Stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, who was banned from flying with IndiGo airlines for six months amid recent controversies, has now sent a legal notice to the airlines demanding a public apology and an amount of Rs 25 lakh for “causing mental pain and agony”, as well as the revocation of the ban.
On Tuesday, IndiGo airlines had suspended the comedian from flying with the airlines for six months following his ‘unacceptable behaviour’ onboard the flight. This came after Kamra had posted a video on social media on Tuesday, which shortly went viral. In the video, it could be heard that the comedian was throwing a series of questions at an anchor of a popular broadcast news media network, Arnab Goswami, inside an IndiGo airlines flight. The comedian was also heard making several comments regarding the anchor’s journalistic ethics.
IndiGo airlines had also tagged the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Union Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri in the Twitter post where it informed of the ban.
@MoCA_GoI @HardeepSPuri In light of the recent incident on board 6E 5317 from Mumbai to Lucknow, we wish to inform that we are suspending Mr. Kunal Kamra from flying with IndiGo for a period of six months, as his conduct onboard was unacceptable behaviour. 1/2
— IndiGo (@IndiGo6E)
Union Minister Hardeep Puri also called Kunal Kamra’s behaviour “offensive” and “designed to provoke and create disturbance inside an aircraft”. It is “unacceptable and endangers the safety of air travellers,” he said. Following the precedent set by Indigo; Air India, SpiceJet, and GoAir airlines, too, had on Wednesday suspended stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra from flying with the airlines until further notice.
However, several critics later pointed out the reported inconsistency in the airline’s actions. It has been highlighted that, according to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) guidelines, the normal procedure regarding any complaint dictates that an internal committee be formed by the airlines within 30 days to probe the complaint. Moreover, the committee’s decision can later be challenged in an appellate body of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and a court. Without following any of these procedures, a direct ban of six months seems somewhat arbitrary, critics have pointed out.
Moreover, DGCA guidelines list three categories of passengers who are prevented from flying. The category which matches Kamra’s alleged actions – “disruptive behaviour” – only carries a three-month ban. The other two which are unlikely to match the comedian’s actions – “physically abusive behaviour” and “endangering aircraft and passengers” – carry six-months and two-years bans respectively.
Moreover, the pilot who was operating the flight has now pitched in his opinions on the matter. The pilot has penned a letter to the airlines expressing his concerns over the airlines taking action ‘without consulting the Pilot-in-Command’.
In the letter that the pilot of the aircraft has now penned to the airlines, he stated that he did not observe any physical contact between the two individuals involved in the controversy. Moreover, he said that he had noticed Kamra was gesticulating to Goswami, who was unresponsive.
“I did not observe any physical contact between the two gentlemen at any point. I made a Passenger Address to the cabin asking the gentleman standing in the passenger aisle near Row 1 to return to his seat,” the pilot expressed in his letter.
The pilot further penned that even though Kamra’s behaviour was unacceptable and verbally abusive, he had complied with the instructions of the flight crew.
Qassem Soleimani, who was Iran’s most hyped general, loved publishing “selfies” showing himself close to battlegrounds in the Middle East. He was never present anywhere near a battle but was always to come after the dust had settled, to take “selfies” and claim the credit. (Photo by Mehdi Ghasemi/ISNA/AFP via Getty Images)
While analysts and policymakers are busy speculating on ways that Tehran’s ruling mullahs might avenge the killing of their most hyped general, the real question that needs considering may be elsewhere.
The question is: what effect Soleimani’s death might have on the power struggle that, though currently put on hold, is certain to resume with greater vigor in Tehran.
Tehran’s propaganda tries to sell Soleimani as a kind of superman who, almost single-handedly, brought Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and parts of Afghanistan and Yemen under Iranian control while driving Americans out of the Middle East and crushing ISIS’s so-called Caliphate which tried to rival the Islamic Republic in Tehran. Soleimani himself did a lot to promote that image and, doing that, received much help from Western, especially American, and Israeli media that bought the bundle of goods from Tehran.
Facts, however, offer a different portrait of the late general. Soleimani joined the Islamic revolution in 1980, aged 27, at a time that the mullahs were busy putting together a praetorian guard to protect their new regime. A few months later, the ragtag army that Soleimani had joined was sent to help the remnants of a heavily purged national army fight an invading Iraqi force. With over 8,000 officers and NCOs of the national army purged by Khomeini, the new regime offered a fast track to people like Soleimani who had joined the military with no proper training and often little or no formal education. Thus, just three years after he had joined the military, young Soleimani found himself in command of a division of raw recruits. Under his command, Iranian forces suffered three of their biggest defeats in operations Al-Fajr 8, and Karbala I and Karbala II. Mohsen Reza’i, then chief of the Revolutionary Guard, describes the three battles as “a string of catastrophes” for Iranian forces.
However, Soleimani, who was to demonstrate his genius for networking and self-promotion, scored one lasting victory when he attached himself to Ali Khamenei, the mullah who was to become the Islamic Republic’s “Supreme Guide”.
Khamenei started as Deputy Defense Minister and rose to become President of the Islamic Republic. Soleimani, mocked as “the mullah’s bag-carrier”, was always at his side. In the 1990s, as Khamenei slowly built himself as the sole arbiter of Iran’s fate, Soleimani seized the opportunity to secure a fiefdom for himself.
That came in the shape of the project to “export” the Iranian Revolution to other Muslim countries. Initially, exporting the revolution, mentioned in the regime’s constitution as a sacred duty, had been regarded as a matter of propaganda and organizing sympathizers in Arab countries through outfits named Hezbollah. The task was handled by a special office in the Foreign Ministry headed by Ayatollah Hadi Khosroshahian. Partly thanks to lobbying by Soleimani, the task was taken away from the Foreign Ministry and handed over to the Revolutionary Guard. But even then Soleimani didn’t get the top job, which went to then Col. Ismail Qaani, the man who has now succeeded Soleimani as Commander of the Quds Force. Soleimani’s next move was to dislodge Qaani and get the top job himself. (Qaani was named as deputy). Even that configuration would not satisfy Soleimani, who had bigger ambitions. As long as he was part of the IRGC’s chain of command, he had to obey rules set by superiors whom he despised.
Thanks to Khamenei’s support, he succeeded in securing his independent fiefdom in the shape of the Quds Force which, though formally part of the IRGC, has its own separate budget and chain of command and is answerable to no one but Khamenei.
Next, Soleimani seized control of Tehran’s foreign policy in Arab countries, Afghanistan, North Korea, and South America and, in some sensitive areas, even Russia. The Islamic Republic’s presidents and foreign ministers have never had tête-à-tête talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Soleimani had.
It became a matter of routine for Soleimani to appoint Iran’s ambassadors to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Doha and several other Arab capitals.
A dramatic illustration of Soleimani’s “independence” came when he shipped Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad to Tehran in a special airplane without even telling the Iranian president, let alone the foreign minister, who were also excluded from the Syrian’s audience with Khamenei.
A control freak, Soleimani insisted on deciding even the smallest details himself. In his one, and now final, interview, last November, the general talks of how Lebanese Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah had to clear every move with him.
Inside Iran, Soleimani built a state within the state. According to the Islamic Customs Office, the Quds Force operates 25 jetties in five of Iran’s biggest ports for its “imports and exports” with no intervention by the relevant authorities. A levy on imports of foreign cars is reserved for a special fund, controlled by the Quds Force, to cover expenditures in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and help pro-Iran Palestinian groups.
Soleimani had his own network of lobbyists in many Arab countries and some Western democracies. Hundreds of Iranian and Arab militants have enrolled in Western universities with scholarships from the Quds Force.
The Quds Force has registered vast tracts of public land in its name, claiming the need for future housing for its personnel. It also runs two dozen companies and banks, several shipping lines and an airline.
Soleimani, who loved making and publishing “selfies” showing himself close to battlegrounds in the Middle East, was never present anywhere near a battle but was always to come after the dust had settled, to take “selfies” and claim the credit.
A master of self-promotion, Soleimani received the rank of major-general without having risen through the hierarchy of the top brass like the other 12 men on the list. (After death, he has been promoted to Lt. General).
Some analysts in Tehran believe that Khamenei was planning to promote Soleimani further by making him President of the Islamic Republic in 2021. An image-building campaign started last year, as Soleimani was marketed as “the Sufi commander”, a label given to Safavid kings in the 16th century.
A committee of exiled Iranians in Florida also started campaigning to draft Soleimani as president.
If that was Khamenei’s game plan, there is no doubt that Soleimani’s demise will lead to more uncertainty regarding the future course of Iranian politics.
Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. He is the Chairman of Gatestone Europe.
This article was originally published by Asharq al-Awsat and is reprinted by kind permission of the author.
TEHRAN: A Ukrainian airliner carrying at least 170 people crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday, killing all on board, Iran state media reported.
The Boeing 737 had left Tehran’s international airport bound for Kiev, semi-official news agency ISNA said.
“Obviously it is impossible that passengers” on flight PS-752 are alive, Red Crescent head Morteza Salimi told semi-official news agency ISNA, adding that 170 passengers and crew had boarded the plane.
State news agency IRNA said 167 passengers and nine crew members had boarded the aircraft, which was operated by Ukraine International Airlines.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed all those on board the plane were killed.
“According to preliminary data, all passengers and crew members are dead,” he wrote on Facebook of the Ukraine International Airlines plane, which was bound for Kiev.
The Red Crescent said teams were assisted by soldiers and firefighters in the effort to recover bodies.
“After six o’clock (0230 GMT) this morning we were informed that a passenger plane crashed in the vicinity of Shahriar,” said Shahin Fathi, the head of its search and rescue unit.
“All operational teams were dispatched to the area,” he told state television. “Unfortunately… we haven’t found anyone alive.”
“Everyone is helping so that we can gather all the bodies that have been scattered in a wide area,” said Fathi.
Press TV, state television’s English-language news broadcaster, said the plane went down in the vicinity of Parand, a city in Tehran province.
The crash was likely to have been caused by “technical difficulties”, it reported, citing Ali Khashani, spokesman for Imam Khomeini International Airport.
“The plane caught fire after crashing,” said Press TV.
A video aired by the state media broadcaster appeared to show the plane already on fire, falling from the sky.
American airline manufacturer Boeing tweeted: “We are aware of the media reports out of Iran and we are gathering more information.”
The crash came shortly after Iran said it fired missiles at Iraqi bases in revenge for the killing of one of the Islamic republic’s top military commanders in a US drone strike on Friday.
Following the missile strikes, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was banning US-registered carriers from flying over Iraq, Iran and the Gulf after rocket attacks on US forces in Iraq.
“The (FAA) issues Notices to Airmen tonight outlining flight restrictions that prohibit US civil aviation operators from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman,” it said in a statement.
“The FAA will continue closely monitoring events in the Middle East.”
Iran launched the missiles after a US drone strike killed Qasem Soleimani, a hugely popular figure who headed the foreign operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed “severe revenge” for the assassination and declared three days of mourning following the assassination which shocked the Islamic republic.
The assassination of Soleimani set off an escalating war of words between Iran and the US.
In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani on Monday warned Trump to “never threaten” Iran, after the US leader issued a US strike list of 52 targets in the Islamic republic. -AFP
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A mum stabbed her 23-month-old son to death after she suffered a mental breakdown triggered by her bullying and cheating Ryanair pilot fiancé.
Former flight attendant Magda Lesicka, 33, was subjected to relentless psychological torment by Peter Chilvers, a flight captain with the budget airline, as she felt trapped in the toxic relationship, a court heard.
Lesicka, who met Chilvers while also working for the Dublin-based carrier, inflicted a sustained attack on their son, James Chilvers, at her home in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester, on August 26, 2017.
She tried to kill herself after knifing the boy multiple times.
Chilvers had inflicted a campaign of cruelty against Lesicka, forcing her into degrading sexual acts and into eating hairs he plucked from his head, while he had an affair with another flight attendant, Lisa Spencer, who is now his partner and mother to his two young daughters.
Lesicka, a Polish national, was jailed for 15 years last year after she pleaded guilty to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, the Manchester Evening News reports.
She was sentenced on the basis that her mental illness emerged suddenly and without any warning, and she had no memory of committing the offence.
Chilvers, 33, from Northwich, Cheshire, denied any wrongdoing and subsequently went on trial at Manchester Crown Court where a jury convicted him last month of controlling or coercive behaviour.
Reporting restrictions were lifted on the case on Thursday as Chilvers was jailed for 18 months, allowing the facts to be reported for the first time.
The former couple were dealt with in separate hearings.
Chilvers, originally from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, returned home from a flight to Tenerife in the early hours when Lesicka fell injured into his arms, the court heard.
As he rushed her to hospital he had no idea she had killed James.
Police found the toddler dead in an upstairs bedroom at the family home after concern was raised for him.
At Lesicka’s sentencing hearing in Preston in July last year, the court heard she suffered “deliberate, relentless and ultimately overwhelming psychological torment”.
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Chilvers was violent towards her, repeatedly threatened to kill her if she removed their son from his care, carried out bizarre acts of cruelty, isolated her from her friends and restricted her finances.
On one occasion, he squeezed her nose tightly so she couldn’t breathe.
He also nicknamed her “sheep” and referred to himself as a “sheep owner”, the court heard, while Lesicka told the jury the pilot would pick errant hairs from his forehead and force her to swallow them.
He demanded they continue to live together at a new home he bought in the Cheshire village of Wincham, jurors heard.
The pilot warned her in a “visceral” 33-minute phone call – played in court – on August 26 that she did not have the financial resources to win a custody battle and shouted: “I want James to have brothers and sisters… not a half-brother and sister with a f***ing moron that you find.”
The pilot had downloaded an app on to his mobile phone which enabled him to record his calls.
The court heard Lesicka had been planning to leave Chilvers in the days before she killed their son.
The couple had been in relationship since 2010 but Chilvers cheated on Lesicka from 2014 with another Ryanair cabin crew member.
Her fear of him was revealed in court, which heard Lesicka made internet searches about “taser UK law”, “self defence weapons UK” and “killing in self defence” in the days before James’ death. She later contacted domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid.
Lesicka phoned Greater Manchester Police and two police officers were sent to her address on August 25 where she showed them bruises to her arms and thigh.
She was informed the next day – the day of the killing – that Chilvers would be arrested after he flew back to the UK and a scared Lesicka said she did not want that to happen.
However she was told it was police policy to take positive action over such allegations.
The Crown accepted Lesicka’s defence that she killed James following a breakdown induced by the “deliberate, relentless and ultimately overwhelming psychological torment” inflicted by Chilvers who had portrayed a “landscape of unending misery if she did not comply with his demands”.
Sentencing, Mr Justice Dove told Lesicka: “As a tragic, innocent victim he (James) was caught, caught between two warring parents.
“Whatever the rights and wrongs of that dispute, the last thing that should have happened was that he should have lost his life – killed by a parent.”
At Manchester Crown Court last month, Chilvers was found guilty of controlling or coercive behaviour between December 2015 and August 2017, as well as counts of common assault and damaging property.
The trial heard that Chilvers had been violent towards his partner after finding out she had had an abortion without telling him.
Rob Hall, prosecuting, told Chilvers’ trial: “(Lesicka) could not cope with being trapped in an abusive, humiliating and dishonest relationship with the father of her son.”
He said Chilvers’s intention may have been to aid any forthcoming legal proceedings over his son’s future but instead he had inadvertently confirmed his “bullying, controlling, self-centred nature”.
Lesicka had described their relationship as a “living hell”.
Chilvers told her he wanted to stay with her for their son’s sake.
Police had told Lesicka that they would arrest Chilvers on the night of August 26, 2017, once he returned home following a flight from Tenerife.
But she begged the force not to arrest him and to just log her complaint.
Lesicka killed James the night that police said they would arrest Chilvers.
Her solicitor, Timothy Roberts QC, told the court that pressure “had caused her crack”.
When she was sentenced, Mr Justice Dove told her: “James Chilvers was not quite two years old when he was brutally stabbed to death by you.
“It was a sustained attack with a knife in which multiple blows were struck whilst he was on his bed at home.
“There was no conceivable outcome other than he would be killed.
“His unique presence in the world was taken from us.
“Who knows what he might have grown up to achieve?”
Speaking of her mental illness, Lesicka’s barrister Mr Roberts said: “It was not a condition that had been previously diagnosed.
“It was not a condition that was wilfully exacerbated by the defendant.
“The significant feature of this case is this accused has never had any mental health difficulties at all in her life.
“The onset of this particular abnormality was very rapid and sudden.
“It was induced by the deliberate, relentless and ultimately overwhelming psychological torment inflicted on her by Peter Chilvers.
If you qualify for Bank of America Preferred Rewards, the Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ Visa®️ credit card has the potential to be quite a lucrative card to use on everyday spending. For those who prefer other banks, there are better earning travel cards available. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
I’ll be honest. I haven’t always been a fan of Bank of America credit cards. Though affordable with low or nonexistent annual fees, most lacked the perks that I’ve always associated with my favorite cards. However, the more familiar I get with the Preferred Banking Rewards program (and the more useful fixed-value points currencies become), the more I see the benefits of having a Bank of America card.
This card isn’t like other products that have $450 annual fees and a ton of perks; this card has a modest $95 annual fee and a more modest selection of benefits. Still, it offers great flexibility in redeeming points and yields extraordinary earn rates if you can maximize BofA’s Preferred Banking Rewards program.
In This Post
Who is this card for?
The Premium Rewards credit card has wide appeal to both points fans and credit card novices. It might not have the most lucrative points or numerous transfer partners, but what it does offer is flexibility.
I think of it as a stress-free travel card, since points are worth 1 cent apiece no matter what you redeem them for — you don’t have to worry about getting the maximum value out of every point, which can sometimes be time-consuming and frustrating.
If you like the idea of redeeming your points as a statement credit against big purchases that aren’t covered by points — such as new luggage or a TV — then this would be the card to get. You can redeem points for any purchase, whether it’s a flight, a new car or an over-the-top dinner. The points function essentially like cash.
The Premium Rewards card is also a strong option for those who tend to spend in broad bonus categories like travel and dining (2x and up with this card), but who also want solid rewards (1.5x and up) for non-category bonus spend.
The earning rate is even better if you’re already a Bank of America customer and can maximize the Preferred Rewards Program (more on that later).
It’s also a great choice for semi-frequent travelers since it comes with valuable perks like an up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, an up to $100 airline credit, trip delay/cancellation insurance, baggage loss/delay insurance and no foreign transaction fees, so you won’t be hit with any surprise charges when using your card abroad.
With the Premium Rewards card, you’ll receive 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. These points have a fixed value of 1 cent each, meaning that 50,000 points are worth $500. This far from the most lucrative bonus out there, but $500 can go a long way towards airfare, hotel costs or anything in between.
When you consider that BofA is essentially paying you $5 every year (after you redeem the up to $100 airline credit) to have this card, you’re basically getting $500 for free just for signing up and meeting the minimum spend. Use the sign-up bonus to treat yourself to something extravagant, like a helicopter or private jet ride on Blade.
While Bank of America doesn’t have any published restrictions that apply specifically to earning welcome bonuses, remember that it does have a 2/3/4 rule when it comes to card applications. You can only get approved for two Bank of America cards in a two-month period, three cards in a 12-month period and four cards in a 24-month period.
There have also been recent reports of a threshold similar to Chase’s 5/24 rule that limits how many cards across issuers you can get within a year in order to be approved for a new BoA card, though the exact threshold is uncertain and Bank of America has not confirmed the existence of a set policy.
Perks and benefits
While the Premium Rewards card doesn’t hold a candle to top-tier cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, it does come with a nice set of perks for the low annual fee — a lot more than basically any other mid-tier card out there. Here are my favorite perks and their value:
$100 airline incidental credit. This credit works like the Amex airline fee credit in that you can only use it for purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services and lounge fees (though not airfare). You receive the credit every year and if you’re able to use the full amount, you’re essentially getting paid $5 a year to be a cardholder. Unfortunately, it’s not as flexible as the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit or the Citi Prestige’s air travel credit, but it’s still a great benefit for someone who travels a few times a year. It only works on certain domestic airlines but it’s processed automatically, so you don’t have to call in and apply it to a certain purchase.
Global Entry. I love having Global Entry — it’s saved me from standing in countless hours of security and customs lines. Premium Rewards cardmembers get an up to $100 credit (every four years) that can be applied toward purchasing Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. It’s surprising that this card offers a Global Entry credit, as that’s usually only offered by top-tier rewards cards with higher annual fees (although the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is another mid-tier card that offers this benefit). And if you’re already part of the program, you can still use the credit for a friend or family member’s application.
Trip insurance. It’s always important to have trip insurance since you never know when your travel plans will go awry. This card provides reimbursement of up to $5,000 per person, per trip, for any unused, prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses including passenger fares, tours and hotels if you have to cancel due to a covered reason. And if your flight is delayed for more than 12 hours, you’re eligible for reimbursement of $500 in expenses per ticket. With many issuers ditching trip insurance, this benefit continues to be a compelling reason to use this card to book travel.
Baggage delay/loss insurance: Similar to trip insurance, you’ll be eligible for protection if your baggage is lost, stolen or damaged. This provides up to $100 per day (up to five days) when your bag is delayed for more than six hours. If your luggage is stolen or lost by a travel provider, you’ll be eligible for reimbursement for the contents of the bag.
Purchase protection. I’ve used purchased protection many times and it’s saved me thousands of dollars over the last year — Amex paid me $1,400 for a broken watch and my Sapphire Reserve reimbursed me $2,600 for a painting that was damaged in transit. You’ll get similar protection with the Premium Rewards card, which will repair, replace or reimburse you up to $10,000 for lost or damaged items purchased on the card. If you want to return an item within 90 days of purchase but the retailer won’t accept the return, you can submit your receipt and be reimbursed up to $250 (up to $1,000 annually).
Rental car insurance. Last, this card will give you secondary coverage when renting a car — meaning it will kick in only after you’ve filed a claim with your personal insurance. While not as good as many of Chase’s cards that offer primary coverage, it’s pretty good for a no-annual fee card (after maximizing the airline credit).
With this card, you’re earning 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x point on everything else. Travel and dining are defined broadly, meaning there are a lot of expenses that can qualify for double points. The real value for me personally is the 1.5x on everyday spending. As a member of the Preferred Rewards program, you can earn up an impressive 2.625x on non-bonus spending. That’s higher than any flat-rate card out there.
The Premium Rewards card doesn’t earn traditional points or miles that can be transferred and redeemed with travel partners but rather acts more like a cash-back card with huge earning potential. I honestly never thought I’d be thinking about cash back, but as airlines have devalued frequent flyer programs, the idea seems more appealing.
Although we value most airline miles at more than 1 cent each, that’s mainly based on being able to find premium cabin saver seats. With it becoming harder and harder to get good value out of points and miles, that’s where this card can come in handy.
As I mentioned earlier, points are flexible with the Premium Rewards card; you can use them on anything — airlines, the gym, etc. — essentially anywhere that accepts Visa. Your points can go toward paying for those purchases (as a statement credit) and the credit posts automatically.
Another thing I like about this card is that it’s zero stress and consumes very little time. You don’t need to jump through hoops to find award availability and you don’t have to go to a specific portal if you want to use your points to pay for your gym. Since points are worth the same no matter what you redeem for, you’re not penalized for redeeming for cash back. You just redeem for whatever you want.
There a few ways to redeem points:
Cash back — You can receive cash back as a statement credit or deposit it into an eligible BofA checking or savings, Merrill or 529 college savings account
Travel purchases — You can book flights directly through the BofA travel portal. This is a good way to redeem points because you’ll still be eligible to earn award miles and elite credits by flying on a paid ticket (although personally I’d recommend buying directly from the carrier because sometimes when buying through a travel portal you’ll get a lower fare class).
Gift cards — A final option allows for converting points into gift cards at popular merchants such as Amazon, Whole Foods and Starbucks. I wouldn’t plan on going this route since it’d be smarter to just purchase the items and redeem your points as a statement credit in case you have to return the item.
I especially love that you can convert points directly into cash that can go straight into a 529 college savings account. Last year, I converted the points from my sign-up bonus and deposited them directly into 529 accounts for my nieces and nephews. From there, I used my points as statement credits against BLADE trips to my office, which saved me hours of time.
And if you’re solely focused on travel rewards, this card can cover travel expenses that you can’t redeem miles for, like offsetting surcharges on an award ticket or amazing experiences on the ground.
Originally when I heard that points were worth only 1 cent each, I was a bit disappointed. But it’s honestly nice that I don’t have to jump through hoops to find award availability and I don’t have to feel bad about redeeming these points for maximum value. I can use them whenever and for whatever I want.
Using the Preferred Rewards program to your advantage
To get the best value out of your Bank of America cards, you need to understand Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. Those who hold considerable assets in eligible BofA or Merrill accounts — including retirement or investment accounts — are eligible for increased rewards when spending on the Premium Rewards card. To enroll in BofA Preferred Rewards you’ll need:
An eligible Bank of America personal checking account anda3-month average combined balance of $20,000 or more in a Bank of America account and/or Merrill investment accounts.
There are three tiers in Preferred Rewards, and your tier is based on how much money you have in your accounts. This will determine your earning with the Premium Rewards card.
Tier 1 – Gold ($20,000 – $50,000)
Tier 2 – Platinum ($50,000 – $100,000)
Tier 3 – Platinum Honors ($100,000+)
At the base level of 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x points on everything else, the card is pretty standard. It’s good, but the Citi® Double Cash Card and Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Cardare cash-back cards with higher earning rates on everyday spend and no annual fees (though those cards don’t come with any perks).
But the numbers get pretty spectacular when you’re able to get 2.625x points on everyday spend and 3.5x points if you meet the highest banking threshold. That said, I’ll still probably put most of my travel and dining spend on my Sapphire Reserve because I value Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each — meaning I get 6x points (toward travel per dollar spent). But 3.5x points back on travel and dining and 2.625x points on everything else for those who don’t value travel as much as I do — and want flexibility when redeeming points — is quite strong.
The way I see it is that if you can maximize Preferred Rewards, you’re essentially getting a no-annual-fee card (after using the airline credit) that gives you 3.5x on travel and dining and 2.625x on everything else. If you’re looking for a straight cash-back card, no other card comes close to that.
The moment I heard of this card, I immediately moved $100,000 into a Merrill investment account so I could start qualifying for Platinum Honors. BofA also allows the option to roll over an existing 401(k) account into a Merrill retirement account, so that this could be an easy way to qualify for Preferred Rewards.
In general, this card is about diversifying your stock of points and using them for the purchases that normal airline miles or credit card points can’t cover. It’s great if you want to use your points to splurge on a crazy watch or piece of jewelry. Or you can be generous and use the points to better your family.
It’s also an interesting option for small business owners — I know a lot of doctors and executives, and at a certain point there is mileage overload where they have too many Amex points and physically can’t redeem all of them for travel (because that is the best way to redeem MR points). So if you own your own business, this card can offer 2.625x points on all of your spend and 3.5x points on all travel and dining, which you can easily redeem for cold hard cash.
For those who have been eyeing a straight-up cash-back card, this could be your best option. Simply put, it’ll be improving your bottom line — either for you personally or for your business. You don’t have to waste time figuring out how to get the most value out of your points, as the stress-free redemptions make this an easy card to manage.
BofA is obviously telling customers that they will be rewarded with its Preferred Rewards program if they move their assets to BofA. On top of the earning and redeeming possibilities, it comes with a solid sign-up bonus and some pretty nice perks, which are worth far more than the card’s annual fee. For these reasons, I continue to be excited to have status with Preferred Rewards banking and the Bank of America®️ Premium Rewards®️ Visa®️ credit card in my wallet.