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Your guide to top credit cards from Bank of America
Bank of America, the country’s second-largest banking corporation, provides a multitude of money management services as well as a healthy crop of credit cards. If you already have an account with the bank or are eligible for a Bank of America bonus offer, one of their top credit card options could provide extra value.
Bankrate will provide the information you need on Bank of America’s top credit cards, breaking down the best card features, where some cards fall short, tiered benefits and more.
Bankrate’s picks for best Bank of America credit cards
A closer look at our top Bank of America cards
The information about the Bank of America credit cards has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card (not currently available)
This card is a great option for your first travel rewards card, or if you won’t be traveling enough in 2020 to warrant a premium travel card, but you still want a card you can use outside the U.S. with no foreign transaction fee and that you can use toward travel-related expenses. With the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, you get a ton of flexibility allowing you to use your rewards to fly any airline, stay with any hotel chain, at any time.
- You get 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. That can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Points earned can be redeemed as statement credit for qualified travel spending, which means you’re not tied to a specific airline or hotel chain.
- No foreign transaction fee.
- You have to make your travel purchase first and then get your travel expenses back as statement credit.
- No lounge access or travel protections.
- There are higher flat-rate cash back cards.
Read our full Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card review.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card (not currently available)
This card offers decent rewards rates on groceries and gas, but the real value is unlocked if you are a Preferred Rewards member. That way, you can earn 25% – 75% more cash back on every purchase. (See the “Bank of America Preferred Rewards” section to learn more.) This card is great for anyone looking for a straightforward cash back card for 2020 that offers good rewards rates on the categories you already spend heavily in, like grocery stores, wholesale clubs and gas stations.
- $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
- This card offers 3% back on choice category purchases (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings) and 2% back on spending at grocery stores and wholesale clubs up to $2,500 in combined spending per quarter, and unlimited 1% on all other spending.
- If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% – 75% more cash back on every purchase.
- No annual fee.
- You will pay a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the U.S.
- The 3% and 2% cash-back rates have a spending limit of up to $2,500 in combined purchases per quarter which could be restrictive for anyone who spends heavily in those categories.
Read our full Bank of America Cash Rewards review.
BankAmericard® credit card (not currently available)
A balance transfer credit card can be a great tool to manage debt in 2020 and pay down what you owe without incurring interest. The best balance transfer cards offer long introductory periods and low balance transfer fees, this card delivers on both. While this isn’t industry-leading (there are some cards offering $0 balance transfer fees) it’s better than most.
- Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (14.49% – 24.49% variable APR thereafter).
- No annual fee.
- No penalty rate. Paying late won’t automatically raise your interest rate. Other account pricing and terms apply.
- This card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus.
- On purchases outside the U.S., you will pay a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
Read our full BankAmericard credit card review.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card (not currently available)
As with all of the Bank of America credit cards, your rewards rates are improved for loyal Bank of America customers. Preferred Rewards members can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase (based on your enrolled tier: Gold 25%, Platinum 50%, Platinum Honors 75%). The Premium Rewards card not only offers great rewards rates but also a generous sign-up bonus. The card’s $95 annual fee is more than made up for by up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits plus valuable travel insurance protections.
- Receive 50,000 bonus points, a $500 value, after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
- Earn unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points per $1 spent on everything else.
- You have the flexibility to redeem for a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® or Merrill accounts like checking, savings and 529 accounts, for gift cards or use at the Bank of America Travel Center.
- No foreign transaction fee.
Read our full Bank of America Premium Rewards card review.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card (not currently available)
Co-branded airline credit cards tend to get a bad rap for inflexibility. Not so with the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card because you can transfer your miles to a range of airline partners. That means you can get to over 800+ destinations on your rewards. That’s a great perk of this card. Couple that fact with the Companion Fare™ offer, which gives you a companion ticket on Alaska Airlines starting at $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22), valid on all Alaska flights booked on alaskaair.com, and Alaska Airlines Visa Signature has a very compelling offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account (you’ll also get a $100 statement credit for a limited time). If you regularly fly long-haul, or plan to in 2020, this card offers the most value.
- Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 on everything else.
- Limited time offer- $100 statement credit, 40,000 Bonus Mile + Alaska’s Famous Companion FareTM Offer when you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days.
- Your travel options are expanded as you can transfer your miles to numerous airline partners.
- Alaska’s companion fare could save you hundreds of dollars.
- Free checked baggage for up to six traveling with you on the same reservation.
- $75 annual fee.
- If you don’t travel routes frequented by Alaska Airlines or its partners then this probably isn’t the best card for you.
Read our full Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card review.
Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card (not currently available)
The Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard credit card offers a high tiered rewards rate in your choice of one of six categories. You will earn 3% cash back on your choice of one of the following:
- Gas stations (default)
- Office supply stores
- TV/telecom & wireless
- Computer services
- Business consulting services
You also earn 2% cash back on dining (for the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter) and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Obviously, it depends if your business spends heavily in these categories as to whether this is the best option for you but it’s certainly a compelling deal in the Small Business credit card industry.
- Generous sign-up bonus that is easily attainable (a $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening).
- No annual fee and cash rewards don’t expire.
- Great rewards rates if your business spends heavily on any of the six choice categories.
- You get 75% more cash back on every purchase when you’re a Preferred Rewards for Business Platinum Honors tier member. That means you will earn 5.25% on your selected choice category, 3.5% on dining and unlimited 1.75% cash back on all other purchases.
- The 2% rewards rate on restaurants is limited to actual restaurants, coffee shops and cafes are not included like they are with some other cards.
- The guidelines for what qualifies as an office supply store are also somewhat strict, so make sure to check out the details to ensure you’ll still benefit.
Read our full Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard review.
Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card (not currently available)
For small businesses that clock a lot of miles, you might want to consider the Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard in 2020. The card offers 1.5 points on every dollar you spend and 3 points per dollar spent on travel booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center. That means you get maximum flexibility with no blackout dates. If your business takes you outside of the U.S. you can use your card happily knowing that you won’t be incurring foreign transaction fees. Your rewards with this card are unlimited which is generous for a no annual fee card.
- A sign-up offer of 30,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of opening your account (worth $300 in statement credit toward travel expenses).
- If you’re a Business Advantage Relationship Rewards Platinum Honors tier client, you get a 75% rewards bonus on the base earn of every purchase you make. As a result, you earn 2.62 points for every $1 you spend and 4.12 points per every $1 you spend at the Bank of America Travel Center.
- There are business cards with more generous rewards rates.
Read our full Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard review.
Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card (not currently available)
If your business requires you to regularly travel the routes frequented by Alaska Airlines, the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card can give you access to Alaska Companion Fare once a year. On the anniversary of opening your account, you will receive a companion fare starting at $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees). That, in itself, can be worth the $50 annual fee for the company (plus $25 per card). Alaska also allows you to transfer miles to its airline partners which increases the flexibility and number of destinations at your disposal for 2020.
- 40,000 bonus miles when you make $2,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days.
- The Companion Fare starts at $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees).
- You get a free checked bag on Alaska flights for you and up to six other passengers.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- There are business travel cards offering higher rewards rates.
- If you require multiple cards for authorized users it could get expensive at $25 per card.
Read our full Alaska Airlines Visa Business card review.
What is Bank of America?
Bank of America (often abbreviated as BofA) is the second biggest full-service bank in the U.S. (by total assets). Compared with its competitors, it’s behind only J.P Morgan Chase & Co.
Biggest banks in the U.S. by assets
||JP Morgan Chase & Co.
||Bank of America
||Wells Fargo & Co.
Source: “Top 15 largest banks in the US” – Bankrate.com
Bank of America has both retail banking and corporate banking operations across the United States and in more than 35 countries.
The bank was the first to offer a licensed general-purpose credit card with the BankAmericard in 1966. Ever since, BofA has been well-known for its credit card line up, covering the spectrum from cash back to travel to business.
In addition to credit cards, Bank of America offers financial products and services including mortgages, car loans, checking and savings accounts and investments through Merrill Lynch.
Why choose Bank of America?
Bank of America credit card perks vary depending on the card you choose, but there are a lot of lesser-known benefits for cardholders. Examples include:
- Museums on Us, which offers free museum visits at more than 200 U.S. museums on the first full weekend of each month
- $0 liability coverage if your card is lost or stolen
- Access to FICO Score
- Mobile banking
Bank of America credit cards can provide increased value for existing Bank of America clients. If you deposit your credit card rewards into a Bank of America checking or savings account, you will receive a 10% boost on what you’ve earned. Plus, those in good standing can even be eligible for automatic approval of a credit line increase with BofA.
Bank of America Preferred Rewards
Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program takes a lot of their services — including credit cards — from good to great. There are three tiers of Preferred Rewards, and your tier is calculated using your combined balances in your Bank of America banking and/or your Merrill accounts. You need to enroll in the program, but once you do, you will automatically be moved up as your balances grow.
This is another instance when using Bank of America for both your checking and saving needs can help you maximize the value you get from their services. When you use Bank of America Preferred Rewards, you can boost your rewards bonus that you earn on your BoA credit cards, qualify for auto loan and home equity discounts, take advantage of an interest rate booster for saving accounts and so much more.
Here is a simple breakdown of how each tier can help you earn more with your BoA credit card:
Gold Preferred Rewards
Gold Preferred Rewards requires a balance of $20,000 – $50,000 (it’s calculated as a three-month average on combined balances). If you qualify for Gold, you get a 25% rewards bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards, as well as other banking benefits.
Platinum Preferred Rewards
Platinum Preferred Rewards requires a balance of $50,000 to $100,000 and gives you a 50% boost on your rewards with eligible Bank of America credit cards. Additionally, you’ll receive a host of other benefits, such as increased savings rates and reduced mortgage origination fee.
Platinum Honors Rewards
Platinum Honors Rewards clients have a three-month average combined balance of over $100,000 and qualify for a huge 75% rewards bonus on eligible Bank of America credit cards.
If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, make sure to factor the rewards bonus into your analysis of their credit card offers.
How to decide which card is best for you
It’s important to have a firm understanding of what you’re looking for from your credit card. Here are a few things you should consider before applying:
Your financial goals and personal spending habits
There is no one-size-fits-all credit card. Determining which card will offer you the most value comes down to your goals and spending habits. If one of your 2020 resolutions is to travel more, one of Bank of America’s travel rewards cards might be a good fit for you. If you’re interested in managing high-interest debt, look for the best offer for doing a balance transfer with BofA.
It’s also important to understand your spending habits, because certain cards within a category might offer bonus rewards for certain expenses. Knowing which categories you spend the most in each month will help you choose a card that will earn the most rewards.
Perks and benefits
A good credit card should offer benefits that are easy to use and a rewards system that works best for you. For instance, frequent travelers will find the most value with a travel-focused rewards card that offers perks such as travel statement credits, lounge access and trip insurance. Parents and other everyday shoppers might like the simplicity of a flat-rate cash back card with features like extended warranty and purchase protection.
Many cards offer a sign-up bonus after you hit certain spending requirements. Just because a card has a large sign-up bonus, however, does not mean that it’s automatically a better card for you.
For example, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card offers 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 or more in the first 90 days of account opening, along with a $100 statement credit for a limited time and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). It’s a tempting offer for frequent travelers loyal to Alaska Airlines, but a big bundle of airline miles might not have the same value today that it did in 2019.
When looking at sign-up bonuses, it’s also important to note whether you can realistically hit the minimum spending requirement. If you have a smaller budget, a card with a smaller sign-up bonus might be easier to qualify for.
If you ever plan on carrying a balance on your credit card, APR (annual percentage rate) is extremely important because it determines how much interest you pay. Variable APRs differ from card to card but usually fall between 17 and 30 percent based on creditworthiness. Some cards also offer an introductory 0% APR period when you first sign up for the card, which can help you pay off large expenses with a temporary break from paying interest.
How we chose our top-rated Bank of America cards
Bankrate’s personal finance experts have evaluated the top Bank of America cards according to our 5-star rating system. The list of criteria for rating credit cards includes:
Whether the card offers cash back, travel points/miles or multi-purpose rewards for eligible purchases and the potential returns based on rewards rate (1 percent cash back per $1 spent, 1 mile per $1 spent, and so on).
Perks and benefits
Whether the card offers extras such as retail discounts, extended warranties on purchases, travel insurance and financial management tools.
Whether the card charges an annual fee and if so, how much the card’s overall value and benefits might offset the fee.
Whether the card has a sign-up bonus, welcome offer or similar sign-up incentive and how much it adds to the card’s overall value.
How the card’s annual percentage rate (APR) compares with current averages as an indicator of cost and value.
Foreign transaction fee
Whether the card charges a foreign transaction fee for international purchases and how the fee affects the card’s overall value.
Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, loans, mortgages and other personal finance products for Bankrate since 2018. His work has also appeared on websites including Nasdaq.com, Zillow.com and The Simple Dollar. He was previously an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to email@example.com.
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