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Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students Review

overall rating
4.5

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The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card for students offers unlimited travel rewards on every purchase, with no foreign transaction fee. A 0% introductory APR on purchases and no annual fee add to the card's appeal for students who want to earn travel rewards while saving money.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students

overall rating
4.4
Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students
On Bank of America's Secured Site.

Current Offer:

25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening - which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% - 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Billing Cycles
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all student cards in our database:
Low Interest
Security/Customer Experience
Low Fees
Rewards
Benefits
worst best

Full Review of Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students

Pros
  • Decent travel-rewards earnings and no tiers to manage

  • Pay off purchases for 12 billing cycles with no interest

  • Friendly to foreign travel

Cons
  • Rewards aren't transferable

  • No 0% APR balance transfer offer

  • Minimum spending requirement is on the high side

Pros Explained

  • Decent Travel-Rewards Earnings and No Tiers to Manage: At 1.5 points earned for every dollar spent, this card is competitive in rewards with other no-fee travel cards. When redeemed for travel, each point is worth a cent, which is also fairly standard. Some student credit cards and regular travel rewards cards tier their rewards programs, meaning you earn more points or miles in one category versus another. The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card for students makes earning travel rewards easy, with one flat rewards rate that applies to every dollar you spend. 
  • Pay Off New Purchases for 12 Billing Cycles with No Interest: This card could be a good choice for students who plan large purchases and could need time to pay them off without incurring interest charges. New members can take advantage of a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 billing cycles. After that, the rate reverts to a regular variable APR of 16.49% to 24.49%, based on creditworthiness.
  • Friendly to Foreign Travel: This card also has potential for students who are planning a spring break trip overseas or want to spend a semester or two abroad. There is no foreign transaction fee, which is a money-saver considering that many cards charge between 1% and 3% to convert purchases made abroad to U.S. dollars.

Cons Explained

  • Reward Points Aren't Transferable: A travel rewards credit card that allows you to transfer its points or miles to your accounts with partner hotels and airlines allows the potential to get more for these assets in such loyalty programs. This card allows no such point transfers; rewards for travel can be redeemed only through Bank of America.
  • No Balance-Transfer Offer: Many cards with 0% APR introductory offers extend those to both new purchases and balances that are transferred from other cards. The offer for the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card for students isn't so broad. It only allows you 12 months from the time of account opening to pay off purchases with zero interest; balance transfers aren’t eligible. Any balance transfers you make will be subject to the regular variable APR, which is unlikely to be any lower than what you’re now paying. And the need to pay a 3% transfer fee on the transferred sum further reduces the likelihood of saving money by moving a balance to this card.
  • Minimum Spending Requirement Is on the High Side: There's an introductory bonus offer available for new card members and like any bonus, there's also a minimum spending requirement. The minimum spending that's required, of $1,000 over the first three months, is hardly onerous. Still, it's higher than for some other cards and merits some caution from students on modest budgets who want to avoid racking up debt.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Annual Fee Averse Persona
    Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
    Annual Fee Averse
  • Avatar for International Traveler Persona
    Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
    International Traveler
  • Avatar for College Student Persona
    Currently enrolled in an accredited four year college or university
    College Student

This card is a worthy pick for students who want to earn travel rewards on every purchase they make, everywhere they go, without paying an annual fee or foreign-transaction fees. Students can earn the same rewards rate whether they're booking a trip or picking up dorm snacks at the grocery store.

It might also appeal to students who already do their banking with Bank of America and want to start building credit while managing a checking and savings account. Such dual-service customers can also link their card account to their Bank of America account and use the card to cover overdrafts, which the bank then considers to be cash advances (and charges accordingly). While a $12 fee applies for each overdraft protection transaction charged to your card, that’s less than a typical overdraft fee for your bank account.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students One-Time Offer

The one-time offer available with this card is worth 25,000 points. To earn it, students must charge at least $1,000 in purchases to their card within the first 90 days after opening their account.

While that's double the required spending to earn the bonus for some other student cards, such as the Citi Rewards+ Student credit card, the bonus with this card is high—10 times greater than that of the Citi Rewards+ Student card, for example. As far as what the bonus is worth for redemptions, it's the equivalent of a $250 statement credit when used toward travel purchases.

Rewards Earning Details

Earning rewards with this card is straightforward, in that every purchase earns an unlimited 1.5 points per dollar. There are no blackout dates or restrictions on earning points and points never expire. That's good for students who want to accumulate a large pile of points they could apply to travel purchases. 

Students can increase their travel rewards rate by booking travel through the Bank of America Travel Center. When you book travel purchases, excluding insurance, those purchases earn 1.5 base points and 1.5 bonus points, for a combined total of 3 points per dollar. Again, there's no limit on the number of points you can earn when booking through the Travel Center.

Rewards Redemption Details

Just as earning rewards with this card is simple, so is redeeming them. Points can be redeemed for statement credit against previous travel purchases, including hotels, airfare, rental cars, cruises and vacation packages. You'll need a minimum of 2,500 points to redeem for travel statement credit and redemptions are only good for purchases made at qualifying travel merchants. Each point is worth $0.01 each when you redeem for travel, so every 10,000 points earned is worth $100 in statement credit. 

Besides travel statement credit, you can redeem your points for cash back and gift cards. Cash back is received as a check or a deposit into a Bank of America checking or savings account. Cash rewards start at 3,125 points for $18.75, making them worth $0.006 each. The redemption value for gift cards varies based on which merchant you're getting the gift cards from.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

Since this card has a flat rewards rate, the best ways to maximize rewards are qualifying for the initial bonus, then charging all purchases to the card going forward. To qualify for the 25,000 introductory bonus points, students would need to charge an average of $333 and change for the first three months. This could be fairly easy to do for a student who routinely pays for things like groceries, dining out, gas or entertainment. 

Assuming a student spends that same amount, $333 per month, in an ongoing way they could annually accumulate 5,994 points in travel rewards. That would be the equivalent of $59.94 in travel statement credit. 

Now, assume that same student instead charges $500 per month to their card on everyday purchases and travel. In that scenario, they'd earn 9,000 points per year or $90 in travel statement credit. This is based on the 1.5 points per dollar earnings rate. If a student were to charge $200 in travel purchases each month through the Bank of America Travel Center, they'd earn 7,200 points per year, which would be worth $72 in travel statement credits. 

If you happen to already have a hefty amount in cash or investment earnings, you can also receive further benefits through the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. This program offers additional rewards bonuses for Bank of America checking and savings account owners as well as those with Merrill investment accounts. Students can receive a rewards bonus of 25% to 75% on top of their base rewards, but the program’s required balances are high, starting at $20,000. The higher the balance, the higher the bonus.

So, using the same $200 per month spending scenario mentioned earlier where you earn 3 points per dollar through the Travel Center, assume that you qualify for the 25% points bonus through having an account balance of $20,000 (which admittedly might be ambitious for most students). That would add another 9,000 points per year to the total, bringing your total travel credit value to $180 for the year. The great thing about the Preferred Rewards program is that you don't have to do anything extra to enjoy these benefits, other than have an eligible credit to make purchases with and an eligible Bank of America or Merrill account—albeit with a very large balance. 

When it comes to redeeming points, do so to cover travel expenses. That way, you reap nearly twice the return of taking rewards in the form of cash, for which points are worth only $0.06 rather than a full cent you get for points you use for travel.

Standard Benefits

  • Free FICO credit score access
  • EMV chip protection
  • Use your card as overdraft protection
  • Mobile wallet technology
  • Online and mobile banking

Cardholder Experience

Bank of America earned a 798 rating in J.D. Power's 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, putting it just below the national average rating of 806. It was also deemed to the best bank for college students by Money magazine.

Students have the usual avenues to manage their accounts, including online and mobile banking. You can set up customized alerts to notify you of new account activity and if you need customer service, help is available via live chat or by phone at 1-800-732-9194.

Security Features

This card comes with standard security features, including EMV chip technology, the capability to be loaded into a secure digital wallet app and continuous fraud monitoring. Your account is also protected by a $0 liability guarantee if your card is lost or stolen and used to make fraudulent purchases.

Our Verdict

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card for students is a strong choice for students who want to earn unlimited points toward travel on every purchase. The introductory bonus is fairly solid, with a higher spending requirement than what other student travel cards offer but also a richer reward. For fairly high rollers, the opportunity to increase regular rewards earnings through the Preferred Rewards program is also a nice incentive to sign up for this card if you already have a Bank of America or Merrill account with a five-figure balance.

We'd hesitate, though, to recommend this card for a student who doesn’t want to redeem the points they earn for travel expenses, since you’ll earn less for such redemptions. If using your rewards for travel isn’t a priority, you might be better off with a cash-back card, something like the Deserve Pro Mastercard or Discover it Student Cash Back card. 

This card also isn't ideal for students who think they may want to transfer a balance to it, since it offers no introductory APR offer for balance transfers.

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on Bank of America's Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students
overall rating
4.5
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% - 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Billing Cycles
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.