Is the Bank of America Travel Rewards card worth it?
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- The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is worth it to cardholders who seek simplicity and easy rewards.
- The card is not worth it for people who like to maximize rewards or prefer to transfer points to their preferred airline or hotel chain.
There are dozens of travel credit cards to choose from, but the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card stands out for a few reasons. At first glance, several features deserve a callout, including the lack of an annual fee, intro APR offer on purchases and no foreign transaction fees. The 25,000-point welcome bonus, earned after spending $1,000 within 90 days of account opening, is also worth mentioning.
As you dig a little deeper, the rewards structure might seem rather uninspired, especially compared to other travel credit cards: You earn an unlimited 1.5X points on every purchase. However, depending on the spender, the card’s simple rewards structure could be considered a disadvantage of a perk. Keep reading to find out if the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is worth it for you.
When is the Bank of America Travel Rewards card worth it?
The Bank of America Travel Rewards card offers plenty of benefits for consumers, even if it doesn’t look exactly like other travel credit cards or programs.
If you prefer a simple rewards structure
The card rewards you with unlimited 1.5X points on every purchase. That means you earn points no matter where you make your purchase or which category your purchase falls under. Travel booked through the Bank of America Travel Center also earn 3X points. As an added bonus, your points never expire.
The welcome bonus is also easy to earn — spend $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening to receive 25,000 points. For most cardholders, $1,000 is an attainable number that won’t require you to spend far above your budget. The best part is that there’s no annual fee, so you do not have to strategize your spending or work hard to maximize the card to make up for a high annual fee. You can simply swipe the card on every purchase and wait for the rewards to pile up.
If you have a Bank of America or Merrill bank account
Existing Bank of America or Merrill customers or those interested in banking with them may find the Bank of America Travel Rewards card highly lucrative because of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. By joining, you can earn an additional 25 percent to 75 percent in rewards for each dollar you spend.
Although there is no fee to join the program, you have to meet minimum balance requirements for at least three months to qualify. To receive a 75 percent boost on your 1.5X points rate, making your rewards rate 2.625X points, you would need to become at least a Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors. This tier requires a minimum $100,000 balance across your accounts. If you’re able to take advantage of this program, it could add a substantial boost to your rewards.
If you’d like to redeem rewards for travel or dining
The Bank of America points you receive can be used for the standard redemptions such as statement credit, gift cards, check or direct deposit into a Bank of America or Merrill account. However, one special feature this rewards program offers is that you can redeem your rewards for statement credits retroactively, on eligible travel and dining purchases, for up to 12 months of your purchase date.
This essentially means that you can spend your rewards on travel booked through third-party websites or directly with the airline or hotel, instead of restricting redemptions to only travel reservations made through the issuer’s online portal. Plus, the travel and dining categories actually have a broad definition.
Here are a few examples of the wide range of redemption options for travel:
- Flights, including baggage fees
- Hotel stays
- Vacation rentals
- Travel agencies
- Car, boat and truck rentals
- Cruise lines
- Tourist attractions
Restaurant redemption also covers more than you might expect, including:
- Fast food
- Bars and taverns
Each point is worth 1 cent each when you redeem it for a qualifying travel or restaurant category. However, for gift card redemptions the value goes down to 0.6 cents, giving you far less bang for your rewards buck.
0% introductory APR offer
Anyone seeking to buy an expensive item — a laptop, treadmill or a sectional for the living room — or planning to pay off balances racked up from other credit cards would appreciate the Bank of America Travel Rewards card’s introductory offer. The card carries a lengthy intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. Note, balance transfers must be made in the first 60 days to receive the introductory rate, and a 3 percent balance transfer fee applies to all transferred balances.
If you want useful travel perks
Naturally, you would expect a travel rewards card to limit the fees for those traveling overseas. This is true of the Bank of America Travel rewards card, as it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. In other words, you can swipe your card outside of the United States without generating fees for doing so.
The card is also a Visa Signature card, which entitles you to a host of benefits, which include a variety for travel such as:
- Visa Signature concierge services
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Roadside dispatch
- Travel and emergency assistance
When is the Bank of America Travel Rewards card not worth it?
Before signing up for the card, be sure to consider your own financial priorities. There are potential downsides to the card, too, which make it unsuitable for certain types of cardholders. If the following scenarios apply for you, you’d be better off applying for a different card.
If you want to join a robust travel program
Despite the name, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card does not offer much in terms of actual travel features. There is a travel portal where you can book flights, hotels and car rentals, but the issuer has no airline or hotel partners to which you can transfer rewards.
That means there is no way to maximize rewards potential by transferring points to travel partners. And your points are not worth more, per point, when redeemed on the travel portal as opposed to using them for statement credits toward eligible travel and dining purchases. For both redemption options, one point is worth 1 cent.
With inflation affecting travel prices, rewards from a more robust travel program, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards, may bring you more value.
Should you get the Bank of America Travel Rewards card?
If you’d like to earn simple, reliable rewards while paying off debts from other credit cards or a large purchase, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is a good card to keep in your back pocket. The introductory APR allows you to focus your payments on your balances, without charging you high interest. Any purchases you make here and there would earn 1.5X points on all purchases in any category.
However, as the only card in your wallet or the only travel credit card you have, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card may not be worth it. If you put all your expenses on it, you’ll amass a decent amount of rewards. But it may be difficult to maximize their value without being able to transfer to any hotel or airline partners (or receive a boost in rewards value when making travel bookings via the Bank of America Travel Center).
The bottom line
The Bank of America Travel Rewards card works best for someone who craves flexibility and a rewards structure that is easy to keep track of.
What this card lacks in a travel portal and boosted earnings, it makes up for in low (or no) fees and intro APR offers on purchases and balance transfers.