Issuer comparison: Bank of America vs. Chase

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Before you sign up for a new rewards credit card, it can help to compare a few of the major issuers in terms of their unique card offerings, rewards structure and regular benefits and perks. One major comparison to make is Chase vs. Bank of America, mostly because both of these card issuers offer popular rewards credit cards that can help you score flexible rewards for each dollar you spend.

Maybe you want to compare the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, or perhaps you want to do a basic comparison of all the cash back and travel credit cards each issuer offers.

Either way, this guide aims to help you decide between two finance giants—Chase vs. Bank of America—before you sign up for your next credit card.

Bank of America: Details and benefits

Currently, Bank of America has more than 4,200 retail finance locations nationwide as well as approximately 17,000 ATMs. This card issuer also boasts 21 different credit cards, which include rewards credit cards, co-branded credit cards with airlines and cruise lines and even secured credit cards and card options for students.

Another benefit of Bank of America credit cards is that Bank of America lets you check for prequalified card offers on the website without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This feature lets you enter basic information to find out which Bank of America cards you might be eligible for, although there’s no guarantee you will ultimately be approved.

Bank of America also extends credit cards for consumers with diverse credit ratings, including secured credit cards for bad credit. For that reason, Bank of America could be a better option than Chase if you need to build credit or repair credit mistakes you have made in the past.

Also, be aware that Bank of America has one card, the BankAmericard® credit card, that offers an introductory 0 percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles (12.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable APR thereafter), which can make this issuer a better option for debt consolidation. Keep in mind, though, that balance transfers must be made within the first 60 days, and a 3 percent balance transfer fee (with a minimum of $10) applies.

When it comes to getting approved for a Bank of America credit card and earning a welcome bonus, one rule may limit your chances. This rule, known as the 2/3/4 rule, limits you to two Bank of America credit cards every two months, three cards every three months and four cards every four months. You may also face a 24-month rule for specific cards that says you cannot be approved if you have had the same card product within the last two years.

Bank of America mobile

If you’re looking for a credit card that lets you track your purchases, payments and rewards with your mobile device, you should know that Bank of America has an award-winning digital banking platform that is currently accessed by 31 million mobile users. The Bank of America mobile app makes it easy to access a FICO score, a customizable dashboard, digital wallet functionality and more. You also have the benefit of fingerprint or face recognition security features, which can ward off hackers and thieves.

Other security features you can access with the app include alerts for suspicious activity and zero fraud liability.

Cardholder features and benefits

If you’re wondering about the features you’ll get with your Bank of America credit card, it really depends on the unique card offer you sign up for. Common Bank of America card benefits include introductory APR offers, paperless statements and FICO score access for free on your credit card statement.

However, premium credit cards from Bank of America may come with some travel benefits. For example, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card comes with trip delay insurance, trip cancellation and interruption coverage, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, an auto rental collision damage waiver and emergency evacuation and transportation coverage. Meanwhile, this card also comes with extended warranties, guaranteed returns and protection against damage or theft.

Chase: Details and benefits

By comparison, Chase has more than 4,700 banking locations nationwide, as well as more than 16,000 ATMs. It also boasts around 30 different rewards credit cards, including its own Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards and co-branded credit cards with airlines and hotel brands. Also, note that some Chase credit cards are for businesses instead of individuals.

With all this being said, Chase does not offer any credit cards for consumers with poor credit. In fact, all Chase credit cards are geared to consumers with good or excellent credit.

Before you apply for a new credit card from Chase, you should also know about the Chase 5/24 rule. This rule states you cannot get approved for a Chase credit card if you have opened five or more cards within the past 24 months. And remember, new cards from other issuers also count toward this limit.

In addition, Chase limits new credit card bonuses and approvals within specific “families” of cards. For example, popular travel credit cards in the “Sapphire” family, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, have the following wording in their fine print:

“The product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 48 months.”

Chase mobile

Like Bank of America, Chase also offers a very versatile mobile app. This app lets you keep track of your credit card purchases, make payments and track your rewards using your mobile device. Chase banking customers can also benefit from perks like mobile check deposit, online bill pay and more.

The Chase mobile app comes with security features like fingerprint sign-in and facial recognition. You can also use the app to lock and unlock your credit card if it has been lost or stolen.

Cardholder features and benefits

Common features of cash back credit cards from Chase include extended warranties and purchase protection. Meanwhile, some of the best travel credit cards from Chase come with protections such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, primary auto rental coverage and lost luggage reimbursement.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with benefits like a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership, Priority Pass Select airport lounge access and an up to $300 annual travel credit.

Bank of America vs. Chase credit card rewards programs

When comparing Chase vs. Bank of America, you’ll also want to spend some time figuring out which issuer offers the type of rewards you want to earn. Here are some additional details to keep in mind.

Bank of America rewards program

Bank of America credit cards come with a diverse selection of potential redemption options. For example, you may be able to redeem your rewards for deposits into an eligible Bank of America or Merrill account or for gift cards or purchases made in the Bank of America Travel Center.

In some cases, you may have the option to redeem your rewards for travel purchases made to your card. That’s the case with the Bank of America Travel Rewards card, which states you can redeem your Bank of America Travel Rewards points for statement credits to cover “travel and dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, vacation rentals, baggage fees and also at restaurants—including takeout.”

Bank of America Preferred Rewards

Another interesting facet of Bank of America credit cards is the fact you can glean more value if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards customer. This program isn’t strictly a credit card rewards program, but it does help Bank of America customers earn more rewards for each dollar they spend on their cards.

The Bank of America Preferred Rewards program does come with some pretty steep requirements. For example, you must have $20,000 on deposit with the bank to reach their Gold level, and you have to have at least $50,000 to $100,000 on deposit with Bank of America in order to qualify for Platinum level perks. Anyone with more than $100,000 on deposit with the bank can qualify for Platinum Honors level benefits.

In addition to special banking features and discounts, the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program lets credit card customers earn 25 percent to 75 percent more rewards for each dollar they spend. These additional rewards are earned as follows:

  • Gold members earn 25 percent more rewards
  • Platinum members earn 50 percent more rewards
  • Platinum Honors members earn 75 percent more rewards

The difference these extra rewards make can be substantial. For example, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card normally offers 2X points on travel and dining purchases and 1.5X points on everything else. However, Platinum Honors members with this card earn 3.5X points on travel and dining purchases and 2.62X points on other purchases.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Bank of America offers some pretty nice incentives to customers who keep at least $20,000 on deposit in one of its checking or savings accounts, yet Chase really stands out in terms of its travel rewards program.

Chase credit cards earn points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which lets you redeem rewards for cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise and travel. If you have premium travel credit cards from Chase, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Sapphire Reserve, you can even transfer your points to Chase transfer partners at a 1:1 ratio.

Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline partners are outlined below:

Airline partners

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air France / Flying Blue
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic

Hotel partners

  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

Some Chase cards also let you get more value for your points when you redeem them for travel. Specifically, the Chase Sapphire Reserve gets you 50 percent more value for your points when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card gets you 25 percent more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Which issuer is best for you?

At the end of the day, both Chase and Bank of America have some pretty intriguing credit card offers. However, Chase really stands out in terms of its travel credit cards while Bank of America is much more attractive if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards customer.

This guide aimed to help explain why Chase or Bank of America credit cards could leave you better off, yet there are other card issuers to consider as well. If you want the best rewards credit card for your needs and goals, make sure you also consider options from American Express, Capital One, Citi and other top card issuers.