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Is the Bank of America Premium Rewards card the travel card you should get?

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Choosing the ideal travel credit card can help you garner coveted perks and benefits to round out your travel exploits, both near and far. Plus, you can take advantage of discounted travel with credit cards that allow you to earn and redeem your rewards toward travel accommodations.

Considering all these potential travel credit card perks, we’re going to take a look at the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card to see how it stacks up against similar cards in the mid-tier travel credit card space. The long and short of it is that this card doesn’t offer much for travel enthusiasts—except for existing Bank of America customers in the Preferred Rewards program.

However, before you scratch this card off your list, we’ll break down some of its features and who it might make sense for. Here’s what you need to know about this card.

Quick card highlights

  • Rewards rate: 2X points per dollar on travel and dining purchases; 1.5X points per dollar on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: 50,000 online bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Regular APR: 16.24 percent to 23.24 percent (variable)

Additional card perks and benefits

  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Covers your application fee for either program every four years ($25 per year).
  • Up to $100 incidental airline credit. Annual credit that covers eligible costs like baggage fees, seat upgrades, changes to your flight, lounge access or in-flight purchases like food and beverages.
  • Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection. Offers access to perks like automatic room upgrades (when available), late checkout, complimentary Wi-Fi and breakfast, VIP Guest status as well as a $25 food and beverage credit.

The Premium Rewards card has a sizable welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in purchases on the card within the first 90 days after account opening, which is equal to $500. You can use your Premium Rewards points for travel booked through the Bank of America Travel Center, gift cards or cash back in the form of a statement credit or a deposit into an eligible Bank of America or Merrill account.

You can earn a respectable 2X rewards on travel and dining, though there are ways to earn more (which we’ll cover below in more detail). However, there seems to be some glaring omissions regarding additional protections and perks we usually see with travel cards. Notably, this card has no extended warranty and purchase protection, travel cancellation/delay insurance or rental car coverage.

Boosted earnings with the Preferred Rewards Membership program

This card does take on a different meaning if you’re part of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, which is an invite-only incentive program of Bank of America and its investment arm, Merrill. There’s no fee to join, and you stand to earn an additional 25 percent to 75 percent more in rewards for each dollar you spend on your Premium Rewards card. The only requirement is to maintain a pretty high balance with the bank to qualify.

There are additional benefits to being in the program, including savings boosters and discounts on loan products and brokerage services based on the tier you fall into. Below is a table that shows you how to qualify for each tier:

Tier Balance required Bonus
Gold $20,000 to $49,999 25%
Platinum $50,000 to $99,999 50%
Platinum Honors $100,000 to $999,999 75%
Diamond $1,000,000 to $9,999,999 75%
Diamond Honors  $10 million or more 75%

Though you need to maintain a significant amount of money on deposit with the bank, you’ll find it can really boost your earnings with the Premium Rewards card. At the highest tier, you could earn up to 3.5X points on travel and dining purchases and up to 2.62X points on your everyday spending categories that don’t fit into the card’s bonus categories of dining and travel.

How does the Bank of America Premium Rewards card compare to other travel cards?

If you were to compare the Premium Rewards card to similar mid-tier cards in this space, it would likely be the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Citi Premier® Card. Both cards have a $95 annual fee but offer slightly more travel benefits, including a long list of travel partners that Bank of America credit cards lack. Also, these cards can be used as part of card pairing strategies that boost your rewards and redemption values: the Chase trifecta or Citi trifecta.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred semi-recently revamped its rewards structure, increasing the rewards rates for dining, travel and grocery spending, plus adding rewards for Lyft rides and streaming services. It’s also worth noting that the Sapphire Preferred points can be worth 25 percent more toward travel spend in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Further, the card now offers a $50 annual hotel stay credit and an anniversary bonus (which gives you 10 percent of the points you earned for that year in the form of more Ultimate Rewards points).

The Citi Premier Card features a higher rate of rewards for more common spending categories: 3X on restaurant, supermarket, gas station, hotel and air travel purchases. The welcome bonus of 60,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months of account opening has more value when you redeem them strategically. Normally, ThankYou points can be redeemed at a 1:1 value for non-travel options, but with the right Citi airline transfer partner, you could bump your bonus up to $1,020 (according to The Points Guy’s 1.7 cent point valuation).

Is the Bank of America Premium Rewards card for you?

If you’re looking within the mid-tier credit card space, this card doesn’t compete as well with similar travel cards in terms of earning and redeeming rewards. Additionally, the card perks and benefits are slim compared to its mid-tier counterparts.

Honestly, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card will probably be more valuable if you’re a Preferred Rewards member, which at least lets you earn a boosted rewards rate on your spending in select categories. Even then, the redemption options are not as valuable as other cards with boosted redemptions for travel and travel partners, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Citi Premier.

The information about the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card was last updated on April 6th, 2022.

Written by
Aja McClanahan
Personal Finance Writer
Aja McClanahan is an author, blogger and speaker on personal finance and entrepreneurship. Aja is the author of "How a Mother Should Talk About Money with Her Daughter."
Edited by
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