Scoring a great rewards card from your existing bank

Reaping Your Rewards: Banks are willing to reward good customers

Scoring a great rewards card from your home bank

If you’ve ever switched your checking account to a different bank, you know what a hassle it can be. You have to open an account at the new bank and put money in the account. You wait for your checks to arrive. You wait for checks from the old bank to clear. You redirect your direct deposits. You disable automatic payments from your old bank – and re-enter all the information at the new bank.

It’s not complicated, but it takes time and a lot of steps.  

Credit cards, on the other hand, are relatively easy to switch. Sign up for one online and get approved in minutes. Call and cancel another. It takes a few days for a new card to arrive, plus a few weeks to settle outstanding balances on a canceled card, but the process is mostly pain-free. That encourages credit card reward mercenaries who move seamlessly from one card to another.

Now, though, banks are increasingly tying their credit cards to their other types of accounts. Over the years, banks have become more adept at cross-selling, which involves, for instance, marketing checking accounts to their card customers and vice-versa (or perhaps Visa versa?). When banks merge, they often have mentioned cross-selling as a rationale: A bank strong in credit cards might buy a bank that’s strong in mortgages and then try to sell cards to those homeowners. For adept consumers, this development can result in some opportunities to gain reward points.

The latest evidence of this trend was the announcement in August by Bank of America, which said it would start offering a card that gives extra rewards points to customers who have deposit accounts at the bank. In September, the new Premium Rewards credit card (annual fee: $95)* will give points based on how much money the customer has in checking, savings and investment accounts.

With no money or less than $20,000 at the bank, the card will award 2 points per dollar on travel and dining and 1.5 points per dollar on all else. Those points increase based on deposits, and customers with $100,000 or more will earn 3.5 points on every dollar of travel and dining and 2.6 points on all else. Those are some of the highest earning rates that exist: Some of the best competitor cards out there top out at 3 points per dollar on travel and dining and 2 points on everything else.

Of course, to achieve those rates you have to have $100,000+ at Bank of America. As CreditCards.com’s Matt Schulz told CNN Money, “This is a card designed for Bank of America customers or those willing to be Bank of America customers. They are not looking for credit card gamers.”

But for those who enjoy accumulating miles and points, there is a lesson here: When looking for cards, it can pay to look first at the bank where you already have an account. It might not make sense to switch your entire retirement savings and checking accounts just for the sake of reward points, but if you already have an account somewhere, that could be a smart place to start.

Other links between card rewards and standard banking include: 

  • Citi: The bank rewards its Citigold, Citi Priority and private banking clients with a $100 discount on the Citi Prestige card (annual fee is typically $450). 
  • Chase: This summer, the bank ran a promotion offering 100,000 Chase points to card customers who closed on a Chase mortgage loan

Other banks often offer credit card perks to their high-dollar, private banking clients. In addition, big banks occasionally offer better credit card deals inside their bank branches than they do online to non-bank customers.

All of this is a reminder that when shopping for cards, look first to the banks with which you already have an established relationship – especially if you have a lot of money in that bank. You might find some breaks on credit card fees or even more points.

*The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please see the banks' websites for the most current version of card offers.

See related: Are airline cards worth the annual fee?, Sizing up a credit card rewards scheme 


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Updated: 11-22-2017