Bank of America’s new premium travel rewards card offers up to a 75 percent rewards bonus
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A premium rewards credit card that encourages customers to keep more money in their banking and investment accounts may sound unimaginable – but that’s exactly what Bank of America is doing with the launch of their new premium rewards card.
In addition to offering a 50,000-point sign-up bonus, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card gives cardholders 2 points per dollar on travel and dining and 1.5 points per dollar on general purchases. On top of that, Bank of America checking, savings and investment account holders can earn up to a 75 percent bonus on all their points.
How to earn more rewards
Bank of America allows cardholders who participate in their Preferred Rewards program to earn more points on every dollar they spend. Depending on the amount of money in your Bank of America banking and/or Merrill Edge investment accounts, you can boost your rewards by 25, 50 or 75 percent.
To get the rewards boost, you must first enroll in the Preferred Rewards program. As your account balance increases and you qualify for a new tier, Bank of America will automatically update your status.
Here’s how the three-tiered system breaks down:
|BANK OF AMERICA PREFERRED REWARDS TIERS|
|Statuses||Amount in bank account||Rewards boost||Rewards rate|
|Non-member cardholder||$0 - $19,999||None||
|Preferred Rewards account holder: Gold
||$20,000 - $49,999||25% bonus||
|Preferred Rewards account holder: Platinum||$50,000 - $99,999||50% bonus||
|Preferred Rewards account holder: Platinum Honors||$100,000 or more||75% bonus||
The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of the offer.
Easy rewards redemption
There is no limit on the amount of rewards you can earn, and points don’t expire. Rewards can be redeemed in a variety of ways, including statement credits for any type of purchase, travel purchases made through the Bank of America Travel Center and gift cards, all at a value of 1 cent per point. Rewards can also be deposited into eligible Bank of America or Merrill Lynch accounts, including checking, savings and 529 accounts.
Premium perks at a surprisingly low cost
Along with offering 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of opening your account and rewards on every purchase, the Bank of America Premium card offers travel perks that usually accompany cards with a much higher annual fee, including an annual $100 credit for airline incidentals, a $100 credit for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck application fees every four years, and some very generous travel protections.
Believe it or not, this is a bargain for $95 a year. Premium cards geared toward high income, affluent customers typically charge $400 or more for such features. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card, for example, charges an annual fee of $450 and the Platinum card from American Express charges $550.
When we compare the benefits on these cards closely, however, we find that the higher fee amounts to a better overall value for customers who can afford it:
|COMPARING PREMIUM TRAVEL CARDS|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||Chase Sapphire Reserve||Platinum card from America Express|
||50,000 points after $3,000 spend in first 90 days||50,000 points after $4,000 spend in first 3 months||60,000 points after $5,000 spend in first 3 months|
|Foreign transaction fees||None||None||None|
|Annual travel bonus||$100||$300||$200|
Along with a substantially lower annual fee, the Bank of America Premium Rewards card also offers significantly fewer benefits. Additionally, the value of the Reserve and Platinum cards’ perks can easily outweigh the cards’ annual fees.
For example, the Sapphire Reserve card currently offers a 50 percent bonus for redeeming points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. So, the card’s 50,000-point sign-up bonus is worth $750 when redeemed toward travel. When you combine the card’s sign-up bonus with its $300 travel credit, you have the potential to earn up to $1,050 in bonuses within the first year – that’s $600 more than the card’s annual fee.
There are better options for a $95 fee
While we think that the Bank of America Premium Rewards card is a great value due to its 50,000-point sign-up bonus and its generous travel perks, there are similar cards at the same price point that offer a better rewards rates.
For example, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard offers 2 points on every dollar that you spend, plus a 10 percent bonus for travel redemptions, essentially boosting your rewards rate to 2.1 percent. Taking into account the average cardholder’s expenditures on dining and travel (around 14 to 30 percent of total spend), the Barclaycard’s 2.1 percent rewards rate will likely beat the rewards rate on the Bank of America card for most cardholders outside of Platinum and Platinum honors account holders.
In other words, if you don’t have $50,000 available to transfer into a Bank of America account, the Barclaycard may be the better way to go.
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