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Bank of America Travel Rewards card vs. Bank of America Cash Rewards card

Which credit card is best for you?

Summary

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.

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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® Cash Rewards credit card come with better rewards rates than you might expect from no-annual-fee cards. Specifically:

  • The Travel Rewards card earns a flat 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase.
  • The Cash Rewards card earns 3 percent cash back in the category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, home improvement/furnishings), 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale club purchases and 1 percent cash back on other purchases. Earnings in the 3 percent and 2 percent categories drop to 1 percent after $2,500 in combined spending each quarter.

Although both cards can be valuable for a variety of lifestyles, they’re particularly beneficial to those who have other Bank of America checkings 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 percent with either card.

Bank of America Travel Rewards vs. Bank of America Cash Rewards

Bank of America Travel Rewards card
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Bank of America Cash Rewards card
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Rewards rate1.5 points per dollar on every purchase
  • 3% cash back on one of 6 categories (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, home improvement/ furnishings)
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • Earnings on 3% and 2% categories drop to 1% after $2,500 in combined spending each quarter

 

Sign-up bonus25,000 online points if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days

$200 after spending $1,000 in first 90 days

Annual fee$0$0
Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend)$322$325
Pros 

  • Unlimited 1.5% back
  • Variety of travel expenses are eligible for point redemptions

 

 

  • Higher cash back rate than most cash back cards
  • Choose your own top bonus category

 

Cons

 

  • Low rewards rate
  • No bonus categories

 

 

  • People looking to earn in certain categories like travel and dining may be better off with a rewards card that offers points
  • Only 1% cash back offered on non-bonus categories
  • Bonus earnings have a quarterly cap

 

Who should get this card? 

  • People looking for their first travel rewards credit card
  • Bank of America checking or savings account holders
  • People who travel a handful of times a year, but not frequently

 

 

  • People who spend most of their money on everyday expenses like groceries and gas
  • People looking for their first cash back credit card
  • Bank of America Preferred Rewards customers

 

A closer look

Bank of America Travel Rewards card

Bank of America’s signature no-annual-fee travel card is a bit different from what you’ll find with other issuers. Instead of earning points that transfer to frequent flier programs or hotel loyalty programs, points can only be redeemed for a statement credit at a clip of 1 cent apiece.

Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (a staple in the travel community), the Bank of America Travel card defines “travel” broadly, meaning you can redeem your points on flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees. 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. Although some may look at this card and initially think that their redemption options are limited due to the lack of transfer partners, the opposite is true.

Another perk to using the Travel Rewards card as your primary travel card is the fact that you’ll actually earn 3 points per dollar when you book through the Bank of America Travel Center. On top of that, if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days, you’ll earn 25,000 bonus points.

Savvy credit card users are always looking for ways to bump up their rewards rates – this travel card certainly offers plenty of opportunities, without an annual fee to boot.

Bank of America Cash Rewards card

The Cash Rewards card from Bank of America was once pegged mostly as a gas card since the 3 percent cash back rate used to be limited to gas purchases. The card now appeals to far more types of spenders since you can now choose from six categories to earn 3 percent back. The 2 percent cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases is just the cherry on top.

Like most other cards with bonus categories, the rewards are capped after spending $2,500 on combined purchases each quarter. Some look at a rewards cap as a “catch” a fine-print detail that tricks you into earning less than you expected. In the matter of the Cash Rewards card, that’s simply not the case. A $2,500 quarterly cap on bonus spend roughly translates to $830 dollars per month. Most will be comfortable spending under that amount on their bonus categories.

Another benefit of the Cash Rewards card is the variety of redemption options it offers. Unlike some cash back cards that only allow you to redeem your rewards for a statement credit, Bank of America will allow you to deposit your cash back into another account, redeem for a credit or opt for a check in the mail.

Perhaps the most distinctive perk is the intro bonus. You’ll earn $200 after spending $1,000 on your new card within the first 90 days. The amount you need to spend to get the bonus and the bonus itself are both extremely competitive in the credit card landscape.

Here’s what else you need to know about these two cards:

Best for people who like using one card for most purchases: Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card

Although the 1.5 miles per dollar spent is a decent rewards rate, it requires heavy spending for the rewards to add up. For example, it takes a whopping $10,000 to rack up $150 worth of travel points. On the flip side, its 25,000-point intro bonus offer (if you spend $1,000 in the first three months on purchases) can be redeemed for up to $250 toward travel purchases. That’s a pretty good value for such a small minimum spend. Most cards require a spend of $2,000 or more.

If you’d like to simplify your credit card strategy, or you’re relatively new to the rewards game, this card is certainly a good option. Put most (if not all) of your credit card spend onto it, score a great intro bonus, and you’ll have enough points for a pretty good redemption.

Since there’s no annual fee, you’ll have very little work to do to enjoy the benefits. Pay your bills in full and on time and you’ll come out on top. Later on, if you’d like to upgrade your card to the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card (which earns 2X points on travel and dining purchases), you can do so.

Best for families and credit card jugglers: Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card

The Cash Rewards card is really useful for families looking to save on some of the most common expenses like gas, dining and groceries. The above-average rewards rate and relatively high rewards cap make it a valuable tool that doesn’t come with an annual fee.

For those with multiple credit cards, this card could be great as your go-to for gas purchases only. Say you have other cards that earn better rewards on groceries, travel and other expenses. If you spend $200 per month on gas, you’ll earn $72 annually in cash back. So you’ll earn $72 plus the $200 sign-up bonus – all without meeting the spend cap.

Which card should you choose?

Ask yourself what you’re looking for: an introduction to the world of travel rewards, or savings on everyday expenses. Also consider what you’d like to redeem your rewards for. If you’re earning a bunch of cash back with the Cash Rewards card but you’d rather treat yourself with a nice trip instead of saving on another week of groceries, maybe you’d be better off applying for both. After all, money spent in the Bank of America Travel Center earns a whopping 3 points per dollar.

See related: Need a new travel card in 2019? Try these 5 perennial favoritesHow to maximize the Bank of America Cash Rewards card’s 3-percent bonus in 2019BankAmeriDeals® program guide

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Published: February 7, 2019

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: August 14th, 2019
Business
15.55%
Airline
17.50%
Cash Back
17.63%
Reward
17.50%
Student
17.69%

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