Just One Of The Group - Back in the days prior to the 2008 financial crisis before BOA ran into trouble with their purchase of CountryWide, their credit card department had a really non-focused way in which it was run. The reason I say that is because it felt like all Bank of America was after was simply market share. In the rewards area, they had a few cards which were essentially identical (because they were based on the same WorldPoints reward program and they all earned the same number of points - $1 point/$1). They only deferred in their design and the fact that one was a Visa, the two were MasterCards. This review is focused on the The Bank of America WorldPoints Platinum Plus MasterCard, which is a slightly lower version than the "World MasterCard".
But What Is The Difference Between World MasterCard and Platinum Plus MasterCard - To understand the difference between the two tiers, we first have to understand the perks that come with MasterCard holders (regardless of issuers). MasterCard has a feature called Marketplace, which allows cardholders to get discounts and even coupons with their merchant partners (both online and offline). For example, MarketPlace have relationships with retailers like LandsEnd, Banana Republic etc.
The MarketPlace is free to join (as long as your card issuer is participating). But there is also a "premium" version of MarketPlace called MarketPlace Plus, where you are supposed to get "premium" offerings. The cost to upgrade to premium level is $29.95 a year. However, if your card is a "World MasterCard", then you are automatically enrolled in the premium version with no cost. Hence, if you get this card and want to be a premium member of MasterCard's MarketPlace, then you have to folk out an additional $29.95 a year. I suspect that most folks who not even bother about this and that this will be a trivial issue.
Let's Get The Fees And Key Features Out Of The Way - In the very competitive arena of rewards card, this card is like most other cards and has no annual fee. Though you can earn unlimited points, WorldPoints will expire in five years. Back then, applicants for this card will either be approved for a Platinum Plus or Preferred version (yes, an even lower tier). And the APR depends on which tier you get. For example, at one points in time (it changes because rates changes), Platinum Plus members will get a fixed APR at 9.99% while "preferred members" will get a 19.99% APR. BOA says that whether you get the Platinum Plus version or the Preferred version depends on your credit rating (though I would think MasterCard had every incentive to give applicants the higher version because the merchant interchange fees are higher). As with most Bank of America cards back then, they always throw in some form of 0% deals to get new sign ups.
Concierge Benefits - Cardholders get access a concierge service, which gives you personalized, exclusive assistance with reservations, referrals, and recommendations for dining, travel, entertainment, and a host of other services. This is a really nice perks since it is normally reserved for annual fee (high annual fee I might add) cards.
Our Brief Thoughts On WorldPoints Rewards - The WorldPoints rewards is an all-round reward program with travel, shopping and cash back rewards. Bank of America inherited this program when they took over MBNA. At present, it's travel rewards is slightly different from other programs like Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards and No Hassle Miles. It is similar in that you can use their portal and book flights and use points to redeem for them. 100 points gets you $1 in value (which is the same as all other reward programs). But WorldPoints also allows you to redeem tickets by using a fixed number of points based on a region and subject to a price ceiling. For example, you need 25,000 points for a US domestic round trip ticket up to $400 in value. If you can get a $400 ticket using only 25,000 points, that is great value, though you would be subjected to blackout dates, Saturday night stays if you use your points this way. As with most other programs, I find that it is not worth using points for merchandise or gift cards.
How Does This Card Fare Against Citi, Chase and Amex? - Back in it's days, this card had to contend from competition like the Chase Flexible Rewards and Citi Diamond Preferred Rewards Card and even the Blue from Amex. At the end of the day, it really boiled down to the reward program and your preference for the card issuer. I personally have the Merrill Lynch Card (with World Points), Chase Flexible Rewards and the Amex Platinum. So I am familiar with all three reward programs. Back then, I felt that the Membership Rewards program was the best program because you got real value redeeming points for gift cards and they also had the most merchandise in their catalog. Chase was then still building up their reward program and I felt that WorldPoints was not as good as MR. Hence, I would have recommended folks consider the Blue from Amex if they were looking at this card.
How Does It Compare To BOA's Other Rewards Card? - But even if you chose to get a BOA, the question remains which one to choose. It all depends if you wanted a MasterCard or Visa. If you wanted a MasterCard and you have excellent credit, I would have actually recommend getting the Bank of America World MasterCard with WorldPoints because of the higher tier within MasterCard and the fact that you could get a complementary MarketPlace Premium upgrade. If you are more inclined to get a Visa version, the BOA also had a Bank of America Visa Signature With WorldPoints back then. The benefits between Visa Signature and MasterCard are slightly different, hence you would have to do some research if it is a big deal for you.