The Bank of America Premium Rewards Card is a solid alternative to transferrable points earning cards. This is especially true if you have over $50,000 in cash and investments in a Bank of America (BOFA) account. This credit card from Bank of America has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). But it can be very lucrative for those who want to keep earning simple.
The Premium Rewards Card earns 2x points on all general travel and dining purchases as well as 1.5x points for all other spend. This is a similar earning structure to the Chase Freedom Unlimited, but with a smaller multiplier for dining purchases. Plus, the 2x categories are also very broad, like those from Chase.
Furthermore, the Premium Rewards Card does not earn transferrable points or cash back. Instead, it earns “travel cash back”. Travel cash back is cash back that can only be redeemed for travel expenses. This makes it similar to the Discover It Miles.
Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program
BOFA’s Preferred Rewards Program increases rewards earned on BOFA credit cards. Those with BOFA accounts will see their rewards increase by a certain percentage depending on how much they have in their account. If a cardholder has multiple accounts, the bank takes the total amount in all accounts to determine the percentage.
Use the following table to determine your percentage and revised multipliers:
|Level||Minimum Amount Required||Percentage||2x Travel & Dining||1.5x Non-Bonus Spend|
|Platinum Honors Preferred||$100,000||75%||3.5x||2.625x|
Having a bank account (or several) with BOFA is nice if you have the Premium Rewards Card. Cardholders receive a 10% points bonus simply by having any bank account with BOFA. Those with at least one BOFA account will earn 2.2x points on general travel and dining and 1.65x points on non-bonus spend.
However, rewards earned for all purchases begin to outweigh earnings from a 2% cash back card for cardholders at the Platinum Preferred level. To get to this level, cardholders must have $50,000 total across all BOFA account(s).
Still, there are many transferrable points cards that offer higher multipliers for travel and dining without the five-figure requirement. If you like a certain issuer’s transfer partners, that issuer’s “ecosystem” might be worth looking at instead.
Plus, BOFA is offering a sign-up bonus worth 50,000 points (or $500) for the Premium Rewards Card. This bonus can be earned after spending $3,000 within the first three months. This is a nice bonus with a decent minimum spend for a mid-tier credit card.
Cash Back & Investment
This is the simplest way to redeem points. Points can be redeemed as a statement credit or deposited into a BOFA account. The latter option is recommended over the former because cash back can be invested into a 529 Savings Account or any Merrill Lynch or Merrill Edge account.
However, there are some travel purchases that cannot be paid for with transferrable points. Having a small balance of cash back is a great way to pay for these special purchases.
Bank of America Travel Portal
Alternatively, Premium Rewards cardholders can use the BOFA Travel Portal for booking travel. However, its usually expensive compared to a given airline, carrier, or hotel’s direct website. Price around before using the portal to potentially find better prices.
Redeeming for gift cards is another option. But its not the smartest one because your points will go a longer way with investing or even the travel portal.
The BOFA Premium Rewards Card offers several hundred dollars’ worth of benefits to offset its $95 annual fee. It can be a “long term keeper card” for some people, especially those in the BOFA Preferred Rewards Program.
$100 Airline Credit
This credit is nice for incidentals, seat upgrades, baggage fees, and other airline-related expenses that are not tickets. It’s very similar to the credit offered with the American Express Platinum Card.
$100 Global Entry / TSA Pre-Check Credit
Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check credits are ubiquitous among premium credit cards and is becoming more common with mid-tier cards. The Premium Rewards Card is one of the few mid-tier credit cards that offers these credits every 4-5 years.
Plus, the Premium Rewards Card comes with Trip Delay / Cancellation Insurance. This is nice if for cardholders who must cancel a trip for some reason. Each person who was supposed to go on the trip will be reimbursed up to $5,000. This money would have been spent on unused and prepaid travel expenses. If a cardholder’s flight is delayed at least 12 hours, they will be given up to $500 for ticket reimbursements.
The Premium Rewards Card also comes with Baggage Loss / Delay Insurance. Cardholders will be reimbursed for the contents of your luggage if its lost, damaged, or stolen. They will also be reimbursed $100 per day (for up to five days) if their bags are delayed at least six hours, you will be reimbursed $100 per day (for up to five days).
No Foreign Exchange Fees
This increasingly common benefit saves you 3% on all purchases made outside of the United States.
Check out the following cards if the BOFA Premium Rewards Card is not right for you:
Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great no annual fee alternative to the BOFA Premium Rewards Card. It earns cash back as a standalone credit card. But its rewards can be converted into Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points if you have a premium Chase credit card.
The Freedom Unlimited earns 5% cash back (or 5x UR points) on travel purchased from the Chase Travel Portal. It also earns 3% (or 3x UR points) on dining and pharmacy purchases, as well as 1.5% (1.5x UR points) on non-bonus spend.
Plus, Chase is offering a sign-up bonus worth $200 (or 20,000 UR points) for the Freedom Unlimited. This bonus can be earned by spending just $500 within the first three months. While this bonus is not as rich as that of the Premium Rewards Card, the minimum spend is $2,500 less. That’s a huge difference for many prospective cardholders.
The Citi Premier is an excellent alternative for international travelers who want to earn Citi Thank You points. That’s because it earns 3x TY points on five categories: Airfare, Hotels, Gas, Groceries, and Dining. This five-category earning structure is one of the best among mid-tier travel cards. And this is especially true given how powerful many of the Citi Premier’s competitors are.
Moreover, Citi is offering a sign-up bonus worth 60,000 TY points for the Premier. This bonus can be earned by spending $4,000 within the first three months. The Premier Card’s bonus is more valuable than the bonus for the Premium Rewards Rewards Card. But its minimum spend is also $1,000 more.
The Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). But its earning potential outshines that of the Premium Rewards Card for larger spenders and frequent travelers.
Bank of America Cash Rewards Card
This is the best BOFA alternative to the Premium Rewards Card. The Cash Rewards Card earns 3% cash back in the category of your choice. It also earns 2% cash back at Grocery Stores and Wholesale Clubs. However, its a MasterCard, which means that its not accepted at Costco.
Furthermore, BOFA is offering a sign-up bonus worth $200 for the Cash Rewards Card. It can be earned after spending just $500 within the first three months. That’s like getting a whopping 40% return on the first $500 put on the Cash Rewards Card.
Unfortunately, the Cash Rewards Card does not have any travel perks. But that’s to be expected with a cash back card. However, it has no annual fee, making it a great foundation card for your credit history.
The better card depends on your expenses. Those with more travel and dining expenses will do better with the Premium Rewards Card. But those with more varied expenses will do better with the Cash Rewards Card.
The Bank of America Premium Rewards Card is a great alternative to transferrable point and cash back cards for travelers. It has a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year) and some nice travel-related benefits comparable to other mid-tier cards.
But the potential rewards become even more enticing if you’re part of the BOFA Preferred Rewards Program, especially at the Platinum Preferred level or higher. For those who have at least $50,000 saved, invested, or waiting in a retirement or education fund, moving to BOFA and getting this card might pay off big.
Apply Today: Bank of America Premium Rewards Card