Review: Bank of America’s New Travel Rewards Credit Cards
It seems like Bank of America really meant that advertising tagline, “Think What We Can Do For You.” The bank on May 8, 2012 launched three new travel rewards credit cards – the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card, the BankAmericard Privileges with Travel Rewards Credit Card, and the WorldPoints Travel Rewards for Business Visa Credit Card – ostensibly to fulfill the desire of consumers who want easy-to-use travel rewards.
“Our customers told us they wanted a travel card that gave them the flexibility to use points for travel-related expenses without a lot of hoops to jump through,” said Susan Faulkner, an executive with Bank of America’s Consumer and Small Business Products division, in a statement. “With these new travel cards, customers can earn reward points faster and can choose any airline, hotel or other travel provider for their travel plans.”
More specifically, both the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card and the WorldPoints Travel Rewards Business Card offer 1.5 points per dollar spent across all purchases and neither charges an annual fee. The Privileges Card, on the other hand, charges a $75 annual fee starting in the second year in return for giving you 2 points per dollar spent on purchases. Bank of America will waive this annual fee for cardholders who maintain at least $50,000 in deposits or investments with the company.
It also pays to have a Bank of America bank account, as that scores users of the two general-consumer cards a 10% annual rewards bonus. Don’t worry, though, that’s not the extent of the bonus rewards available through these new BankAmericards. Both the Travel Rewards Card and the Privileges Card with Travel Rewards offer 10,000 bonus points for spending at least $500 during the first 90 days, and the WorldPoints Card provides 5,000 bonus points after your first purchase.
When it comes to redeeming these rewards, the new BankAmericards incorporate a redemption process reminiscent of the extremely popular Venture Card from Capital One. Cardholders simply pay for travel purchases with their cards and then redeem points for the resulting charges that appear on their statements, rather than having to book their travel plans through a specific company. This presents a significant opportunity for savings given that consumers can utilize travel comparison websites like Kayak and Priceline in order to find the best deals, rather than being subject to the often marked-up rates and fares common with company-specific rewards programs.
International travelers don’t have to worry about incurring extraneous costs on transactions processed outside the United States either. All three of the new BankAmericards are no foreign transaction credit cards, which means they do not charge the 2-3% fees for international use that are part of more than 90% of credit card offers, according to WalletHub data.
As far as interest rates are concerned, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card offers 0% on new purchases for 12 months, the Privileges Card does not offer a 0% introductory rate, and the business WorldPoints Card offers a 0% purchase APR for 9 months.
Now that we know what these cards offer, it’s time to determine how they stack up against the competition.
Unfortunately, even though the new Bank of America miles credit cards are good offers, when it comes to heavy rewards spenders, they won’t be able to unseat Capital One as the dominant issuer in this space, as you can see from the table below.
BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card
||10,000 points||1.5 points/$1 spent||None|
BankAmericard Privileges with Travel Rewards Credit Card
||10,000 points||2 points/$1 spent||None 1st year ($75 thereafter)|
|Capital One Venture Card||40,000 miles||2 miles/$1 spent||None 1st year ($59 thereafter)|
WorldPoints Travel Rewards for Business Visa
||5,000 points||1.5 points/$1 spent||None|
Capital One Spark Miles for Business
||50,000||2 miles/$1 spent||None 1st year ($59 thereafter)|
There are, of course, caveats to this conclusion. First of all, if you won’t spend enough to accrue the miles needed to counteract the Venture Card’s annual fee, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card is a better option. In addition, the WorldPoints Business Card is a pretty good all-around option for small business owners intent on using one credit card for both funding and everyday spending. BofA is the only major issuer to have yet extended the CARD Act rule prohibiting arbitrary interest rate increases to its business credit cards, you see.
All in all, yesterday was a big day for Bank of America and all travel rewards enthusiasts!
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