Two subspecies are recognized for Bangsia arcaei (Dickinson and Christidis 2014).
Bangsia arcaei arcaei - See Detailed Description. This subspecies occurs in western Panama, in the provinces of Bocas del Toro and Chiriquí, east to Coclé, in the vicinity of Cerro Jefe and Cerro Brewster (Isler and Isler 1987).
Bangsia arcaei caeruleigularis - This subspecies differs from the nominate race by having dark navy blue sides, flanks, and thighs, instead of dusky sides and bright yellow flanks and thighs. Subspecies caeruleigularis is distributed primarily on the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica from southeastern Guanacaste south to Cartago (Hilty 2011).
Until recently, Blue-and-gold Tanager was not known to occur in the Cordillera de Talamanca in southern Costa Rica (Stiles and Skutch 1989). There are recent sight records from this region, but it is not known to which subspecies these might refer.
Molecular phylogenetics has recovered the genus Bangsia as monophyletic with strong support (Burns et al. 2014). Within Bangsia, arcaei was recovered as sister to all other Bangsia species (B. melanochlamys Black-and-gold Tanager, B. rothschildi Golden-chested Tanager, B. edwardsi Moss-backed Tanager, and B. aureocincta Gold-ringed Tanager). The genus Bangsia was recovered as sister to the genus Wetmorethraupis, also with strong support (Burns et al. 2014). Molecular phylogenetics has consistently recovered Bangsia within a clade of tanagers largely restricted to the Andes, including the genera Wetmorethraupis, Pipraeidea, and Iridosornis (Sedano and Burns 2010, Burns et al. 2014). That Bangsia arcaei is found in southern Central America, sister to all Andean Bangsia species, and that this genus is nested in a largely Andean radiation of tanagers, suggests a northwestern South American origin for the species and diversification into Central America (Sedano and Burns 2010). Molecular divergence between the two subspecies of B. arcaei has not been tested, and should be the focus of future research.