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Bank of America launches new travel rewards card and expands Preferred Rewards

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Bank of America is entering into the premium travel credit card space with the introduction of its Premium Rewards Elite Credit Card.

The card, which officially launched Nov. 22, offers rewards on travel and dining, along with lifestyle and travel benefits marketed in a similar fashion as those offered by competing travel credit cards.

“The outstanding travel and lifestyle perks of Premium Rewards Elite make it an exciting addition to our suite of award-winning credit cards,” said Jason Gaughan, credit card executive at Bank of America, in a press release. “We’re proud to offer this new card designed to further reward and enhance the client experience.”

Further, as of Dec. 9, the bank has added Diamond and Diamond Honors tiers to its Preferred Rewards program. Bank of America customers can also expect a Partner Rewards program launch for debit and credit cardholders in the coming weeks.

Details of Bank of America’s new premium travel card

The Bank of America Premium Rewards Elite Credit Card earns an unlimited 2X points on travel and dining purchases and 1.5X points on all other purchases. For a welcome bonus, you’ll receive 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.

Rewards can be redeemed for travel, cash back, a statement credit, gift cards and experiences. If you redeem rewards for airfare through the Bank of America Travel Center, you’ll get 20 percent savings. Note: Preferred Rewards members at the Platinum Honors tier and above can earn heightened rewards.

The Premium Rewards Elite Credit Card has a $550 annual fee, but the credits it offers add up to $550 in value:

  • $300 in annual airline incidental statement credits
  • $150 in annual lifestyle statement credits
  • Up to $100 in credits toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership

This Bank of America credit card also offers complimentary 24/7 full-service concierge, Priority Pass Select lounge access and no foreign transaction fees. Additionally, as a Visa Infinite credit card, you’ll receive benefits like access to the Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection.

New tiers added to the Preferred Rewards program

Bank of America also announced the addition of two new tiers to its Preferred Rewards program—Diamond and Diamond Honors.

The Diamond tier includes members with $1 million or more in assets with Bank of America, and the Diamond Honors tier includes those with $10 million or more. Previously, the Preferred Rewards program only offered Gold ($20,000 or more), Platinum ($50,000 or more) and Platinum Honors tiers ($100,000 or more).

To qualify for the Preferred Rewards program, you must have an eligible and active Bank of America checking account and hold “a three-month combined average daily balance of $20,000 or more in qualifying Bank of America deposit accounts and/or Merrill investment accounts,” according to Bank of America.

Other benefits for Diamond and Diamond Honors members include:

  • 75 percent bonus on rewards earned with any eligible Bank of America credit card
  • 25 percent interest rate boost on Bank of America Advantage Savings accounts
  • Increased mortgage and home equity benefits
  • Reduced annual fee with a Merrill Guided Investing account
  • Luxury benefits and lifestyle experiences, access to personalized services and more

“These enhancements to our Preferred Rewards program reflect our ongoing commitment to rewarding clients for their relationship with us,” said Randy Takian, head of wealth management banking and lending at Bank of America, in a press release. “Preferred Rewards program members already enjoy bonus points on card spending, discounts on home lending and fee waivers. The new Diamond and Diamond Honors tiers take the program to another level for our high net worth and ultra high net worth clients.”

Upcoming Partner Rewards program

Lastly, within the next few weeks, Bank of America is set to launch its Partner Rewards program.

The program, which is “designed to provide greater choice in how clients redeem exclusive partner offers and rewards,” will be available to Bank of America credit and debit cardholders. Its first offer is said to be discounts on gas purchases.

Upon enrollment, you’ll be able to choose a Bank of America card to link to the program and decide between earning your card’s existing rewards or the enhanced merchant benefits offered through the program.

Is the Bank of America Premium Rewards Elite Credit Card worth it?

While the Premium Rewards Elite card is the most premium travel card to come out of Bank of America’s camp, Bankrate senior credit card industry analyst Ted Rossman finds a significant gap in the card’s offerings.

“The notable omission in my mind is the lack of airline/hotel transfer partners,” says Rossman. “Those are big selling points for rivals like Amex, Chase and Capital One. Even Citi, which no longer accepts applications for its high-end card, the Citi Prestige® Card, has an attractive list of airline/hotel transfer partners on other cards such as the Citi Premier® Card (which charges a much lower annual fee).”

Despite the lack of transfer partners, Rossman points out that there are likeable aspects of the card—particularly for Preferred Rewards members with $100,000 or more in the bank.

“I like the 20 percent rebate on airline points redemptions, getting at least 2.625 points on every dollar spent is compelling and the $150 lifestyle credit is easier to use than some competitors’ credits,” Rossman says. “The $300 airline incidental credit, however, goes in the opposite direction (it’s much more restrictive than the $300 travel credits on the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card).”

The bottom line

While the Premium Rewards Elite Credit Card has some stiff competition in the premium travel card space, existing Bank of America customers, in particular, may find sufficient value.

“I don’t think this will immediately disrupt Amex and Chase’s dominance of the premium card space, and Capital One’s new Venture X card offers a more affordable price point for those dipping their toes into the premium card space for the first time,” Rossman says. “But particularly for Bank of America loyalists, this new card represents a nice step forward.”

And in terms of the newly added Preferred Rewards tiers, Rossman questions their true value.

“I would have expected better benefits at those $1 million and $10 million-plus levels,” he says. “From a credit card perspective, the rewards bonus tops out once you hit the $100,000 threshold.”

As a final note, keep an eye out for the Partner Rewards program launch in the coming weeks. While we don’t yet know the list of partner brands, the added optionality is nice—especially for Bank of America debit cardholders.

The information about the Citi Prestige® Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Written by
Claire Dickey
Editor, Product
Claire Dickey is a product editor for Bankrate, CreditCards.com and To Her Credit. Before joining Bankrate, Claire worked as a copywriter for brands within the telecommunications industry as well as a hybrid marketing and content writer.
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