Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free See more cards
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Hits the road often, whether for work or play See more cards
Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
If you have good credit and don’t want to be aligned with a particular airline or hotel chain, the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card is a solid option among general travel rewards credit cards. A consistent redemption value means no guesswork when using your points, and the rewards rates and travel benefits are competitive.
If you’re a Bank of America customer with at least $20,000 in an eligible Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account (or have the funds available to transfer), even better. You’ll get a significant boost in points, in some cases yielding very compelling rewards rates.
Decent rewards rates
Rewards bonus for customers with big account balances
Valuable travel benefits
No opportunity to transfer points to travel partners
- Decent rewards rates: While the bonus rate on travel and dining is relatively standard on this card (some competitors pay more) the base rewards rate is unusually high—1.5 points rather than 1 point per $1. That said, the Capital One Venture Rewards card charges the same annual fee and pays 2 points per $1 on all purchases, so dollar for dollar, you’d earn more points on that card. (Although the Capital One points are only as valuable if you redeem them for travel.)
- Rewards bonus for customers with big account balances: Cardholders with eligible Bank of America checking or savings accounts, or with eligible Merrill Lynch investment accounts, can earn 25% to 75% more in rewards if they have a big enough balance. That translates to a base rate of as much as 2.62 points per $1 and up to 3.5 points per $1 on travel and dining—a pretty compelling offer. (More on this in the Earning Points & Rewards section below.)
- Valuable travel benefits: The perks on this card are pretty good, especially considering some competitors with similar annual fees have recently eliminated various forms of travel insurance. Not only will you be covered for hassles like cancelled trips and lost luggage, but your statement will be credited for eligible travel-related expenses, including up to $100 a calendar year in qualifying incidentals with select U.S. airlines.
- No opportunity to transfer points to travel partners: When it comes time to use your rewards, you’re limited to Bank of America’s options. Unlike flexible card issuers such as Chase and American Express, Bank of America doesn’t offer any opportunity to transfer your points to airline and hotel loyalty programs.
Bonus for New Cardholders
You’ll earn 50,000 bonus points worth $500 if you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account. This may not be the biggest welcome offer valuewise—some cards offer bonuses worth up to $750—but it’s one of the easier offers to earn, given the relatively low spending requirement.
The minimum credit limit on this card is $1,500. If you’re not approved for a higher one, make sure to pay off your balance in full each month so you have enough room to meet the spending requirement. You’ll want to do this to avoid costly interest charges anyway.
Earning Points & Rewards
The Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card pays 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining, and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on everything else. This isn’t the best combination of rates, nor is it the worst. Some competitors with similar annual fees offer as good or higher rates on travel and dining, but not as good a base rate. Still others, like the Capital One Venture, offer double points across the board.
This card’s definition of travel purchases is expansive, covering things you would expect like airfare and hotel nights, but also parking, tolls, and even amusement park tickets.
Having a banking relationship with Bank of America may qualify you for the Preferred Rewards program where you can earn up to 75% more on each purchase. You’re eligible to enroll if you have an active Bank of America personal checking or Advantage Banking account and maintain a combined balance in a qualifying Bank of America deposit account or Merrill investment account.
The balance requirements are based on three-month averages. Here’s how the bonuses break out:
- Earn 25% bonus rewards at the Gold tier: at least $20,000 in combined balances
- Earn 50% bonus rewards at the Platinum tier: at least $50,000 in combined balances
- Earn 75% bonus rewards at the Platinum Honors tier: at least $100,000 combined balances
You could earn 2.25 points to 3.5 points for every $1 you spend on travel and dining and 1.87 to 2.62 points for every $1 you spend on other purchases. At the higher end, these are impressive rates that would be hard to beat.
Points are always worth 1 cent apiece, which means you don’t have to figure out the best way to maximize the value of your rewards. (And this gives this card a competitive edge over competition like the Capital One Venture card, which won’t give you full value if you redeem for cash back.)
You can redeem points for cash back via a deposit into a Bank of America checking or savings account, credit to eligible Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch accounts including 529 accounts, as a statement credit to your credit card, or for gift cards and other purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center.
There are no blackout dates or restrictions and your points don’t expire.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
While having a relationship with Bank of America is the best way to maximize the card’s rewards, the balance requirements are pretty hefty and may be unrealistic for many consumers. Besides using your card for everyday purchases—and of course, travel and dining—make sure to take advantage of travel benefits like reimbursement on the application fee for eligible airport clearance programs. That alone can recoup the cost of the annual fee.
When you apply, Bank of America may consider any other credit card accounts you have with the bank. If you have a Bank of America credit card with a lower interest rate than your new card, the bank may transfer your old credit card balance to the new, higher-APR account, without raising your credit limit.
Credit cards come with a variety of benefits, but editors at The Balance have determined some have an exceptional value. Several on this card make that cut:
- Airline fee reimbursement: Get a statement credit of up to $100 per calendar year for qualifying purchases with eligible U.S. airlines. These include seat upgrades, baggage fees, airport lounge fees, and in-flight services.
- Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement: Get a statement credit every four years to cover the application cost for one of these airport security shortcuts: $85 for TSA Precheck and $100 for Global Entry.
- Insurance coverage for lost or delayed luggage: If your luggage is lost or stolen, you can be reimbursed for the value of the bag and its contents. If your baggage is delayed six hours or more, you’ll be reimbursed for the cost of replacing essentials up to $100 per day, for up to five days.
- Insurance coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, or delay: If a trip is delayed 12 or more hours, you can be reimbursed for your costs, up to $500 per ticket. For canceled trips you will be reimbursed up to $5,000 per traveler.
- Emergency medical and evacuation benefits: This benefit applies if you or a family member become sick or injured while traveling and require emergency medical transportation and services.
For these benefits to kick in, you’ll need to have used your card for the original purchase. Also, check your benefits guide for additional benefit terms and coverage details.
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Extended warranties
- Refund when merchant won’t accept returned item
- Travel and emergency hotline
- Roadside assistance hotline
- Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
Bank of America ranked seventh in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, getting about average marks in all categories: overall satisfaction, interaction, credit card terms, communication, benefits and service, rewards, and key moments. The bank’s mobile app, however, got a “better than most” rating in a comparable J.D. Power survey.
It should also be noted that primary cardholders can opt-in to access their FICO score at no additional cost. The score is updated each month and available within the app or online. Customer service options include online chat and the ability to schedule an appointment for a telephone call to avoid waiting on hold for a customer service representative.
The Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card offers standard security features like chip technology.
Fees on this card are in line with industry standards for travel rewards credit cards, though it’s worth noting that not all travel cards charge an annual fee. Like most in the category, however, there are no fees on foreign transactions.