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Bank of America takes customer loyalty to the
next level with two credit cards that reward you for your spending habits and
sprinkle in unique benefits you don’t often see elsewhere. Both the Bank of
America® Travel Rewards credit card and Bank of America® Cash
Rewards credit card come with better rewards rates than you might expect from
no-annual-fee cards. Specifically:
- The Travel Rewards card earns a
flat 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase.
- The Cash Rewards card earns 3
percent cash back in the category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining,
travel, drug stores, home improvement/furnishings), 2 percent cash back at
grocery stores and wholesale club purchases and 1 percent cash back on other
purchases. Earnings in the 3 percent and 2 percent categories drop to 1 percent
after $2,500 in combined spending each quarter.
Although both cards can be valuable for a
variety of lifestyles, they’re particularly beneficial to those who have other
Bank of America checkings or savings accounts. Travel Rewards cardholders get a
10 percent earnings bonus on every purchase. Bank of America Preferred Rewards
clients (those who meet certain account balance requirements) can get a rewards
boost of up to 75 percent with either card.
Bank of America Travel Rewards vs. Bank of America Cash Rewards
of America® Travel Rewards credit card
of America® Cash Rewards card
1.5 points per dollar on
online points if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days
$150 after spending $500
in first 90 days
|Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend)||$322||$309|
|Who should get this card?||
A closer look
Bank of America Travel Rewards card
Bank of America’s signature no-annual-fee
travel card is a bit different from what you’ll find with other issuers.
Instead of earning points that transfer to frequent flier programs or hotel
loyalty programs, points can only be redeemed for a statement credit at a clip
of 1 cent apiece.
Like the Chase
Sapphire Preferred® Card (a staple in the travel community), the Bank of
America Travel card defines “travel” broadly, meaning you can redeem your
points on flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage
fees. Since you aren’t limited by any number of travel partners, your rewards
hold the same value no matter what airline you fly on or hotel you stay at.
Although some may look at this card and initially think that their redemption
options are limited due to the lack of transfer partners, the opposite is true.
Another perk to using the Travel Rewards card
as your primary travel card is the fact that you’ll actually earn 3 points per
dollar when you book through the Bank of America Travel Center. On top of that,
if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days, you’ll earn 25,000 bonus points.
Savvy credit card users are always looking for
ways to bump up their rewards rates – this travel card certainly offers plenty
of opportunities, without an annual fee to boot.
Bank of America Cash Rewards card
The Cash Rewards card from Bank of America was
once pegged mostly as a gas card since the 3 percent cash back rate used to be
limited to gas purchases. The card now appeals to far more types of spenders
since you can now choose from six categories to earn 3 percent back. The 2
percent cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases is just the
cherry on top.
Like most other cards with bonus categories,
the rewards are capped after spending $2,500 on combined purchases each
quarter. Some look at a rewards cap as a “catch” — a fine-print detail that
tricks you into earning less than you expected. In the matter of the Cash
Rewards card, that’s simply not the case. A $2,500 quarterly cap on bonus spend
roughly translates to $830 dollars per month. Most will be comfortable spending
under that amount on their bonus categories.
Another benefit of the Cash Rewards card is
the variety of redemption options it offers. Unlike some cash back cards that
only allow you to redeem your rewards for a statement credit, Bank of America
will allow you to deposit your cash back into another account, redeem for a
credit or opt for a check in the mail.
Perhaps the most distinctive perk is the intro
bonus. You’ll earn $150 after spending $500 on your new card within the first
90 days. The amount you need to spend to get the bonus and the bonus itself are both extremely competitive in the credit card landscape.
Here’s what else you need to know about these
Best for people who like using
one card for most purchases: Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card
Although the 1.5 miles per dollar spent is a
decent rewards rate, it requires heavy spending for the rewards to add up. For
example, it takes a whopping $10,000 to rack up $150 worth of travel points. On
the flip side, its 25,000-point intro bonus offer (if you spend $1,000 in the
first three months on purchases) can be redeemed for up to $250 toward travel
purchases. That’s a pretty good value for such a small minimum spend. Most
cards require a spend of $2,000 or more.
If you’d like to simplify your credit card
strategy, or you’re relatively new to the rewards game, this card is certainly
a good option. Put most (if not all) of your credit card spend onto it, score a
great intro bonus, and you’ll have enough points for a pretty good redemption.
Since there’s no annual fee, you’ll have very
little work to do to enjoy the benefits. Pay your bills in full and on time and
you’ll come out on top. Later on, if you’d like to upgrade your card to the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card
(which earns 2X points on travel and dining purchases), you can do so.
Best for families and credit card
jugglers: Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card
The Cash Rewards card is really useful for
families looking to save on some of the most common expenses like gas, dining
and groceries. The above-average rewards rate and relatively high rewards cap
make it a valuable tool that doesn’t come with an annual fee.
For those with multiple credit cards, this
card could be great as your go-to for gas purchases only. Say you have other
cards that earn better rewards on groceries, travel and other expenses. If you
spend $200 per month on gas, you’ll earn $72 annually in cash back. So you’ll
earn $72 plus the $150 sign-up bonus – all without meeting the spend cap.
Which card should you choose?
Ask yourself what you’re looking for: an
introduction to the world of travel rewards, or savings on everyday expenses.
Also consider what you’d like to redeem your rewards for. If you’re earning a
bunch of cash back with the Cash Rewards card but you’d rather treat yourself
with a nice trip instead of saving on another week of groceries, maybe you’d be
better off applying for both. After all, money spent in the Bank of America
Travel Center earns a whopping 3 points per dollar.