Bank of America wants to pay you to be a customer

[note: as regular readers know, I don't have any third-party credit card affiliate links anywhere on my site, and I don't receive any compensation from any bank for any content that I write.]

If you asked the average travel hacker what their first reaction is to the words "Bank of America," I'd be surprised if fewer than 9 out of 10 said "Alaska Airlines."

The Alaska Airlines credit card, after all, comes with a $99 economy companion ticket the first year and on every subsequent account anniversary, which can be redeemed for a mileage-earning, upgradeable (for Alaska's own elite members, in certain fare classes) ticket on any Alaska-operated flight.

The tenth might recall the occasionally astronomical Virgin Atlantic signup bonus, especially back when those miles could each be transferred to 2 Hilton HHonors points.

And a theoretical eleventh might mention the Bank of America Travel Rewards card which, in a certain high-net-worth fantasy world, can earn slightly higher rewards (in the form of travel redemptions) than a straight 2% cash back card.

But the most important thing about Bank of America is that, like Citibank and US Bank, they allow you to apply and be approved for as many of the same card as your credit report will support. That's why you get to read hilarious articles about redeeming 3 Alaska Airlines companion tickets in one year – if you live in a city served by Alaska Airlines, and have a travel companion, you may as well have more, rather than fewer, of those cards in your sock drawer.

Better Balance Rewards: passive income is good income

For the last few days I've been ruminating over an e-mail I received from one of my readers, and then today I read this intensely stupid post from Frugal Travel Guy founder Rick Ingersoll. Together, they inspired me to write this post.

The Bank of America Better Balance Rewards Visa card pays you $25 per calendar quarter in which you have a balance post to each monthly statement and pay more than the minimum payment due. If you have a Bank of America checking account (or a few other eligible accounts – check the terms and conditions), you earn $30 per calendar quarter instead.

According to the terms and conditions for the card, The $25 or $30 per calendar quarter are credited to your credit card statement, "unless you indicate otherwise," which leads me to believe they can be credited to your checking account, instead – although I don't have a card myself yet, so can't swear to that.

While I've known about this card for a long time, what always made me think twice was the requirement that "all of your monthly payments...are more than the minimum payment due," per the terms and conditions. Since, when credit cards have extremely low balances, the minimum payment due is the same as the statement balance, it wasn't clear to me how trivial it would be to meet that condition.

My correspondent shared that he's been able to meet the requirement by making extremely small purchases each month, which reassured me that paying an entire statement balance will qualify for the quarterly rewards.

Use automatic transactions and avoid dumb mistakes

If you're just managing one or two of these cards, it's not too much trouble to make sure a $0.50 Amazon charge posts to each statement. But once you have a fair number of these cards going at once, you may want to set up automatic purchases and payments each month.

Many charities will allow you to make automatic monthly contributions, although they may have minimum monthly contributions (to compensate for credit card transaction fees).

If you find the content on this blog worth supporting, you can also sign up for a weekly or monthly PayPal subscription. At $2 per month, you can pay just $24 per year and never have to worry about a month going by without generating a qualifying statement balance.