Friday, June 9, 2023

    Bank of America Travel Rewards Review

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    Earn 1.5 points per dollar on all spending. Redeem points for credit on your statement against any travel or restaurant purchase.

    Full Review

    The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is an excellent option for frequent travelers who want flexible rewards but just can’t bring themselves to pay an annual fee for a credit card.

    Cardholders earn an unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases. Rewards never expire as long as the account is open, but some of the redemption options have a time limit attached (more on that later). Points can be redeemed for credit against any travel or restaurant purchase. With no foreign transaction fees and a $0 annual fee, this card definitely travels light.

    Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Basics

    Annual fee: $0.

    Sign-up bonus: 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases..


    • 1.5 points per dollar spent.
    • 3 points per dollar spent on eligible travel booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center.

    Points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for travel or restaurant purchases and a little over half a cent apiece for cash. Points can also be redeemed for gift cards at varying point values. Minimum redemption: 2,500 points for travel or cash.

    Interest rate: See Terms. (A 0% APR period is relatively rare on a travel card.)

    Foreign transaction fees: None.

    Key benefits of the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

    Flexible rewards

    The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card isn’t tied to any particular airline or hotel chain. Book travel any way you want, with no restrictions and no blackout dates, and then use points to wipe out the cost on your statement. Bank of America® also has one of the broadest definitions of “travel” of any major issuers. You can use points to get credit for airfare, hotel stays, cruises and car rentals, of course — but also for things like campgrounds, art galleries, amusement parks, carnivals, circuses, aquariums and zoos. Add to that, points are good for credit on restaurant purchases, too.

    Points don’t expire, but the travel and dining purchases you can redeem them for have a time limit. You can redeem points for a statement credit toward travel or dining purchases made within 12 months prior to the date of redemption. And, these redemptions are limited to the most recent 2,500 qualifying travel and dining purchases.

    Travel-friendly features

    As part of the Visa network, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card travels well internationally. Visa is widely accepted worldwide, meaning you’re less likely to run into trouble using it abroad. You also don’t have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees, which typically cost 1% to 3% of every transaction.

    Opportunities for higher rewards

    Unlike most flat-rate cards, you have the opportunity to earn higher rewards with the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent — twice the card’s usual rate — at the Bank of America® Travel Center. And if you’re a Bank of America® Preferred Rewards member, you can earn higher rewards rates, described below.

    Preferred Rewards boosts earnings

    The Preferred Rewards program allows certain Bank of America® credit card holders to earn bonus rewards. If you have enough money in combined balances in Merrill accounts, you can earn bonuses of 25% or more. There are three tiers to the program, determined by your combined balances in those bank and investment accounts:

    Preferred Rewards statusRewards bonusPoints per dollar spentPoints per dollar spent at Bank of America® Travel Center
    None (no accounts, or combined balances below $20,000)None1.53
    Gold (combined balances of $20,000 to $49,999)25%1.8753.75
    Platinum (combined balances of $50,000 to $99,999)50%2.254.5
    Platinum Honors (combined balances of $100,000 or more)75%2.6255.25

    Say you spent $10,000 on your card in a year. That would usually earn you 15,000 points, worth $150 at a penny a point. If you were a Gold member in Preferred Rewards, your bonus would push your earnings to 18,750 points ($187.50). If you were Platinum, 22,500 points ($225). For Platinum Honors, 26,250 ($262.50).

    Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Drawbacks

    The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is a great $0-fee travel companion, but depending on how much you spend and how you prefer to redeem, a different card might better suit you.

    Other cards pay higher rewards rates

    Bigger spenders will likely get more value from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, which earns 2 miles per dollar spent on most purchases. Like the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, it allows you to redeem rewards for credit against travel expenses at a rate of 1 cent per mile.

    The annual fee on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is $95. The rewards offset the fee if you spend more than $4,750 annually. Once you spend more than $19,000 a year, your rewards exceed those on the Bank of America® card even after taking into account the annual fee. Reducing the sting of the fee even further, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card also reimburses you for the application cost for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, and it offers a substantially higher sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

    You get a lower redemption value for cash

    The Discover it® Miles has a lot in common with the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: an unlimited 1.5 miles per dollar spent, a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. But a key difference is that the Discover it® Miles gives you the same value per point whether you redeem for travel or cash back. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has an edge over this card with its opportunities for bonus rewards and Visa’s wider acceptance abroad, but the Discover it® Miles is worth considering if you want better cash-back value.

    Premium perks can take your travel further

    The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card offers premium perks without the premium cost. Cardholders get 3 points per $1 spent on travel purchases (4 points for those enrolled in the PenFed Honors Advantage program) and 1.5 points per $1 spent everywhere else. On top of rewards, the card offers a $100 annual air travel credit and up to $100 in the form of a statement credit for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck programs every five years.

    This card comes with a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for PenFed Honors Advantage members. Even without qualifying for PenFed Honors Advantage, you can effectively cancel out the annual fee as long as you can take advantage of the full $100 air travel credit. You’ll need to be a credit union member to qualify for this card.

    If you’d like to see how these cards compare with other potential travel card options, you can search NerdWallet’s list of best rated credit cards.

    Is the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card right for you?

    The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card offers a solid travel rewards program for the fee-averse. If your deposits reside at Bank of America®, you can gain even more rewards.

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