[insert attention grabbing sentence ha ha] Sick of making payments to your credit cards company? Would you like to have a credit card company pay you $120 per year for paying your bills on time? This is not some generic and everyday promotional offer of earning $100 on your first $500 of purchases or a one time thing, it is $120 per paid to you every year? Still have your attention? I will tell you how to maximize this available deal so that it puts $120 in your pocket every year while improving your credit score.
Bank of America (BOA) has at what first looks like a to good to be true offer for individuals with good credit. Just by opening a new credit card with them and paying just one bill per month you receive $25 per quarter + $5 if you have another BOA account such as checking/savings/investment. No annual fee or charges related to the account. This seems like the perfect credit card arbitrage with no risk of losing money. Best of all it only takes for about 10 mins of your time.
Introducing the Better Balance Rewards card from Bank of America:
PRO FORMA DETAILS FROM WEBSITE
THE REAL DETAILS
1. You Need Good/Excellent Credit to Qualify
The offer is open to everyone 18yrs and older, however you need good credit. This usually means a FICO score of 720+ and no negatives on your account (i.e. collections, past due accounts, etc).
2. Must Pay One Bill With Card Per Month
In short, you cannot maintain a zero balance on the card to receive the bonus rewards. To earn rewards you must run at least one charge or pay 1 bill through the card per monthly cycle.
3. Must Pay More than the Minimum Due on or Before Due Date
This card is set up to reward people who pay their bills on time and pay more than the absolute minimum required. If you can do this, than this card is a good option for you.
4. You Need Another Account With BOA For the $5 Quarterly Bonus
For this feature, you need to have at least 1 open checking/savings/eligible retirement account with BOA. One requirement of a free checking account is that you have to maintain a $1500 minimum daily balance or have at least 1 monthly direct deposit of $250 or more to avoid monthly fees which negate the cash rewards. You can open a savings account for free as as long as you maintain a $300 daily minimum. Personally, if you are not a BOA customer, I would not bother for the extra $5 quarterly bonus. Just know that the maximum rewards per year will be reduced to $100. Still great!
5. Reward is Paid Quarterly
So if 3 monthly charges and subsequent payments show up on your statements between Jan-Mar you will get the $25 +$5 sometime in April. For those without a second BOA account you still get $25.
6. Have to Meet Requirements for Entire Quarter To Get Rewards
This is the little tricky part which BOA intentionally leaves murky. Based on my reading of the Terms and Conditions it says that you "must have a payment due in each of the monthly cycles of the calendar quarter to be eligible for the quarterly cash reward".What this means is that if you get your card in Feb and use it in Feb and March you will not be eligible to get the $25 reward for the Jan-Mar quarter. You will be eligible for the next quarter's payment in July for the Apr-Jun period.
HOW TO PLAY THIS FOR MAXIMUM REWARDS
1. Apply Online---usually takes under 2mins to fill out application and get an instant credit decision
2. Set Up 1 Automatic Bill for at Least $30 per monthly cycle---It needs to be a small fixed amount bill that does not fluctuate much. You cannot simply charge $1 dollar on the card. BOA has restrictions that will disallow the rewards for very low balances. So just to play it safe let's make it $30 or more.
3. Set Up an Automatic Payment With BOA---never have to worry about paying on time or missing the due date. You can set this up online to debit the bill due directly from your checking account (does not have to be BOA checking).
4. Always Pay Bill in Full---this means no high interest rate charges.
5. Put the BOA card in the proverbial sock drawer and never use it again---We are only interested in the $120 yearly rewards, nothing more. There are other cards to be used for normal cash back rewards.
6. More Credit, Lowers Utilization, Improves Credit Score
One of the easiest ways to improve your FICO credit score (the one that most lenders use) is to have more credit available because it will lower your credit utilization metric, which carries a heavy waiting on your score. Also, having another credit card will give you some breathing room during an emergency should that occur, since you can take advantage of the grace period between when the card billing cycle closes and when you have to make payment (at least 25 days).
POSSIBLE CONS & DRAWBACKS
As always there is no free lunch in life. Here are a few things to consider before applying
1. BOA Will Hard Pull Your Credit Report
While for most people this is not a major drawback, every hard pull will slightly lower your FICO credit score (about 5pts on average). So if you are about to buy a house or car, hold off on applying for the card until you complete these major transactions.
2. BOA Can Change The Terms of This Deal
In the small font fine print at the bottom under terms and conditions and in the card member agreement, BOA is allowed to change the terms of the card whenever they want without your approval. I know it is not fair, but after all you are dealing with a corporation here. This means that 3 yrs from now this rewards package may not be available. More incentive than ever to sign up today.
3. Do I really want a 2nd BOA Account for the $5 Quarterly Bonus?
It is up to you. If you already have BOA checking or savings it is a no-brainer. If not, it may not be worth the extra hassle of maintaining a $1500 checking balance or monthly direct deposit. No problem you still get the $25 per quarter anyway equaling $100 per year.
4. Zero Other Perks
Outside of the possible $120 per year in cash rewards, there are no other reasons to use this card. You do not get 1% cash back or travel rewards like you do on some cards. So outside of using it to pay one monthly re-occurring bill, I would never use this card again.
5. My Current Cashback Card is Better
Yes, many cash back cards offer 1%, 2%, and sometimes 3% back. But what makes this offer superior is that you only need to make one small payment per month of $30. Spend $90 bucks a quarter with this card and you get $25. How much would you get back from any other card? .90 cents (for 1% back ), $1.80 (for 2%), etc. You can see that this is far more generous deal compared to other rewards program.
6. $120: Worth the Effort?
To some people it may not be worth the effort and time to set this plan up. But let's consider how much time it takes to do this. I was able to apply an set up everything in under 5 mins (already BOA customer). So in essence, I earned $120 for 5 minutes of time. Not bad at all.
Of all the credit card offers available this has to be one of the better ones considering you do not have to spend thousands of dollars per month to earn the rewards. Furthermore, this is not a one time intro deal or first year teaser special, but an opportunity to earn money every year for using the card to pay one ordinary bill per month. This deal is even better if you are an existing BOA customer with a checking/savings/ retirement account because you get the $5 per quarter bonus (extra $20 a year). For those without an existing BOA account, the offer is $100 per year for doing nothing but make a charge or pay a bill once a month and pay in full. I like to think of this as a form of credit card arbitrage that puts money in your pocket with no risk.
BLACK SWAN INSIGHTS