The Bank of America Travel Rewards and Bank of America Cash Rewards cards are two extremely rewarding no-annual-fee cards – find out which is best for you.
The Bank of America content was last updated on Jan. 24, 2022.
Bank of America takes customer loyalty to the next level with two credit cards that reward you for your spending habits and sprinkle in unique benefits you don’t often see elsewhere. Both the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card come with better rewards rates than you might expect from no-annual-fee cards.
Although both cards can be valuable for a variety of lifestyles, they’re particularly beneficial to those who also have Bank of America checking or savings accounts. Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients (those who meet certain account balance requirements) can get a rewards boost of up to 75% with either card.
Let’s examine which rewards credit better suits your spending habits.
Bank of America Travel Rewards vs. Cash Rewards
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
|Rewards rate||1.5 points per dollar on every purchase|
|Sign-up bonus||25,000 online points if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days|
$200 online cash rewards after spending $1,000 in first 90 days
|Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend)||$239||$262|
The Travel Rewards card earns 3 points on travel purchases booked through the Bank of America Travel Center (like flights, hotels and rental cars) and a flat 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase.
The Customized Cash Rewards card earns 3% cash back in the category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores, home improvement/furnishings), 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale club purchases and 1% cash back on other purchases. However, keep in mind that your rewards in the 3% and 2% categories are capped at $2,500 in combined spending each quarter, then they drop to 1%.
Cash back or points: that is the question. Really, it comes down to whether you’d prefer to earn points you can convert to statement credits or use toward travel, or if you’d rather earn straightforward cash.
The Bank of America Travel Rewards offers a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. Bank of America Travel points are valued at 1 cent per point, so 25,000 points would equal $250. Not a bad sign-up bonus, considering this card charges no annual fee.
For a starter cash back card, the Bank of America Customized Cash is fairly generous with a welcome bonus of $200 if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. It’s not the best among other cash back credit cards, but it’s not the worst. Plus, for many cardholders, it’s easy enough to spend $1,000 in 90 days.
You can redeem your points through the Bank of America Travel Center, as cash rewards (at 0.6 cents per point) and as gift cards (variable point value). You can even retroactively redeem your points on travel, booked through a third-party site, or dining purchases you’ve made in the past 12 months.
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card also offers variable redemption options. Unlike some cash back cards that only allow you to redeem your rewards for a statement credit, Bank of America allows you to deposit your cash back into another account, redeem for credit or opt for a check in the mail.
Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program
Both of these Bank of America cards can potentially earn much more rewards if you qualify for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program. Essentially, if you have a sizable deposit in a Bank of America checking or savings account or a Merrill investment account, you stand to increase your rewards rate by 25%, 50% or 75% depending on the tier you qualify for.
For the Bank of America Travel Rewards card, if you qualify for the lowest tier, Gold, your points per $1 increases to 1.875. For the Bank of America Customized Cash, you’ll earn 1.875% if you qualify for Gold.
Bank of America Travel Rewards: Best for travel credit card rookies
The Bank of America Travel Rewards charges no annual fee, earns a flat rate of points on all purchases and allows you to spend points on travel through its travel portal. What else could you ask for in a starter travel credit card?
The card defines “travel” broadly, meaning you can redeem your points on flights, hotels, vacation packages and more. Since you aren’t limited by any number of travel partners, your rewards hold the same value no matter what airline you fly on or hotel you stay at.
We recommend you use this card for most of your travel expenses (or even all) to quickly earn points since the 1.5X points is comparatively lower than other travel cards. Another incentive to using the Travel Rewards card as your primary travel card is the fact that you’ll earn 3 points per dollar when you book through the Bank of America Travel Center. And of course, be sure to earn the 25,000 bonus points to maximize the card’s worth.
Bank of America Customized Cash: Best for everyday spending
Sometimes it’s difficult to predict which category you spend more in, but the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card offers the flexibility to maximize your future spending with up to six swappable 3% cash back categories. It also has the major advantage of allowing you to switch categories once per month.
The card is most attractive to cardholders who want to earn bonus cash back in online shopping or gas. The 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs is nothing to scoff at either, making it ideal for families who spend a lot on gas and food items. However, remember that the rewards in the 3% and 2% categories are capped at $2,500 per quarter (then you earn 1%).
When it comes down to it, the Bank of America Cash Back card is the better card for all seasons. It carries eight bonus categories that earn either 3% or 2% on key everyday expenses, and you can change six of them monthly. You can use it as your main card for all your purchases, or only on gas or grocery purchases, and it’ll still give you great value.
The Bank of America Travel Rewards card is better suited as your introductory travel card in addition to your other primary cards. We recommend it for those who occasionally travel, but not serious globe trotters.