If you want to add a travel credit card to your wallet without paying a high annual fee, both the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card deserve your consideration.
As you compare them, you may discover one of the cards is a better fit for your spending patterns and financial goals. For example, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card will handsomely reward you if you also carry a high balance in your Bank of America or Merrill savings account. On the other hand, using the Chase Sapphire Preferred could really pay off if you use it to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
We’ve carefully reviewed the details of both options. So, keep reading to see which one makes the most sense for you.
|Cards||Bank of America Premium Rewards||Chase Sapphire Preferred|
|Welcome bonus||50,000 online bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days||80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening|
|Rewards rate||2X points on travel and dining purchases; 1.5X points on all other purchases||3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services), select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs); 5X points on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 2X points on all other travel; 1X points on everything else|
|Intro APR||15.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable APR||16.24 percent to 23.24 percent variable APR|
Bank of America Premium Rewards vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred highlights
Welcome bonus winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Both cards offer a generous welcome bonus, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred has the edge. The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card gives you 50,000 points for spending $3,000 within your first three months as a cardholder. However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred grants you 80,000 points if you meet a $4,000 spending requirement within your first three months.
Plus, your Bank of America Premium Rewards card points will always be worth just 1 cent each. Your Chase Sapphire Preferred points, on the other hand, could be worth as much as 2 cents apiece, if you redeem them with select travel partners through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, according to The Points Guy.
Rewards rate winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred
In general, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a better rewards rate. For example, you can earn 5X points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3X points on dining, online grocery orders and select streaming services, 2X points on general travel and 1X points on everything else.
While it’s possible to earn as much or more with the Bank of America Premium Rewards card, you’ll have to be a Platinum or Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards-level member to do so (two of the five membership levels offered through the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program).
To attain that status, though, you must maintain a three-month average balance in your Bank of America or Merrill savings account of $50,000 or $100,000, respectively. As a Platinum Preferred Rewards member, you’ll earn a total of 3X points on dining and travel and 2.25X points on all other purchases. If you reach the Platinum Honors level, you’ll earn 3.5X points on dining and travel and 2.62X points on all other spending.
Annual Fee winner: Tie
Both options charge a $95 annual fee, which is low for a travel credit card. We understand the hesitation to pay any fee, but both cards’ introductory bonuses easily make up for the initial expense—provided you pay off your balance in full each month to avoid getting hit with interest charges.
Plus, if you use either card regularly, you can also expect the rewards to outweigh the cost in the future. For example, you’ll see a return on your investment by using the Chase Sapphire Preferred to book just $1,900 worth of travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal per year. You’ll also come out ahead if you spend more than $396 a month on travel and dining using the Bank of America Premium Rewards card.
Foreign transaction fee winner: Tie
If you travel abroad regularly, we’ve got good news. Neither card charges foreign transaction fees, which means you can use both cards internationally without incurring extra costs.
Which card earns the most?
Under most circumstances, you’ll earn the most rewards using the Chase Sapphire Preferred. But, let’s look at an example scenario to see.
Bank of America Platinum Rewards vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred spending example
In a given month, say you use your Bank of America Platinum Rewards card to pay for $500 in dining purchases, $1,000 in travel purchases and $1,000 on everything else. The dining and travel categories earn you 2X points, so you’ll earn 3,000 points for those purchases. You’ll also earn 1,500 points for your other charges (at 1.5X points per dollar spent). Since points are worth 1 cent each, you’ll receive $45 in rewards.
Now, imagine using your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay for the same expenses. The dining category gets you 3X points, so you’ll earn 1,500 points for eating out. Travel not booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform and all other purchases earn you 2X points, for a total of 4,000 points. Assuming a point value of 1 cent apiece, you’ll receive $55 in rewards.
If you use the Ultimate Rewards portal to book your trip, you’ll get 5,000 points instead of 2,000. Then, if you redeem those points through the platform later, they’ll be worth 1.25 cents each, or $62.50. That means your $1,000 travel purchase could earn you more in rewards than all of your Bank of America Platinum Rewards card monthly spending combined.
However, let’s say you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member at the Platinum Honors tier. You’ll earn 3.5X points on dining and travel purchases (5,250 points) and 2.62X points on all other spending (2,620 points). So, with points valued at 1 cent each, you’ll earn $78.70 in rewards.
But, the total value of your Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards—when travel is booked and redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards platform—is $97.50 ($62.50 for the trip, $15.00 for dining and $20.00 for all other purchases).
Why should you get the Bank of America Premium Rewards?
Additional Bank of America Premium Rewards card benefits include:
- Up to $100 in credits to cover your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
- Up to an annual $100 credit for incidental airline expenses, such as seat upgrades, flight changes, baggage fees, in-flight purchases and more
- Access to the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection and the chain’s related benefits (where available), such as a $25 food and beverage credit, late checkout, automatic room upgrade, VIP guest status and more
You can redeem your Bank of America Premium Rewards card points for:
- Travel (booked through the Bank of America Travel Center)
- Gift cards
- Cash back
- Statement credits
Please note that you’ll need a minimum of 2,500 points to redeem for travel and 3,125 points to redeem for gift cards. Plus, unlike with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you won’t get a redemption bonus for putting your points toward travel.
Recommended credit score
You’ll need good or excellent credit to qualify for the Bank of America Premium Rewards card. So, be sure your credit score is 670 or higher before applying.
Why should you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
Additional benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card include:
- An anniversary bonus of 10 percent of the points you earned the previous year
- An annual $50 credit on lodging booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform
- Travel support in the form of baggage delay coverage, trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation insurance, rental car coverage and 24/7 emergency assistance
- Redemption options
- You can redeem your Chase Sapphire Preferred points for:
- Travel (note that booking with a Chase transfer partner through the Ultimate Rewards portal maximizes your rewards’ value)
- Statement credits
- Cash back
- Gift cards
- Chase Experience events
Note that if you use your points to cover a PayPal or Amazon.com purchase, they’ll only be worth 0.8 cents apiece.
Recommended credit score
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card also requires good or excellent credit to qualify. Be sure to check your score before submitting an application.
The bottom line
If you’re a loyal Bank of America customer with a significant savings account balance, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card could be the right option for you. But, if you plan to book a lot of travel (particularly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards platform), the Chase Sapphire Preferred card will likely suit you best.
However, you may want to consider getting both cards. That way, you can take advantage of both sets of perks.