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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 Feb 5, 19, 11:11 pm
  #46  
Xlr
 
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I see the option in the iPhone app. I changed it to drugstores (I go to Walgreens a lot here).
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Old Feb 7, 19, 9:58 am
  #47  
 
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I guess people are very excited about this card, but I can't get over the quarterly limits which seem low to me, even for regular organic spend.

Maybe people are expecting to do P1 & P2, but then that also means they'll have to put 2 piles of assets at BOA to get the Honors level returns for both accounts.

I'd rather the limit was more like CIC where it's an annual number, not a capped quarterly number.

That way if you had a big travel or home reno spend you could get all the benefit for that.

But for a free card it could work for a lot of people since (uncapped) ATT or ATTAM are kind of niche (or unavailable) products now.
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Old Feb 8, 19, 11:49 am
  #48  
 
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Originally Posted by akr1970akr View Post
Maybe people are expecting to do P1 & P2, but then that also means they'll have to put 2 piles of assets at BOA to get the Honors level returns for both accounts.
I don't know about retirement accounts but a joint brokerage account does confer Preferred Rewards status to both spouses, making P1+P2 doable.
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holyPockets is offline  
Old Feb 8, 19, 12:44 pm
  #49  
 
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I thought u can get multiple cash rewards card (can only apply for new CR 24 month after last CR approval, but can PC).

there are branded versions of CR too (wwf, us pride, MLB,...)

Each card has its own category and 2500/quarter limit?
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Old Feb 8, 19, 3:11 pm
  #50  
 
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Originally Posted by holyPockets View Post
I don't know about retirement accounts but a joint brokerage account does confer Preferred Rewards status to both spouses, making P1+P2 doable.
Aha. That's nice to know.
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Old Feb 8, 19, 5:32 pm
  #51  
 
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Originally Posted by paperwastage View Post
I thought u can get multiple cash rewards card (can only apply for new CR 24 month after last CR approval, but can PC).

there are branded versions of CR too (wwf, us pride, MLB,...)

Each card has its own category and 2500/quarter limit?
Yes you can PC if otherwise eligible and yes if you have more than 1 the categories and limits are independent of each other.
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Old Feb 9, 19, 1:49 pm
  #52  
 
Join Date: May 2012
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I transferred my Roth over to Merrill Lynch so I can boost the CB to 5.25%. I have four of the CC's, so that's a pretty good score. I wonder how long BOA will keep this CC around.
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Old Feb 11, 19, 7:34 am
  #53  
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
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It appears now that you can redeem your cash rewards as a statement credit and still earn the 5.25% for the highest tier. Previously, I had to redeem into my cash account at Merrill or my BAC checking account for the 5.25% category, which neither were efficient for me.
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DeltaNeutral28 is offline  
Old Feb 14, 19, 12:14 am
  #54  
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
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Has anybody tried using the card with apple pay at a merchant?

Do we know if apple pay gets the bonus? For example, if you choose drug stores, but you don't carry the card, will paying with the card via apple pay code as a 3% category?
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Old Feb 14, 19, 12:35 am
  #55  
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Originally Posted by robo2000 View Post
Do we know if apple pay gets the bonus? For example, if you choose drug stores, but you don't carry the card, will paying with the card via apple pay code as a 3% category?
Using Apple Pay doesn't change the merchant's category. In other words, it won't matter whether you use the physical card or not.
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Old Feb 19, 19, 7:35 am
  #56  
 
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Purchase putting you over 2500 now prorated

So one negative I noticed is that the purchase putting you over the 2500 bonus category limit is now prorated. Seems to have changed after the "one time" rewards adjustment that posted at end of January.

The way it was done before, if you were at 2450 and made a 2000 purchase, the bonus cat % applied to the entire 2000. Now it seems only 50 of the 2000 will get the cat bonus.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 7:35 am
  #57  
 
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Is there any way at all to see if you're close to the $2500 limit for bonus category? I use this card for online shopping/Costco/groceries for 5.25% and 3.5% back, but I am pretty sure I am nearing the limit if it's only up to $2500 spend.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 9:47 am
  #58  
 
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Originally Posted by LTimeL View Post
So one negative I noticed is that the purchase putting you over the 2500 bonus category limit is now prorated...
Someday BoA will get rid of that stupid cap (maybe). I've never seen a card that caps 2% and 3% categories from a large national bank on purchases in both categories COMBINED. BoA wants the card to pay 1% cash back on most purchases if you're a heavy spender.
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Old Mar 8, 19, 11:47 am
  #59  
 
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I think they are counting on people not understanding that nuance, or not having multiples of the card.

I agree the caps are just too low, even for non MSers.

Have gotten 3-4 mailed solicitations for this, and would probably do it for online (or even travel) if the caps were more reasonable. I would observe one thing - the travel category seems to include Real Estate Agents which is a rarity. That means for those who favor booking condo bookings through local agents (not Airbnb, VRBO etc.) that could finally get bonused. And those typically are pretty large expenses if you are staying for a long weekend, or a week. That could argue in favor of getting a few of those cards, and putting some assets at BoA to get the uplift.

For now I'll keep on using ATT for online, since its uncapped, and I can get ok value from TYP.

Thinking about it anyways, we don't really spend as much online as others seem to.
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Old Mar 22, 19, 12:07 am
  #60  
LAX
 
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Does anyone have experience on transactions that fit more than one category? For example, does purchasing a plane ticket online count as "Online shopping" or "Travel"? Or, does ordering foods online count as "Online shopping" or "Dining"? TIA.

LAX
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