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BofA debuts travel rewards cards

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET

Bank of America unveiled two consumer travel rewards cards, one for the casual traveler and the other for the well-heeled. Both cards encourage deeper relationships with the bank.

The issuer Tuesday welcomed the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card and the BankAmericard Privileges with Travel Rewards card to its suite of credit card offerings. (The company also introduced a business travel rewards card.)

The rewards earned on the cards can be redeemed at any airline, hotel or travel company, a first for the company.

Before, the bank only offered co-branded travel rewards cards with Alaska Airlines, Hawaiin Airlines, AAA, Royal Caribbean, Virgin Atlantic and Norwegian Cruise Line.

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards card boasts no annual fee and a rewards earnings rate of 1.5 percent.

"This is rolled out for the average Joe and Sally out there who have a traditional job and don't travel that much, but every once in a while would like to have enough rewards for a vacation," says Bill McCracken, CEO of Synergistics Research, an Atlanta-based marketing firm for the financial services industry.

Holders of the BankAmericard Privileges card earn two points for every dollar spent on purchases. The card comes with a $75 annual fee, which is waived for cardholders who maintain at least $50,000 in deposits and investments at the bank.

"It's unusual to see a fee waiver on a card based on affluence," McCracken says.

However, he pointed out that Bank of America faces increased competition for deposits after Barclays announced Monday that it will offer high-yield savings accounts and CDs for U.S. consumers. Credit card issuers Discover, American Express and Capital One all have moved into online banking, too.

"All financial institutions are after the holy grail of the shared wallet," McCracken says. "They don't want just one relationship with a customer. They want two, three or more."

That's why Bank of America will give holders of the new cards a 10 percent point bonus on their total purchases every year if the cardholder has another qualifying account with the bank, says bank spokeswoman Betty Riess.

"We want to reward customers who bring more of their business to the bank," she says.

Would you open a banking account to get more from your credit card?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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