Full Review of Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
Earn points on every purchase, with no spending caps
No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee
High-net-worth Bank of America and Merrill customers receive points bonuses
Rewards rates are relatively modest
Reward points can't be transferred
Premium travel benefits aren't included
- Earn Points on Every Purchase, with no Spending Cap: The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card keeps its rewards structure on the simple side. Members earn 1.5 points per dollar on almost all purchases, with no spending caps to worry about. That makes it fairly easy to calculate how many points you'll earn each time you spend and to estimate the number of points you'll earn each year, based on your purchasing habits. The only exception to the standard rate is on purchases made through the Bank of America Travel Center, which earn double the rewards—3 points per dollar. Essentially, the Travel Center purchases earn 1.5 base points per dollar, along with 1.5 in bonus points, again with no limit on the number of points you can earn.
- No Annual Fee or Foreign Transaction Fee: With some travel rewards cards, you're forced to play catch-up to earn enough points or miles to recoup the cost of the annual fee, and to decide whether to pay it again at the end of each year. This card's absence of an annual fee relieves you of such tasks. And where many cards charge between 2.7% to 3.0% to process foreign transactions, the Bank of America Travel Rewards has no such fee, which makes it a fine companion for international travel.
- High-Net-Worth Bank of America and Merrill Customers Receive Point Bonuses: The card's standard points rate is supercharged if you have at least $20,000 in a Bank of America bank account or Merrill investment account. Under the bank’s Preferred Rewards program, a three-month average balance of $20,000 grants you a 25% point bonus, meaning you earn 1.87 points per dollar spent. The bonus rises to 50% (and a total of 2.25 points/$1) if you maintain a $50,000 balance, and to 75% (2.62 points/$1) if you have $100,000-plus in an account.
- Rewards Rates Are Relatively Modest: In a sea of travel rewards cards, the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is at the lower end in terms of points earned per dollar. It's unusual among such cards in not having a specific, and higher, rate for travel expenditures than for all other purchases; with many travel cards, that rate is 2 or 3 points per dollar spent. While you can earn up to 3 points per dollar on travel with this card, that's only on purchases you make through the Bank of America Travel Center. Other cards offer as many or more miles or points per dollar on travel without requiring you to book through their travel portal.
- Reward Points Can't Be Transferred: With some travel rewards cards, you have the flexibility of transferring miles or points to other travel loyalty programs or using them directly to cover purchases from airlines, hotels, or the card's travel portal. That option can allow you the flexibility to get more for your miles by converting them into points or miles with your travel loyalty programs. With this card, you're limited to redeeming rewards as a statement credit against travel purchases, a cash credit, or gift cards. The statement credit for travel is the simplest and most lucrative option, with points redeemed at 1 cent per point. Cash credits can be deposited only to a Bank of America bank account or Merrill investment account, and you receive only $0.006 in cash points. (In other words, 2,500 points would earn you $15 in cash compared with $25 in travel credit). The rates on gift cards vary.
- Premium Travel Benefits Aren't Included: Perks such as complimentary lounge access, free checked bags, and complimentary flight upgrades can make your travel experience more enjoyable. Unfortunately, you won't find such perks with this card, as it's more of a no-frills travel rewards option.
This Card is Best For
Prefers uncomplicated rewards with single rate for all spending
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
This card could be a worthy choice if you’re looking for a rewards card with no annual fee that earns points at a flat rate on every purchase—and you’re fine with spending its rewards on travel.
While you can redeem this card’s awards in other ways than as a travel credit, those alternatives are less lucrative and require more work. And the purchases to which you apply the travel credit are broad, and include spending not only on flights and hotels but bus and taxi fares along with entertainment spending on admissions to zoos, amusement parks, and the like. The card's absence of a foreign transaction fee is another travel plus if you often take trips outside the U.S.
This card is also richly rewarding for those who have a combined balance of at least $20,000 in Bank of America or Merrill Investment accounts. Those customers can earn 25%, 50% or 75% more rewards on purchases, depending on their balance.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card One-Time Offer
This card offers a fairly generous bonus for eligible new card members. You receive 25,000 points when you make at least $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of opening your account. This bonus is worth $250 if taken as a travel statement credit.
While there are cards that offer two to three times that many points as a bonus, they typically require two to three times the spending of this card—that is, $2,000 to $3,000 in the same three-month period. Also, those bigger-bonus cards often have an annual fee.
Rewards Earning Details
Members earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases, from travel to everyday spending to anything else. There are no limits on the number of points you can earn and no spending caps to observe.
The 3 points per dollar rewards rate (comprising 1.5 basic points plus 1.5 bonus ones) is good on all travel purchases made through the Travel Center, excluding travel insurance. Bonus points available through the Preferred Rewards Program are applied automatically, as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
For those with hefty Bank of America or Merrill Investment Accounts, the Preferred Rewards bonuses on purchases at the Bank of America Travel Store are applied to only half of the 3 points rate—the half that comprises the 1.5 points/$1 base rate. So Preferred members would earn a total of between 3.375 and 4.125 points for each dollar they spend at the Travel Center.
Rewards Redemption Details
While you don't have the option of transferring your rewards to partner travel programs, you do have multiple choices for redeeming them.
The first is as a statement credit, which is the most beneficial option, as a rule. You can redeem rewards for travel statement credit starting at 2,500 points, making each point worth $0.01 apiece. This credit can be applied to eligible travel purchases including airfare, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, rental car companies and tourist attractions. In-flight purchases may or may not qualify for travel statement credit redemption, depending on how it is coded. For example, a food purchase made with Delta may code as a travel purchase and Wi-Fi purchased through Boingo may code as a wireless purchase and in those cases would qualify. Duty-free airport purchases do not qualify for travel statement credit redemption, however.
You can also redeem your points for cash rewards in the form of a paper check or an electronic deposit into a Bank of America checking or savings account. The minimum number of points required to redeem is 2,500, which is equal to $15 in cash rewards. This puts the points value for these redemptions at $0.006 each.
Finally, you can redeem rewards for gift cards. Gift card redemptions start at 3,125 points and the redemption value varies, based on the card. As long as your account remains open and in good standing, your rewards points never expire.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
There are four ways to maximize rewards with this card.
The first is to meet the $1,000 minimum spending requirement within the first 90 days to qualify for the 25,000 point bonus. Next, you can maximize regular rewards by charging all purchases, travel or otherwise, to the card.
The third way to get the most rewards is to become a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, and earn point bonuses of 25% to 75%. Membership has a high bar, however. The program requires you to have a combined three-month average balance in your accounts of $20,000, $50,000, and $100,000 respectively, corresponding to the program's Gold, Platinum, and Platinum Honors levels.
Lastly, consider the best way to redeem rewards. You'll get the most value with the lowest number of points required to redeem if you apply them as a travel statement credit at a rate of $0.01 each.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card's Outstanding Benefits
- 25% to 75% Preferred Rewards member bonuses
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fee
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card's Standard Benefits
Bank of America earned a rating of 798 in J.D. Power's 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, which is about average. Overall, it ranked seventh in satisfaction among credit card issuers.
Bank of America cardmembers can manage their accounts online or through the Bank of America mobile app. This card can also be added to digital wallets to shop in-store or in-app using Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay.
If you have questions about your account or need help with something, customer service is available by phone at 800-732-9194. You can also connect with a customer service representative through live chat.
As do other card issuers, Bank of America monitors your account for suspected fraudulent or suspicious activity and alerts you if any unusual patterns are detected. Like its competitors, fraudulent transactions are covered by a $0 liability guarantee, meaning you won't be held responsible if your card is used to make unauthorized purchases.
Hidden Fees to Watch Out For
The fees for this card are fairly transparent and the charges for balance transfer and cash advances are in line with what you'll find with other rewards cards. One fee you do need to be aware of is the cash advance protection fee if you decide to use your card as overdraft protection for a Bank of America checking account. This fee is $12 per transaction.
The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is a good basic travel rewards option. This card doesn't come with a lot of bells and whistles but it may appeal to someone who wants to earn rewards on every purchase that can be redeemed for travel spending. If you already have high-balance bank accounts or investment accounts at Bank of America or Merrill, the Preferred Rewards member bonus is also a nice additional incentive to get this card.
With its absence of travel perks, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card may not be a great fit, however, for someone who's seeking such luxury benefits as a travel concierge or automatic elite status in a hotel loyalty program.