Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card review: Flat-rate travel rewards with no annual fee
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Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Overview
The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is ideal for travelers who value versatility, or even occasional travelers that dine in more than fly out. You’ll be able to earn generous flat-rate rewards on all your purchases—not just travel expenses. And because this travel rewards credit card isn’t tied to specific hotel or airline partners, you can book your travel with any provider and receive a statement credit.
Bank of America credit cards also have a looser definition of travel compared to cards from other issuers, allowing you to receive a statement credit for purchases at campgrounds, travel agencies, zoos, art galleries and more. If you’ve shelved your travel plans for the moment though, you can also redeem points for a statement credit toward dining purchases.
However, there aren’t any travel-specific features to speak of, and your rewards can’t be used to directly book travel through an issuer portal or a transfer partner—which is likely to be a dealbreaker for quite a few cardholders. Unless you’re a Preferred Rewards member that needs an easy-to-manage travel card, the standard Travel Rewards card essentially becomes a flat-rate cash back card with more reward redemption red tape.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- Minimum redemption requirement of 2,500 points for travel or cash back
- Better travel-related category coverage, but the rewards are only valuable if you’re a Preferred Rewards member
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Unlimited 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases
- Welcome offer: 25,000 bonus points ($250 value toward travel purchases) if you make $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of opening the account
- Annual fee: None
- Purchase intro APR: 0 percent for 18 billing cycles
- Balance transfer intro APR: 0 percent for 18 billing cycles on balance transfers made within first 60 days
- Regular APR: 16.24% – 26.24% variable APR
Current welcome offer
Bank of America is currently offering 25,000 bonus points when you spend at least $1,000 in qualifying purchases within 90 days of opening the account. If you redeem these points for a statement credit, they’ll be worth about $250 toward travel. Considering that this card has no annual fee, this is a generous welcome offer.
Compared to other no annual fee cards’ sign-up bonuses, its $250 value is slightly higher than the $200 value you see on average. Keep in mind though that you may be spending double to qualify for that extra $50. Several cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offer a bonus worth up to $300 cash back- earn an extra 1.5 percent on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). That’s 6.5 percent on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5 percent on dining and drugstores, and 3 percent on all other purchases.
However, you’ll probably spend at least $1,000 in your first 90 days with your Bank of America Travel Rewards card anyway, so the higher spending requirement isn’t a big deal.
This card offers a high rewards rate on everyday purchases and travel booked through Bank of America, but these travel rewards work a bit differently than typical bonus miles. Instead of using rewards to book travel, your Bank of America travel rewards go toward statement credits on travel or dining purchases—meaning this card works more like a specialized cash back credit card.
If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25 percent to 75 percent more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 2.62 points for every $1 spent.
Here’s a quick primer on how to earn and maximize your Bank of America travel rewards:
How you earn
The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card allows you to earn unlimited 1.5 points for every dollar you spend on all purchases. You can also earn 3 points per dollar on travel bookings and other purchases through the Bank of America Travel Center (except insurance).
However, the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program gives the Travel Rewards card an edge over similar competing cards, if you already have an eligible account with Bank of America. Depending on which status tier you hold, you’ll earn 25 to 75 percent bonus points on every purchase. That means Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards members can earn up to 2.62X points on all purchases.
How to redeem
You can redeem your points for gift cards, cash or a statement credit to cover travel-related purchases. Even better, you can request credit for your travel-related purchases up to 12 months after you make them. That opens the door to exceptional deals that you might not get with other travel reward programs, such as discount bookings through external travel websites. Just keep in mind that there’s a 2,500-point redemption minimum for travel credits and cash and a 3,125-point minimum for gift cards. You can receive cash back as a check or direct deposit to an eligible checking or savings account with Bank of America or an eligible Merrill Cash Management Account.
Perhaps one of the best aspects of the Bank of America Travel Rewards card’s travel credit redemption is that it covers a wide range of purchase categories that may not usually qualify as travel or dining. For example, you can get statement credits for admission tickets to art galleries and aquariums, purchases at bars and nightclubs or even eligible purchases with real estate agents. Some travel or dining-related expenses like in-flight goods and services and duty-free airport purchases aren’t eligible for statement credits, so here’s a handy list of example categories that you can put travel credits toward:
Bank of America Travel Rewards card categories eligible for travel credits
|Eligible travel-related category examples||Eligible dining-related category examples|
How much are the rewards worth?
If you redeem your points for a travel statement credit, they’re worth 1 cent each, so 25,000 points equal $250. Cash and gift cards usually give you less bang for your buck. When you redeem for cash, your points are only worth 0.6 cents each (or $150 for every 25,000 points). The value of your points when you redeem gift cards varies by retailer.
Compared to Chase and other issuers with traditional travel reward programs, you may get more bonus category flexibility but you can’t transfer your points to travel partners at a higher value. Bank of America Travel Rewards card points are stuck at a 1-cent-maximum.
Other cardholder perks
The Bank of America Travel Rewards card isn’t a powerhouse for perks like other travel-oriented rewards credit cards. It offers basic features like free access to your credit score, overdraft protection and account alerts, plus there are a few extra benefits outside the Preferred Rewards program that might be helpful during your travels.
If you bank with Bank of America or invest with Merrill Edge, you may be able to join the Preferred Rewards program, which gives you the chance to earn a higher rewards rate on your purchases. Plus, you could receive other benefits like boosted interest rates on savings accounts and reduced interest rates on your home equity and auto loans.
Depending on how much money you keep in your combined Bank of America and Merrill investment accounts, you could earn up to a 75 percent bonus on your credit card rewards. So, if you have a combined balance of at least $100,000 and make a purchase that earns 100 points, you could actually get up to 175 points as a Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards member.
Bank of America Preferred Rewards status tiers
- Gold (at least a $20,000 combined balance): 25 percent bonus rewards
- Platinum (at least a $50,000 combined balance): 50 percent bonus rewards
- Platinum Honors (at least a $100,000 combined balance): 75 percent bonus rewards
Bank of America cardholders have exclusive access to BankAmeriDeals, the issuer’s version of card-linked limited-time offer programs like Amex Offers or Chase Offers. You can log into your account and usually earn anywhere from 5 to 15 percent extra cash back (up to a certain limit) at participating restaurants and other merchants after activating the respective offer. BankAmeriDeals won’t rake in big bucks, but the “coins” you get for regularly using the program can help you obtain upgraded deals.
Visa Signature benefits
As a Visa credit card, your Bank of America Travel Rewards card has access to a portfolio of Visa Signature perks that can come in handy on the road. Contact your issuer to see which features your card specifically carries, but you can expect to receive standard benefits like:
- Extended warranty protection
- Visa Signature® Concierge services
- Roadside Dispatch®
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Travel and emergency assistance
Museums On Us
If you love planning day trips to popular museums, then this benefit is an underrated gem. Simply presenting your Bank of America debit or credit card and a valid photo ID will get you free admission to 225-plus “cultural institutions” during the first weekend of each month.
Rates and fees
One of the main benefits of the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is the lack of fees. There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, which is great news if you’re planning to travel abroad. There’s also a 0 percent APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles and on balance transfers made within your first 60 days (then a 16.24% – 26.24% variable ongoing APR), which can be helpful when financing a big purchase during the first year. You’ll be charged $10 or a 3 percent fee, whichever is greater, for each transfer you make.
How the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card compares to other travel cards
The Bank of America Travel Rewards card is one of the best travel credit cards with no annual fee if you value flexibility. I doesn’t operate like a traditional travel card with bonus points or miles but instead works like a flat-rate cash back card except your statement credits are restricted to travel and dining-related categories. If you don’t travel frequently and “flexibility” means occasionally redeeming for cash rewards, you’re probably better off with a true flat-rate card. For those who want more well-rounded benefits, another card may be a better fit.
Bank of America Travel Rewards vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Bank of America Travel Rewards’ focuses on activities during your travels like dining and attractions. This makes it a great choice for those who don’t always need a flight or rental car for a vacation. However, a true travel card can also offer similar versatility if you want more travel-based perks.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers more traditional travel card rewards but keeps the streamlined experience. It offers a higher rewards rate of an unlimited 2X miles on all qualifying purchases, up to a $100 credit for TSA Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees and the chance to earn a bigger welcome bonus. It also rewards actual hotel and rental car travel purchases at a higher 5X rate if you book through the Capital One Travel portal.
On the flip side, the card charges a $95 annual fee, doesn’t offer an introductory APR and has a higher-than-average APR (17.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable) than the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card. The Venture card also has a bit less redemption flexibility in the sense that you can’t redeem miles to cover some outlier travel-oriented purchases like tourist attraction tickets and dining expenses, but you can use your Capital One miles in the same statement credit-like manner to cover eligible travel purchases made in the last 90 days.
To the Venture card’s advantage, its rewards can gain value with the right transfer partner. ccording to Bankrate’s latest mile valuation, Venture miles are worth an average of 2 cents per mile when transferred to a high-value partner, and the bulk of Capital One’s partners have a 1:1 transfer rate. So if you’re willing to trade some elbow grease for more rewards value, choosing the Venture card is likely the wiser route.
Bank of America Travel Rewards vs. Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
If you’re on the fence about investing money into a card with an annual fee but you’d like to benefit from the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, you might want to look into the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. It has the same $95 annual fee as the Venture card, but with higher reward rates and much better travel benefits than the standard Bank of America Travel Rewards card.
You’ll also get prized travel insurance typically found on top-tier travel cards like travel & emergency assistance services, lost luggage reimbursement and auto rental collision damage waiver coverage.
Although the 2X points on travel and dining are only a small upgrade (the reward rates are lower than their counterparts on the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card) and the card remains relatively frill-less, you’re getting plenty for the price. In fact, frequent flyers can completely offset the annual fee without rewards spending via up to $100 in annual airline incidental statement credits and up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credits (applies every four years). Keep in mind that the incidental credits only cover costs like seat upgrades, baggage fees, airline lounge access and in-flight services rather than general airfare, but savvy travelers will find the Premium Rewards a much better deal than the base Travel Rewards card.
Best cards to pair with the Bank of America Travel Rewards card
Since the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is a flat-rate card, the best cards to pair with should reward the categories you spend the most in with higher reward rates. Your Travel Rewards card points’ best use is to cover the travel and dining purchases you make with it, so you’ll want a card that covers your specialized spending outside those two categories.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express could be one of the best cash back cards for the rest of your everyday spending. It earns 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent) and on select U.S. streaming services, 3 percent back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases plus 1 percent on all other purchases. Granted, there is a $95 annual fee but the sheer amount of cash back can more than cover the entry cost.
The Bank of America Travel Rewards card doesn’t provide many travel benefits or rewards on some expenses like in-flight purchases, so it may also be worthwhile to look into a brand-specific airline credit card that will fill in those gaps.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card worth it?
The no annual fee Bank of America Travel Rewards card is a good choice for frequent travelers who value flexibility and are Preferred Rewards members that already bank with Bank of America. The travel rewards statement credit you’ll get after the fact means you won’t have to deal with blackout dates or travel restrictions when redeeming, and you have the freedom to book through third-party sites for better travel deals. You’ll also be able to use your points to cover a wide range of travel purchases from aquarium tickets to hotel stays, which aren’t covered by similar redemption options from other issuers,
However, there aren’t any travel-specific perks or opportunities to transfer rewards, so many cardholders looking for richer travel opportunities will find this card two-dimensional. Since your rewards are limited to travel or dining statement credit redemptions, a 2 percent flat-rate cash back card may even be a better option if you aren’t a Preferred Rewards member.