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Chase and Bank of America are the two largest banking operations in the United States, offering an entire suite of financial products to their consumers — including an array of credit card options. With so many similarities between these two finance giants, it can be difficult to differentiate which issuer might provide more value for you.
Variety of cards offered
Both Bank of America and Chase offer a full range of credit card options. However, Chase does have significantly more cards in their lineup — 28 compared to Bank of America’s seven. Chase’s lineup includes top cards such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, plus many co-branded favorites from brands like Amazon and Southwest.
While Bank of America’s lineup is more conservative, the issuer still offers some of the most competitive cards on the market — their recently updated Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card comes with an innovative rewards structure that allows you to choose your own bonus category each month.
If you’re looking for a no annual fee credit card, you can find one with either issuer. However, Chase’s premium cards typically come with premium annual fees. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a luxury travel card or top-tier business card, you’ll probably be better off with one from Chase’s lineup, which offers many cards with generous sign-up bonuses and additional perks.
It is important to keep in mind Chase’s 5/24 rule if you’ve recently applied for other credit cards or plan on applying for more than one in the next two years. If you’ve opened five or more personal credit cards within the last 24 months (including non-Chase credit cards), Chase will automatically deny your application.
Features, benefits and protections
As the two largest banking institutions in the country, Bank of America and Chase both offer standard credit monitoring tools and protections such as FICO credit score tracking, account alerts and more. However, the two issuers do differ in the kinds of higher-level perks and benefits they offer cardholders.
Chase’s credit cards come with purchase protection and extended warranty protection, and many of their top travel cards offer an extensive list of perks. The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve® both come with primary auto rental collision insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel/emergency assistance services and trip cancellation/interruption insurance. If you travel frequently, these extra protections might offer more value than the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card option.
On the other hand, Bank of America offers better incentives for those who use the full range of their banking capabilities.
Bank of America Preferred Rewards
If you maintain active Bank of America checking, savings or investment accounts, you could be eligible for Bank of America Preferred Rewards. The rewards program is broken down into three tiers: Gold, Platinum and Platinum Honors.
You’ll qualify for Gold Preferred Rewards if you have a three-month average combined balance of more than $20,000 in qualifying Bank of America banking and investment accounts. Benefits include a 5% boost in your interest rate, priority client service, a 25% rewards bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards and other investment and banking benefits.
Platinum status is earned after having a three-month average combined balance of more than $50,000, and includes a 50% rewards bonus and a 10% interest rate booster on savings accounts, plus other banking and investment benefits.
With over a $100,000 three-month average balance, you’ll earn Platinum Honors. Their highest rewards tier offers a 20% interest rate booster on savings accounts, unlimited no-fee transactions at non-Bank of America ATMs, a 75% rewards bonus on your eligible Bank of America credit cards and more.
If you are a Preferred Rewards customer, you can really increase your credit card rewards earning potential each year when you use a Bank of America credit card.
For example, if you spend an average of $1,600 each month with the Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card and maximize the bonus categories, you can significantly increase your cash back earnings each year:
|Standard||Gold Preferred Rewards bonus||Platinum Preferred Rewards bonus||Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards bonus|
|Yearly cash back earnings||$392||$490||$588||$686|
Compared to the $288 you could earn each year with the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the $432 you could earn with the Chase Freedom, Bank of America customers might find having a Bank of America card in their wallet adds a lot more long-term value.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
While Bank of America does offer significant incentives to those who maintain both banking and credit card accounts with them, Chase is home to one of the most valuable travel rewards programs in the industry.
Chase Ultimate Rewards are the points you earn with many Chase cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. These points can be redeemed as a cash deposit, a statement credit, third-party gift cards or travel. You’ll get the most value out of your points when you redeem them for travel purchases, either through the Chase travel portal or by transferring them to one of Chase’s 13 travel partners:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Using the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business PreferredSM, you can redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for 1.25 cents each through the Chase Travel Portal with no blackout dates, making it easy to book award travel. The Reserve allows cardholders to redeem points for 1.5 cents each through the portal, adding even more value.
Chase’s transfer partners allow you to transfer points at a 1:1 ratio. If you’re willing to do a bit of research, you can really stretch the value of those rewards points.
Chase Ultimate Rewards allows a lot of flexibility when it comes to pairing credit cards and pooling points. If you have at least one Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card, you can pair it with other Chase credit cards so that you can combine points before redeeming. Chase also allows you to transfer points to another member of your household, meaning you can pool your rewards with a spouse or other family member.
The bottom line
If you’re a frequent traveler or a small business owner with large monthly expenses, a Chase credit card might be a better fit for your needs. However, if you’re looking for a customizable cash back card or are eligible for Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program, you’ll probably get more long-term value by choosing one of their cards.
Both issuers offer top-notch customer service, solid mobile app experiences and a variety of card options to fit your needs. When comparing credit cards from Chase and Bank of America, it’s all about deciding which issuer offers a card that can fit your needs and help you maximize your rewards.
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