Top Rated For
Best Credit Cards for Students
Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Takes improving their finances seriously and wants recognition for using credit responsibly
Looks for deals that make a limited budget go further
The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students is best for travel-minded students who want to use rewards to help pay for their next trip or while studying and trekking abroad. The card’s sign-up bonus and rewards rate are more than competitive, but unlike some student cards, you may need good credit (or a co-signer) to qualify.
Generous sign-up bonus
Decent rewards rate
Long 0% APR promotion
No foreign transaction fee
You may need good credit
Low value when redeeming rewards as cash
- Generous sign-up bonus: Many student credit cards don’t offer a sign-up bonus, and if they do, they’re not always worth much. This card’s 25,000 bonus points are worth $250 in statement credits for travel purchases.
- Decent rewards rate: Some student credit cards offer bigger bonuses for specific types of purchases, but this card’s 1.5 points per $1 spent applies to everything, and unlike many competitors, there’s no cap on how much you can earn. Plus, you’ll get another 1.5 points per $1 spent on travel booked through the Bank of America Travel Center.
- Long 0% APR promotion: Your purchases won’t accrue any interest for the first 12 billing cycles, about twice as long as other student cards that offer an introductory APR. While it’s best to avoid carrying a balance (particularly as you’re establishing good credit card habits) you’ll have a year if you need some time to pay off a particularly large purchase. (Just remember your APR after that will jack up to a variable 16.49%-24.49%, depending on your creditworthiness.)
- No foreign transaction fee: Some student cards charge a fee of as much as 3% of each transaction when you make purchases abroad. If you’re planning to take the card on an international trip, this card is the better choice. Foreign transaction fees can more than cancel out the rewards you’ll earn.
- You may need good credit: Unlike with many student credit cards, a good credit score is recommended to get approved. If you’re just establishing your credit history, you may need a co-signer who meets those standards. Luckily, Bank of America is one of the few major issuers that allows co-signers on its student credit cards.
- Low value when redeeming rewards as cash: Your rewards are worth the standard 1 cent per point if you use them to travel, but if you want cash back, you’ll get just 0.6 cents per point.
You’ll receive 25,000 bonus points if you spend at least $1,000 within 90 days of getting your card. That’s good for $250 in statement credits for travel purchases, or $150 if you redeem your points for cash. This is impressive, given most student cards have a meager bonus, if any. (Though some don’t require you to spend as much to get it.) Even if you have the Discover it Student Cash Back Card, which matches your rewards at the end of your first year, you’re not likely to net more.
Earning Points & Rewards
The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students has a simple, straightforward rewards structure that applies to all purchases. You’ll earn 1.5 points per $1 charged on your card, more than competing flat-rate cards. The only exception is a bonus for eligible purchases made through the Bank of America Travel Center. For those, you’ll earn 3 points per $1.
There’s no limit on your earnings and your points never expire.
Some student cards offer 2 or 3 points per $1—or even 5% cash back—but only for charges at certain locations, like grocery stores or gas stations. Depending on whether you spend the bulk of your money on the same things, you may earn more with a competing tiered-rate card.
The card offers a lot of flexibility on travel redemptions, and that’s how you’ll get the best value from your points.
You can use your card to book travel how and where you want, with no blackout dates or restrictions. Then you request a statement credit against your travel purchases, and the bank will credit you at a value of 1 cent per point. You can redeem your points through your online account, the bank’s mobile app, or over the phone. (And you can redeem them for up to 12 months after you make a travel purchase, so if you haven’t earned enough to cover a trip, you have a year of wiggle room.)
Bank of America defines eligible travel broadly. It includes purchases with airlines, hotels, timeshares, trailer parks, campgrounds, vehicle rental agencies, cruise lines, and travel agencies as well as boat rentals, parking lot fees, tolls, and more. Even charges at amusement parks and circuses qualify. In-flight goods and duty-free airport purchases are excluded, however.
You can also redeem your points for cash back, but at only 0.6 cents per point, you won’t get the most bang for your buck. You can also purchase gift cards with your rewards, and redemption values for those vary.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
If spending $1,000 in 90 days is a tall order for you, consider adding an authorized user, such as a parent, so you don’t miss out on the sign-up bonus. That person can use the card and then pay you back for his or her purchases. (Just make sure the person is reliable and will reimburse you right away, since you are responsible for any charges made by an authorized user.)
Use the card for everything you can, but avoid spending more than you can pay off at the end of each month. Not only is it a bad habit to get into, but you don’t want interest charges to eat into your rewards.
When it’s time to redeem your rewards, make sure to use them for travel rather than cash back to maximize their value.
In J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, Bank of America rates about average, but its mobile app is “better than most” at No. 3 out of nine card issuers. The bank also offers a live chat feature on its website, or you can reach customer service over the phone 24/7.
If you opt-in, Bank of America offers free monthly updates on your FICO credit score, a great feature for college students just starting to establish their credit history. Take advantage of the perk as you develop good credit habits.
Bank of America offers standard security features like zero liability and chip card technology.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Card’s Fees
This card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, which is important if you’re planning to study or travel abroad. It also doesn’t charge an annual fee, which is relatively standard for this category of cards, but important for a starter card nonetheless.