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The Verdict: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® 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.
The party starts with a 25,000-point initial rewards bonus, worth $250 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.
This card has other virtues, too, but its rewards are the real story. You can learn more below.
- 25,000-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 25% back when you redeem for travel. The average rewards card offers nearly 3,000 fewer points, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report.
- 1.5 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: Having a Bank of America checking or savings account gets you more points on purchases. You can join Bank of America Preferred Rewards if you have at least $20,000 in such an account, or a Merrill investment account. Among other benefits, that increases your 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 $19.5 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.
- 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 and the average credit card for people with excellent credit has a 14.08% APR.
Other Things to Consider
- 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.
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