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molsusports
Ohio State Fan
Member since Jul 2004
30732 posts

BoA Rewards and Merill Edge
I wanted to solicit opinions and experience from the board with Bank of America and Merrill Edge (Lynch) financial services.

BoA has a reasonable but tiered rewards system for their credit card rewards. Specifically:

3% back on one category
2% back on grocery and superstore purchases
1% back on everything else

Note that the higher than 1% rewards are limited to the first $2500 per quarter- everything after that is at a 1% cash/rewards return.

However, they sweeten the rewards tiers across the board if you are a significant investor with Merrill Edge. With the following tiers:

Extra 25% on all rewards with 20k to $49,999 invested in ME
Extra 50% on all rewards with 50k to $99,999 invested in ME
Extra 75% on all rewards with 100k or more invested in ME

Meaning a base cash back of 1.75% for any purchase and as much as 5.25% back on the first $2500 per quarter in your special category.

This sounds pretty good but I would love feedback from anyone with experience with these companies. Have they been ethical and lived up to their promises? Are there low expense ratio funds that compare with the fidelity and vanguard funds? Is having them manage a fund like a fidelity 500 or vanguard 500 under their umbrella going to create surprise charges that make the credit card rewards less worthwhile?


LSUtiger89
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Dec 2007
1459 posts

re: BoA Rewards and Merill Edge
Well you’re going to be paying 1% wrap fee on top of it. So you are paying for it, just in extra fees.


molsusports
Ohio State Fan
Member since Jul 2004
30732 posts

re: BoA Rewards and Merill Edge
You are saying that you have to have an investment advisor or manager when you use ME financial services? That makes using them fairly unappealing- on a 100k account an annual 1k of service fees (to serve as the middle man for index fund holdings) is pretty exorbitant


LSUtiger89
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Dec 2007
1459 posts

re: BoA Rewards and Merill Edge
Exactly!


igoringa
LSU Fan
Tejas
Member since Jun 2007
11076 posts

re: BoA Rewards and Merill Edge
Confused by this wrap fee. I don’t use the BoA credit cards but I believe the tiered levels are based off amounts held at BoA/ME. What fee are you talking about? They include all bank accounts -at BoA and brokerage accounts/IRAs etc at ME.

Ie I am platinum elite based on my bank accounts and I do some no fee trading in ME. I don’t see the fee you are referring to? Maybe I am missing it


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FriscoTiger
LSU Fan
Frisco, TX
Member since Aug 2005
1507 posts

re: BoA Rewards and Merill Edge
I have been a Merrill Edge and BofA credit customer for years. IMO it is the best deal out there. Free trades and crazy points for travel that can be used on any airline or hotel.
I pay zero fees.


632627
Southern Cal Fan
LA
Member since Dec 2011
9194 posts

re: BoA Rewards and Merill Edge
I have Merrill and b of a and I love it.


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Negatiger1986
LSU Fan
Inside the Leather
Member since Sep 2010
302 posts

re: BoA Rewards and Merill Edge
I switched to this service just before the Scottrade/TD Ameritrade merger in early 2018. I have been happy with it.

I have both the Premium Rewards Visa ($100 annual fee) and Cash Rewards MC ($0 fee) credit cards, and with the 75% "bonus" we get 5.25% cash back for online shopping (Cash Rewards card) and 3.5% on travel and 2.6% on all other purchases (Premium Rewards card). They refund $100/yr of airline fees (ie baggage) with the premium rewards card so if you travel you easily recover the fee that way.

The free trades were a very nice perk when I switched but Schwab forced everyone to $0 trades recently.

I think the interface on Merrill edge is relatively intuitive and they have some helpful tools for analyzing the performance and allocation of your investments. These tools break down ETFs as well - so say you own Microsoft across 3 or 4 ETFs, the tool will sum those to tell you your total exposure to Microsoft. I imagine other firms have this capability too but I think it is pretty cool.

With "preferred" status you go straight to the front of the queue whenever you call them, so service is good when you need it.

Almost all of my investments are in Vanguard ETFs - so you have access to those and many others with low fees. I do not believe there are any zero-fee funds (I think Vanguard offers this on their funds in their brokerage accounts).

I can't speak to the advisor question as I use a self-directed account. Clearly any fees you're paying to an advisor would eat in to the "rewards".

Anyway, I am always a little surprised this "bundle" BAML offers doesn't get more love on this board. I have a hard time thinking there is a better CC rewards program out there if you qualify for the 75% kicker.


molsusports
Ohio State Fan
Member since Jul 2004
30732 posts

re: BoA Rewards and Merill Edge
Looking around I did see a somewhat comparable offer related to capital one and JP Morgan investments They had a seemingly generous offer of a 1k bonus/reward with a capital one card if you opened a new 75k plus jp Morgan investment account.

In that case however there was a pretty big catch because you were required to have an advisor/manager and therefore pay the resulting management fees.

So far I can find no similar requirements or fees with BoA/ME.


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igoringa
LSU Fan
Tejas
Member since Jun 2007
11076 posts

re: BoA Rewards and Merill Edge
quote:

Anyway, I am always a little surprised this "bundle" BAML offers doesn't get more love on this board. I have a hard time thinking there is a better CC rewards program out there if you qualify for the 75% kicker.


Good point. I have that ‘status’ and have enjoyed the free trades.... never looked at the CC (even though I carry one).

Always done Amex platinum for
Business and chase UR for hookers and blow. Might need to take another look


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