Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students review

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Garrett Yarbrough  in  Student How we rate our cards  | 

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Annual Fee:
N/A
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR for the first 12 Statement Closing Dates following the opening of your account.
Regular APR:
13.99% - 23.99% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

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Best student travel card

  • Rewards rate: 1.5X points on all purchases
  • Welcome offer: 25,000 points after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: 0 percent for 12 billing cycles
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable

Before you embark on a study abroad program, the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students can provide one of the best sign-up bonuses and flat-rate rewards programs you’ll find on a student credit card.

However, it’s important to weigh how much you’ll take the travel credit redemption route versus the cash rewards option. If you don’t mind the steep point value drop-off for rewards outside travel, the Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students card is one of the best travel credit cards for students.

Current sign-up bonus

After spending $1,000 in purchases within your first 90 days, you’ll earn 25,000 points. These points are worth the most as a travel statement credit at 1 cent apiece, meaning your bonus is worth an impressive $250 toward travel.

This is an excellent deal for students since welcome offers are not usually a given on student cards. Even compared to other cards of this caliber, this is a great sign-up bonus that you can easily nab with an upcoming plane ticket purchase.

Rewards

The Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students delivers solid rewards and a nice sampling of redemption choices when compared to other student credit cards. But in practice, the possibilities are a bit shallower.

Earning rewards

This is a fantastic starter card if you want to get your toes wet with straightforward flat-rate rewards. You’ll earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases. Plus, you won’t have to deal with point expiration for the life of your account, blackout dates or limited airline choices if you’re new to overseas travel.

The rewards are even richer if you already bank with Bank of America. The Travel Rewards for Students is an eligible Preferred Rewards card, so you can earn between 25 to 75 percent more rewards on each purchase, depending on qualifying balances in other Bank of America accounts.

Redeeming rewards

The best way to redeem points is for a statement credit on qualifying travel purchases, including a wide scope of expenses from flights and tourist attractions to bus rides and parking fees. Your points can cover eligible travel purchases within 12 months prior to the redemption date

You can also choose to receive cash rewards (as a check or direct deposit into an eligible Merrill Cash Management Account) or a gift card. Travel credit and cash rewards redemptions require a minimum of 2,500 points and gift cards 3,125 points to redeem.

The variety of redemption methods are nice on paper, but you’ll get the most value when you redeem rewards for travel.

How much are points worth?

Points are worth the most toward a travel statement credit at 1 cent each. You’ll get significantly less value if you choose to redeem for cash rewards, which water down your points to a 0.6 cent value. Bank of America states that your point value may vary toward gift cards, so that means you may get more value out of redeeming for gift cards than cash back.

If travel is your goal, this shouldn’t hinder your ability to use rewards. But if you’re searching for more flexibility, a straight cash back credit card might make more sense for you.

Benefits

The Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students card’s biggest stumbling block is the complete absence of any travel or student-oriented benefits outside no foreign transaction fees.

In fact, even non-travel Capital One cards at the student/limited credit level carry standard travel perks, such as auto rental collision damage waiver insurance, travel accident insurance and 24-hour travel assistance services.

Rates and fees

Naturally, this travel card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. There is also no annual fee—a nice perk for students just learning the world of rewards.

If you’re applying because you have a study abroad opportunity coming up, the 12-billing cycle 0 percent purchase intro APR (13.99 percent to 23.99 percent variable APR thereafter) is a wonderful offer to keep interest at bay from any large purchases it takes to make the leap, like airfare and enrollment costs.

How the Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students compares to other student cards

Overall, the Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students card yields one of the best rewards rates and sign-up bonuses among student cards, but the travel benefits and rewards value outside travel are weak by comparison. Travel statement credits are useful while abroad, but a cash back card can provide similar reward rates with more redemption flexibility and long-term value.

Even another Bank of America student card may offer a better value. The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for Students earns 3 percent back in a choice category—including travel—2 percent back on wholesale clubs and grocery stores, along with 1 percent back on all other purchases. Although the 2 and 3 percent categories are capped at $2,500 per quarter in combined purchases (then 1 percent back) the card might have more long-term rewards potential.

If you still want flat-rate rewards, however, the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One card provides up to 1.25 percent cash back if you make your card payment on time (1 percent cash back on purchase, boosted to 1.25 percent for on-time bill payments). Plus, this card offers more travel and student features, including a $5 per month credit toward select streaming services for 12 months (*Exclusions apply).

Here’s a look at some other rewards cards that might be a better alternative:

Card Rewards rate Annual fee Welcome bonus
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
  • 3 percent cash back on a category of choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement/furnishings
  • 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 per quarter in combined 2 and 3 percent category purchases, then 1 percent back)
  • 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
$0 $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days.
Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
  • 1 percent back on all purchases. Increases to 1.25 percent for that month if the card is paid on time
$0 $60 streaming subscription credit: $5 per month for 12 months if the card is paid on time (*Exclusions apply).
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases
$39 N/A

 

Best cards to pair the Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students card with

The best cards to partner with Bank of America’s student travel card will add more reward opportunities and student or travel benefits to your arsenal.

The Bank of America Cash Back student card, for instance, would rack up higher-value rewards on everyday living expenses, and it also qualifies for Preferred Rewards.

On the other hand, a rotating bonus category card like the Discover it® Student Cash Back can earn up to 5 percent cash back on purchases in its quarterly bonus categories when you active (up to $1,500 in combined purchases, then 1 percent). On top of that, it matches all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year and offers a $20 statement credit each year your GPA is 3.0 or above (for up to five years).

Bankrate’s Take—Is the Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students card worth it?

By all appearances, the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students is a solid, straightforward starter card—but “straightforward” becomes “stripped-down” in application.

It carries a high-earning rewards rate on all purchases and a hefty sign-up bonus compared to other student cards, and its redemption options seem diverse as well. But the Bank of America student travel card’s points lose power for anything outside travel statement credits.

It’s one of the few student cards specifically tailored toward travel, which makes it a natural choice if you’re looking to study abroad. But since you lose rewards value on non-travel redemptions, you might want to consider a flat-rate student cash back card if you don’t travel often.

Pros

  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • Unlimited 1.5X points on all purchases—a high rewards rate for a student card
  • Can earn 25 percent to 75 percent more rewards on all purchases as a Preferred Rewards member if you have an eligible Bank of America banking account with a qualifying balance

Cons

  • Redeeming for cash back drops your points’ value to 0.6 cents
  • No worthwhile travel or student-oriented benefits outside zero foreign transaction fees

All information about the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students and The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.