2018 Bank of America Travel Rewards Card Review
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The Verdict: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is a very good option for people with excellent credit who want to reduce the cost of travel without paying an annual fee. But it’s only a truly great choice for fairly low-spending Bank of America banking customers with a lot of cash saved (Bank of America is a WalletHub partner).
The party starts with a 20,000-point initial rewards bonus, worth $200 in travel, when you spend $1,000 or more within 90 days of opening your account. That’s well above average for a card offering a points-based bonus. Still, if you’re someone who spends $1,000 per month, rather than every three months, you can get at least twice as much dollar value from competing offers.
The Bank of America Travel Rewards Card’s points keep on coming, at a rate of 1.5 per $1 spent on all purchases, all the time. That’s nearly 30% more than you’d get from the average credit card with points. And the gap is even bigger if you have a Bank of America checking or savings account. That boosts your earning rate to at least 1.65 points per $1 spent, and it could be as high as 2.62 points per $1 if you have a big bank account balance.
This card has other virtues, too, including a 0% introductory purchase APR for the first 12 billing cycles. But its rewards are the real story. You can learn more below.
20,000-Point Initial Bonus: You only need to spend $1,000 during the first 90 days your account is open to qualify for this bounty. That’s 20% back when you redeem for travel. The average rewards card offers over 5,000 fewer points, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report.
- 5 Points per $1 Spent on Purchases: That equals 1.5% back in the form of free travel. In other words, you get $150 in travel for every $1,000 you spend. The average credit cards with points gives you just 1.17 per $1.
Banking Bonuses: Just having a Bank of America checking or savings account gets you 10% more points on purchases. You can also join Bank of America Preferred Rewards if you have at least $20,000 in such an account, or a Merrill Lynch investment account. Among other benefits, that increases your 10% bonus to 25% - 75%, depending on your exact balance.
Flexible Travel Rewards Redemption: You can use your Bank of America Travel Rewards points to pay for any travel-related purchases that you charge to the account. In other words, you don’t have to book your travel accommodations with points; you can use them to pay your credit card bill after the fact. In fact, you have 12 months from when you make a travel purchase to use your points to cover the cost.
Whether a given purchase qualifies as travel-related depends on the merchant’s category code. However, all major travel providers count. That includes airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and even taxis/ride-sharing services and vacation-home-rental services. More and more travel rewards cards are adopting this approach, and consumers definitely benefit from the flexibility.
- $0 Annual Fee: This saves you $15.55 per year compared to the average credit card. Not having to worry about an annual fee is especially important for people who don’t plan to use their new credit card regularly or for all of their spending.
- $0 Foreign Transaction Fee: A travel rewards credit card that charges you extra for traveling abroad would be pretty disappointing. Thankfully, the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card doesn’t let you down in that regard.
Requires Excellent Credit: The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card would be much more appealing if more people could get it. Instead, you need a credit score of 750 or higher to have a good chance of being approved. It might be more successful, too. People with excellent credit have their pick of the best rewards credit cards on the market, and the travel rewards space is very competitive, with lots of great offers available.
You can check your latest credit score for free on WalletHub to gauge your odds of qualifying for Bank of America Travel Rewards.
- Very High Regular APR: You are guaranteed to pay interest at an above-average rate if you carry a balance from month to month with this card when its regular APR is in effect. After all, the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card requires excellent credit for approval; the average credit card for people with excellent credit has a 13.98% APR; and the Travel Rewards Card’s APR range is 16.74% to 24.74% Variable, depending on your overall creditworthiness.
Other Things to Consider
0% Purchase APR for 12 Billing Cycles: This is a solid offer, giving you two more interest-free months than the average 0% credit card. But it’s in the middle of the pack among offers for people with excellent credit.
Tip: You can get the best deal overall by using a 0% credit card to finance big-ticket purchases and a rewards credit card to make purchases you can pay for in full by the due date. It’s called the Island Approach.
- Non-Travel Redemption Options Give Less Value: In addition to redeeming for a travel statement credit, you can also cash in your points more literally. You can exchange them for gift cards or a cash reward (i.e. a bank account deposit or a non-travel statement credit). But instead of being worth a penny apiece, as is the case when you redeem for travel, Bank of America Travel Rewards points yield just over half as much ($0.006) when you redeem them for cash. And with gift cards, point values vary.
- Minimum Redemption Requirements: You need at least 2,500 points to redeem for a travel statement credit or cash reward. And you need at least 3,125 point for a gift card.
Compared to the Competition
Excellent credit puts you in a position of power when shopping for a credit card. Issuers clearly want your business, judging by the many great deals available to people with excellent scores, including big rewards bonuses and long 0% interest periods. Settling, in other words, can be costly.
To help you confirm you’ve found the best credit card for your needs, we’ve compared the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card to some of its top competitors in key categories.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
|Annual Fee||$0||$0||$0||$0||$0 for 1st yr, $95 after|
|Rewards Bonus||20,000 points||20,000 miles||10,000 points||$150||50,000 miles|
|Rewards Rate||1.5 points / $1||1.25 miles / $1||1 - 2 points / $1||1.5% Cash Back||2 miles / $1|
|Purchase Intro APR||0% for 12 billing cycles||0% for 12 months||0% for 15 months||0% for 15 months||Not Offered|
|Transfer Intro APR||Not Offered||Not Offered||0% for 15 months|
Transfer Fee: $0 for the first 60 days
|0% for 15 months|
Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
|Regular APR||16.74% - 24.74% Variable||13.74% - 23.74% (V)||14.74% - 25.74% (V)||16.74% - 25.49% (V)||14.74% - 24.74% (V)|
|Editors’ Rating||4.2 / 5||4.5 / 5||5.0 / 5||4.5 / 5||5.0 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
Rates & Fees
|Learn More||Learn More|
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