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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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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.

-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. [..]
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 Dec 13, 18, 12:06 pm
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Bank of America Cash Rewards - 3% category qualifying options

I have started this new thread to help track the new BofA "choose your 3% cash back category" monthly program that starts the week of 1/14/2019.

The wiki will be the best reference post to contain relevant information. In particular, we will want to track which MCC or examples receive the bonus rate chosen. At least one of the categories, a broad "travel" category is relevant to the FT community. If there is information in other threads about how BofA categorizes "travel", that should also be included.

This card will continue to reward 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% at all non-bonus locations.

This card is considered especially valuable because of the bonus rewards for BofA deposit customers. At least 10% rewards for any customers who redeems to a savings or checking account, and 25% to 75% for customers in the Preferred Rewards program.
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Old Dec 13, 18, 1:39 pm
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What a great deal! 5.25% return for any online shopping or travel is just awesome. Can't wait.
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Old Dec 13, 18, 2:50 pm
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Online Shopping BofA Data Needed!

Okay folks, we really need to start doing some data gathering on the Online Shopping category. Unless BofA releases any specifics on this category, the best case assumption is to use the Online Transaction flag. I am going to give some examples of merchant processors, merchants or categories that we can use the collective help from users of BofA cards prior to the launch to see if they might count.

The flag again is called Online Transaction and you have to click on the transaction on the mobile app or open the arrow on the online banking portal to see if this flag is Y or N. You can post the information if you see something that has not already been determine OR if you have something useful to add for this flag use.

Any BofA card that has these examples are okay AND Visa/MC, doesn't matter. Also, use of the three digit security code on the back of the card for the online transaction is not a mandatory thing as some online retailers don't ask for it, but it might impact the flag result.

Here is the example list to look for example BofA transactions:

Amazon (both marketplace and direct Amazon.com items sold, they have different merchant descriptions sometimes)
Ebay (both the new direct card payment and Paypal option) YES
Paypal - online (stores that have the option at checkout) YES
Paypal - in-store (using a linked BofA card)
Paypal - Samsung Pay connected
Samsung Pay (in-store) (does not qualify)
Google Pay/Android Pay (both online and in-store use)
Apple Pay (both online and in-store use)
Play Store (Android)
Walmart Pay (both online and in-store QR use)
Best Buy online
Groupon/Living Social/Travelzoo
Theme park tickets online (Undercover Tourist, other sites)
Masterpass online (remember, Masterpass takes non-MC cards)
Visa checkout online
Cable/Utility/Phone Bill online (both automatic pay setup online AND one-time pay)
Taxes paid online with service fee (Heartland or others)
Government services online with no service fee (DMV, court fees, etc.)
School tuition paid online (universities, college, secondary/elementary schools)

Direct airline ticket bought online
Online travel agencies (all kinds prepaid, travel activities, OTA is shown as merchant, airline is shown as merchant)
App-based payments (Caviar, Postmates, Uber, Uber Eats, Lyft, Starbucks, Dunkin)
Online hotels, train/rental cars/shuttle services (prepaid, deposit and pay at end, but only when you never provide the physical card to the merchant ever, even at check-in/pick-up or end of use and only entered the card online)
Google Express
Pizza services (pizzahut.com/dominos online or app)
Netflix/Sling/Hulu/Spotify/etc. (mostly reoccurring transaction)
Restaurants direct pay online or app (Revel online order, BJs app)
Insurances paid online (home, car, life, etc. both one-time and automatic setup online)
Direct restaurants paid in app for pick-up or delivery (Wendys, McDonalds, Taco Bell, CFA, etc.)
Online donations/charity both one-time and setup online reoccurring
HomeDepot/Lowes online orders (both delivery and for pick-up)
Movie tickets - Atom, Fandango, AMC direct, Regal direct, others (both app and website examples)
Recharge travel pass (toll pass or mass transit pass where transaction for recharge only setup online)
Tickemaster/theater/concerts/axs/stubhub/others bought only online (can be paper or e-ticket)

Useful overseas examples of online transactions on BofA cards welcomed (train companies, regional airlines, online ticket purchases, taxi apps).

I am a bit worried about reoccurring charges versus single-pay online ones, but I need data to know that answer.
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Last edited by rasheed; May 8, 19 at 9:57 am
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Old Dec 13, 18, 7:18 pm
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Originally Posted by rasheed View Post
Okay folks, we really need to start doing some data gathering on the Online Shopping category.
If you want to how worried I am about the confusion that might occur about what counts and what doesn't, go look at the wikipost atop this thread:

Citi AT&T Access More card (Discontinued)

The Citi Access and Access More cards have been giving 2x and 3x respectively for "online shoipping" for years, but the wiki has just about as equally big a list of sites that don't work as the list of sites that do work! Including none of the main national camera stores working directly (you have to use paypal).

I don't know if anyone has ever figured out the rhyme and reason for those lists being as they are or not. I also don't know if the problems shown there are Citi-specific or would happen at any bank that tried to give a bonus for "online shopping".
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Old Dec 14, 18, 4:50 pm
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This is good information.

I have avoided using other card companies for this online shopping category because the definition can be broad. For example, Chase has a field, but it is defined more of a Card Not Present concept.

Some merchants run web transactions as CNP on their in-person processor versus using an online merchant processor. This should go away eventually as merchant processing rules get more strict.

Citi also seems to be applying some exclusions based on MCC. Obviously, we hope that will not be the case here, but possible.
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Old Dec 16, 18, 10:46 am
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I got an email and a letter from BofA about this too. If I was still focusing mostly on cash back instead of points I'd definitely keep the card's bonus category locked on online purchases.

That said, maybe I'll try doing a test purchase from Amazon at some point and see if it actually counts for the 3%. Assuming someone else doesn't do it before I get to it, of course.

BTW I doubt Apple/Google Pay in-person purchases will count. At least on Chase, those show up as in-person purchases.
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Old Dec 30, 18, 4:54 pm
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I just paid the daycare bill for my son using their online payment website using my BoA Premium Rewards card, and the Online Transaction flag was N, which is not a good sign that I’ll be able earn 3% using Cash Rewards.
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Old Jan 11, 19, 8:41 pm
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Not a good sign. Do you remember if the website for the tuition was passed a third party processor when doing the payment or any indication on the charge if they used one?

A few days to go before the madness begin. I am hoping Paypal will work for online shopping, but would like to see what else is okay online.

Lots of buzz of a few people getting access to the 3% category selection tool early. I don't have it yet. I did see an article on the SSO rewards site about the new program. It expanded definition for the existing categories (gas and groceries), but there was no information about the new categories. Some of the online buzz indicated that there was details for those who have the selection tool about the category selection and what qualifies, but I have not seen any of the details. Gas is a very broad category (especially for those who get gas delivered to their home for household use). Groceries also includes small, independent, local stores which are not included on AmEx (for example).

Last edited by rasheed; Jan 12, 19 at 7:04 pm
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Old Jan 14, 19, 6:43 am
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The examples are kinda crazy (scroll down to online shopping and expand )

Online AND mobile app, and covers uber.com (only gift cards?), Airlines etc


The Online Shopping category includes online and mobile app purchases in a wide variety of merchant categories* including, but not limited to:

Bookstores Clothing and Apparel Department Stores Discount Stores Electronics Specialty Retail Stores Sporting Goods

Merchant Examples**

  • Amazon.com
  • Americanairlines.com
  • Apple.com (Includes Itunes & Store)
  • Bestbuy.com
  • Deltaairlines.com
  • Etsy.com
  • Groupon.com
  • Macys.com
  • Microsoftxboxlive.com
  • Qvc.com
  • Starbucks.com
  • Target.com
  • Ticketmaster.com
  • Uber.com
  • Walmart.com
  • Wish.com
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Old Jan 14, 19, 11:51 am
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Do not see where to change category for 3%
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Old Jan 14, 19, 12:53 pm
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For where to change the category, the site says:
At first, the choice category will be set to gas purchases. As you plan for future purchases, you can update your choice category selection in our Mobile Banking app or in Online Banking.You can update your selection once each calendar month. If you don't make a change, the choice category will remain the same.
I've already changed it, and don't know if I can fully replicate it, but on a desktop browser, when logging in, select the card, then Rewards, you get the six options, and click the one you want.

For a while, I've only used the card for some automatically set up charges to charity, and when I made the selection today, I thought it said those were all in the Online Shopping category, but I don't find it saying that as I check it again.
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Old Jan 14, 19, 1:57 pm
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Originally Posted by rove312 View Post
For where to change the category, the site says:

I've already changed it, and don't know if I can fully replicate it, but on a desktop browser, when logging in, select the card, then Rewards, you get the six options, and click the one you want.

For a while, I've only used the card for some automatically set up charges to charity, and when I made the selection today, I thought it said those were all in the Online Shopping category, but I don't find it saying that as I check it again.
Unfortunately, I do not see any option(s) in my rewards tab of the cash rewards card to change the 3% categories.
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Old Jan 14, 19, 2:06 pm
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Originally Posted by DeltaNeutral28 View Post
Unfortunately, I do not see any option(s) in my rewards tab of the cash rewards card to change the 3% categories.
I received an email from BofA on Friday stating that the changes would be effective the “week of” January 14, and in the footnotes it further stated that it could take 7-10 days for my account to be “enrolled”. So it looks like accounts are being converted in batches. Mine still hasn’t been done.
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Old Jan 14, 19, 4:24 pm
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I also do not have the option yet, so it could be anytime this week.

Thank you for posting the details document from the website. I will get the wiki updated. I think I did very well on most of the categories sniffing from other BofA cards and materials, but Online Shopping is a whole new game.

I am guessing they are doing the Online flag minus all of the MCCs they are excluding. So sad, but the reality in today's MS world.

It does appear that the Travel category does get the overlap with Online Shopping which might be enough to remove Travel as a preferred choice.
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Old Jan 15, 19, 4:47 pm
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The fact that they couldn’t roll this out all at once to cardholders is pathetic. I have yet to see the choices or the removal of the minimum redemption amount.
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