eventually be replaced by only the Preferred Rewards program.
Customers who have signed up for Preferred Rewards that requires a deposit relationship balance can currently receive a 25% to 75% redemption bonus. This can tremendously increase the value of the 3% and 2% categories when compared to other cards.
Information on the thresholds for that program are located here: https://www.bankofamerica.com/preferred-rewards/
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Old Oct 25, 19, 7:20 pm
  #136  
LAX
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Los Angeles, CA; Philadelphia, PA
Programs: OZ Diamond
Posts: 5,204
I realize many of you are happy with this card because of the potential 5.25% cash back and I was until I ran into a dispute with a merchant. It was on an order for less than $50 and despite of submitting all available documents, BA sided with the merchant. I honestly thought it was a straightforward case in my favor, but it ended up being dragged out for more than 3 months and with no credit.

The bottom line to me is that BA won't have your back if you run into a dispute (I am not a dispute-happy person & it was not a buyer's remorse scenario either). I am currently deciding whether to keep the cards for low value purchases at this time or just end all of my financial relationships with BA.

LAX
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Old Oct 26, 19, 11:03 am
  #137  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 61
Originally Posted by LAX View Post
The bottom line to me is that BA won't have your back if you run into a dispute…
Honestly, I feel this way about every card issuer except Amex. Therefore, I use the BofA Cash Rewards card for online purchases at reputable retailers or for lower priced items at smaller ones. For any and all risky or large online purchases, Amex Plat (or similar) it is. The $10,000 purchase protection for even lost items is alone worth the foregone rewards. It's more likely I'm going to screw up than it is that a retailer is going to screw me over. Same goes for an item where I'm going to want the warranty extended.

The Cash Rewards card is definitely a keeper for me. I'm still amazed at how much BofA has buffed this card.
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Old Oct 26, 19, 2:33 pm
  #138  
LAX
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Originally Posted by holyPockets View Post
Honestly, I feel this way about every card issuer except Amex. Therefore, I use the BofA Cash Rewards card for online purchases at reputable retailers or for lower priced items at smaller ones. For any and all risky or large online purchases, Amex Plat (or similar) it is. The $10,000 purchase protection for even lost items is alone worth the foregone rewards. It's more likely I'm going to screw up than it is that a retailer is going to screw me over. Same goes for an item where I'm going to want the warranty extended.

The Cash Rewards card is definitely a keeper for me. I'm still amazed at how much BofA has buffed this card.
Can't agree more with you. I have always put my more expensive purchases on my Amex cards ever since a no hassle claim on a laptop that stopped functioning after the original manufacturer's warranty expired. All I needed to do was submit an estimate for repair by a local computer shop and the credit for original purchase price was in my account within a week or two. Not to mention that it was not a premium Amex card. Granted it wasn't a dispute like this time, but I can't imagine Amex would stiff me on $50 after I submitted screenshots on the promo offer & what I got charged. It was obvious to me that BA didn't care that I was right. What's worse is that it got dragged on for so long that I can no longer return the items, which I would have had I thought this wasn't going to be straightforward.

Maybe I will just keep the minimum amount of assets to get the bonus on the cards. I am pretty sure BA is banking on people migrating assets over once they get you in the door, which I had been doing since I acquired the cards. However, I am going to do a complete U turn now and pull out assets until the minimum is left. Perhaps BA doesn't care, but I am really surprised that they are willing to piss off a customer for a mere $50 (that was my first dispute in about 4-5 years with BA).

LAX
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Old Oct 26, 19, 4:51 pm
  #139  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
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Originally Posted by holyPockets View Post
Honestly, I feel this way about every card issuer except Amex.
If we're talking chargebacks, I've had to do a few with Chase and I didn't have any issues. They were pretty straightforward, though. I also had to take advantage of trip delay once and other than Delta taking a while to get me the needed letter, I didn't have issues. (No experience with BofA's yet, but I also don't put much on my Cash Rewards CC or my debit card other than at ATMs for the latter.)

On that note, I actually feel less comfortable with AmEx than any of the others (due to a previous somewhat negative fraud related experience + general CS issues). Of course, YMMV.
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Old Oct 26, 19, 5:17 pm
  #140  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 61
Originally Posted by LAX View Post
Maybe I will just keep the minimum amount of assets to get the bonus on the cards.
Your situation definitely sounds poorly handled. I've only been with BofA for a couple of years, but I've maintained low expectations due to data points such as yours. Haven't needed their help so far.

The way I have my Merrill account set up, they make $0 from me. Couple that with the cash back I extract from them monthly, and I'm a net liability for them. I assume the ≥90% of FT customers are money losers for their banks as well. The question is: If I don't like BofA, but they're losing money on me, should I stay or leave?

Another workaround for you might be to change your 3% category to something other than online purchases, dining perhaps? Or maybe work on getting a second CR and try to extract more cash back from them? At least you learned the lesson pretty cheaply that when in doubt, just return the item rather than rely on BofA to cover your 6.
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Old Oct 26, 19, 7:52 pm
  #141  
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 3
I have the BOA Travel card, don't use that much. Thinking if they will do a product change to this?
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Old Oct 26, 19, 11:36 pm
  #142  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Originally Posted by iam_k_man View Post
I have the BOA Travel card, don't use that much. Thinking if they will do a product change to this?
Yes they can. It'll take 2 weeks to be completed
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Old Nov 9, 19, 1:41 pm
  #143  
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I didn't know about the online shopping as a 3% option.

I usually use Citi Double Cash for 2% and a generous extended warranty program for major purchases, especially electronics (but they're giving me a hassle for not having an Apple Store receipt even though I clearly have the statement transaction.).

Has anyone dealt with the extended warranty claims for electronics devices purchased with the BofA Cash Rewards Visa?
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Old Nov 12, 19, 7:33 pm
  #144  
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 290
I am still new to BoA world- no account or any relationship but looking for business cards since they don't show up in credit report. Anyone familiar with BoA business credit cards? Seems there are two; the travel reward and cash back cards. Are they completely separate? So no way to change the cash back earning to rewards? Also, seems that the travel reward bonus only applicable if transaction is via their travel website?
Last question, seems you get more bonus value if you have > $20K in the business program. Does that mean if I just open a checking business account and move $20K from my other bank to this bank, then I will get that additional bonus? Not interested in saving accounts.
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Old Nov 12, 19, 8:24 pm
  #145  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: BAY AREA
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Originally Posted by good_boy_1234 View Post
I am still new to BoA world- no account or any relationship but looking for business cards since they don't show up in credit report. Anyone familiar with BoA business credit cards? Seems there are two; the travel reward and cash back cards. Are they completely separate? So no way to change the cash back earning to rewards? Also, seems that the travel reward bonus only applicable if transaction is via their travel website?
Last question, seems you get more bonus value if you have > $20K in the business program. Does that mean if I just open a checking business account and move $20K from my other bank to this bank, then I will get that additional bonus? Not interested in saving accounts.
Both cards have different award structure. One is cash back and other is points to be used for travel credits at 1% rate. The rewards bonus are in their Travel website. Lastly you can open checking business earn more per teir. I think there's 3 tiers. The more money you have, the more you earn.
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Old Nov 14, 19, 6:51 am
  #146  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: BAY AREA
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Just a DP. I did a $10 test charge on FasTrack and showed a an online purchase and got the online category bonus. But when I set it up as auto re-load, the $80 charge didn't show as online charge but a standard charge. So I added back my BofA Premium card to earn 3.5 instead of 1.75 with cash card. 🙄
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Old Nov 23, 19, 6:15 am
  #147  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 99
Walt Disney World Resort payment made online counts as 3% online payment with flag set. It is also listed as travel, so I would imagine that would work as well. Also, it seems the category set when the purchase was made (not when the purchase posts) is what counts. I changed my category from online to travel between the transaction date and posting date and the rewards section shows the category in when effect the purchase was made (not when the purchase posted).
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Old Dec 12, 19, 6:02 pm
  #148  
ra7
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 26
Brightspark travel payment counted as 3% for online purchase.
google fi phone order also counted as 3% (comast and total wireless didn't)
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Old Dec 16, 19, 2:06 pm
  #149  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: SFO
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This is the only card I have from BoA. Their other cards aren't worth much but the Cash Rewards has 2% cash back at drugstores, which no other card has. So this is my CVS/Walgreens card.
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Old Dec 18, 19, 10:47 am
  #150  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Virginia
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data point: Platinum Honors

paid my mortgage via Plastiq and got 5.25% cash back


PQ *SUNTRUST MORTGAGE - CA
12/16/2019 12/17/2019 Pending $1,195.62

BASE: PQ *SUNTRUST MORTGAGE$11.96

CATEGORY BONUS: for online shopping purchase$23.91

RELATIONSHIP BONUS: Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors - 75% Bonus$26.90

Reward $62.77
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