People often ask me which credit card is my favorite, but there’s not a simple answer to that question. The truth is that my favorite credit card is the one that provides the greatest reward for the least amount of effort.
The best example of such a scenario is taking advantage of a credit card signup bonus. Many times these bonuses provide more than 5x the rewards of normal day-to-day spending and require very little time or effort.
Much like an employer offering you a job with a signing bonus of $50,000 and an annual salary of $10,000, credit card signup rewards are disproportionately front-loaded.
Most rational individuals would simply jump from one job to the next, collecting a new signup bonus each time.
But what if there was a way to continue receiving rewards from an older credit card, even after you had moved on to the next one?
What if, with little-to-no work required from you, they agreed to keep sending you a quarterly bonus? I’m probably safe to assume that almost no one would argue with that setup.
Well fellow travel junkies, let me introduce you to Better Balance Rewards.
What is the Better Balance Rewards Card?
Better Balance Rewards (“BBR”) is one of the many credit cards issued by Bank of America. The card is unique in that it offers a bonus every quarter for those who meet very basic minimum requirements.
Wait, no signup bonus?
That’s right, the Better Balance Rewards Card does not offer any sort of signup bonus. I wouldn’t usually vouch for such a card but hear me out.
The BBR is can be a great move for some people because they might be able to get it through something called a product change. Before we go any further let’s talk about what that means.
What is a product change?
In short, a product change, or “PC”, happens when you convert one credit card to another with the same bank.
Think of it like trading in your smartphone for a different model, but keeping your existing contract.
Because you are not applying for a “new” credit card the bank will not pull your credit and therefore your credit score will be completely unaffected.
So how does this work?
Let’s say you currently have the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card, which is another credit card is offered by Bank of America. And say that you no longer want that card because you don’t use it very often.
Instead of completely canceling the card, you could ask Bank of America to product change it to the BBR. Which would allow you to get the BBR card without having to apply for it (and have your credit pulled).
What is the BBR bonus, and how do I get it?
The BBR pays its card holders $25/quarter ($30 if you have a Bank of America checking account) for every quarter in which you pay more than the minimum amount due. In essence, Bank of America is rewarding you for wisely managing your credit.
Don’t be concerned by the language requiring you to pay “more than the minimum amount due.” If you pay off your balance in full every month (which I know all of my readers already do, right?), you will still receive the bonus at the end of the quarter.
That being said, you actually need to have a balance to pay off. You won’t receive anything if you have a $0 balance to pay off, so you have to put at least some spend on the card each month and do not pay it off prior to the statement close.
I recommend automating the process by putting a small, recurring charge on your card so that you don’t even have to think about it. For me, it’s my $7.99 monthly Netflix charge.
I also set up auto-pay to pay the full statement balance every month.
This one simple charge and payment allows me to receive a $25 bonus each quarter without having to do any work whatsoever.
This seems great! Can I Product Change my Bank of America card?
It seems so. However, there have been recent reports that Bank of America put a stop to this practice, as even it realized it seemed too good to be true.
That being said, there have been numerous confirmations in recent months, including my own, where people have been able to successfully convert their dormant Bank of America cards into the useful BBR.
Note, however, that it is not necessarily an easy thing to do.
Most representatives you speak to may continue to tell you it is not possible. In fact, I had to call back 6 times in order to get someone who was willing to do this.
If you speak with someone who says that the conversion of existing cards to the BBR is not permitted, I recommend politely thanking them for their time and trying again later. Eventually you’ll reach a representative who is able/willing to make this change.
Are there any downsides?
Not really. As stated above, it may be tough to get someone able/willing to make this product conversion, but after you have its fairly straight forward.
I’ve assembled a few final thoughts/warnings below; just follow them and you should be on your way to enjoying the easiest $100 – $125 (per card) you’ll make all year.
- Obviously, you can only product change other Bank of America cards to the BBR. You cannot product change cards from Chase, Amex, etc.
- Make sure you have at least some balance to pay off every month, and pay it off in full after the statement closes. I recommend using auto-pay to simplify this process.
- There have been reports recently that Bank of America is waiving small balances (<$3 or so) at month end, meaning you don’t have to pay them. While this may sound great, it also means you have no balance to pay off, and consequently will not receive your quarterly benefit. I would recommend having a balance of at least $5, as no one has reported Bank of America waiving a balance that high.
- If you choose to receive the $25 bonus as a statement credit, the bonus will post directly to your credit card, and eliminate any balance you have to pay. Bear in mind that if you have a checking account with Bank of America, you can choose to receive directly into your checking account instead (this is probably the easier option, as you’ll also receive an extra $5 every quarter). If you don’t have a checking account with them, just remember to make additional purchases on your card in months where you receive the cash reward, so that your balance doesn’t go negative when they generate your statement.
If you have a Bank of America card sitting in your sock drawer, you might as well convert it to the BBR and get some use out of it.
Also, by keeping it open, you’ll have access to Bank of America’s free museum program, which can provide a little something extra next time you are traveling over the first weekend of the month.
Images: eCheck.org, DayAir.org