Reviews Bank of America Premium Rewards card review
Bank of America Premium Rewards card review

Bank of America Premium Rewards card review

Published: September 26, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
4 rating
4 rating
4 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.5
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.7
Rewards Flexibility: 4.7
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

The new Bank of America Premium Rewards card combines the features of a cash back card with the features of a premium travel card for a great value.

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 travel and dining
  • 1.5:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
50,000 when you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$95

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$328

APR
15.99-23.99% (variable)

Pros:

  • Points don’t expire
  • No cap on points
  • No blackout dates
  • Redeem points for any purchase for a value of 1 cent per point
  • Other redemption options include merchandise, gift cards and cash back

Cons:

  • Can’t transfer points

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, $100 credit for travel incidentals, 25%-75% points bonus for preferred customers, trip delay insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, Visa Signature concierge, purchase protection, return protection, extended warranty, car rental insurance, roadside dispatch

Travel Rating:
3.8 rating
3.8 rating
3.8 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.1
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.5
Rewards Flexibility: 4.7
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

The new Bank of America Premium Rewards card is an especially great deal for Bank of America customers with account balances greater than $20,000.

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 travel and dining
  • 1.5:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
50,000 when you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$95

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$328

APR
15.99-23.99% (variable)

Pros:

  • Points don’t expire
  • No cap on points
  • No blackout dates
  • Redeem points for any purchase for a value of 1 cent per point
  • Other redemption options include merchandise, gift cards and cash back

Cons:

  • Can’t transfer points

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, $100 credit for travel incidentals, 25%-75% points bonus for preferred customers, trip delay insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, Visa Signature concierge, purchase protection, return protection, extended warranty, car rental insurance, roadside dispatch

In the crowded luxury card space, as issuers push benefits and sign-up bonuses to the extreme to try to lure in wealthy cardholders, the new luxury card that Bank of America has been touting for months has emerged – and it turns out to be more of a mid-level travel card with simplified redemption options, more appropriate for casual rewards card users.

That’s not to say that there isn’t good value in the Premium Rewards card or that more-sophisticated travel hackers won’t seize the opportunity to score the card’s 50,000-point sign-up bonus.

The card is teeming with travel credits and travel protections that you typically find on a luxury card with a much higher fee. If you are a frequent traveler, you can easily find enough value in the card’s benefits to outmatch it’s $95 annual fee, including 1.5 points on every dollar that you spend and 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases. And the relationship bonuses on the card push those points even higher – you can earn as much as a 75 percent bonus on your points if you have a bank or investment account with Bank of America.

If you are a current Bank of America customer, this card is a shoo-in for simple, valuable rewards. 

High earning rate
Cardholders earn points with the card at an especially high rate. You get 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points per dollar on the rest of your purchases. In comparison, most travel rewards cards offer 1 point per dollar on general purchases.

25 to 75 percent bonus for preferred customers
One of the best features on the card is the relationship bonus for Bank of America customers. Bank of America uses a tiered system which awards a bonus on points to Bank of America checking and savings account holders and to Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment account holders at the following levels:

  • 25 percent bonus for balances between $20,000 and $49,999
  • 50 percent bonus for balances between $50,000 and $99,999
  • 75 percent bonus for balances greater than $99,999

A $50,000 balance is a pretty formidable amount, and we suspect that many cardholders can’t afford to qualify for the bonus at this level. However, if you can fund it, a 50 to 75 percent bonus on earnings is very noteworthy, since it makes the card competitive with other standouts in the travel card category, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

A 50 percent point bonus turns the Premium card’s 1.5 rewards rate on general purchases into 2.25 percent on general purchases, while a 75 percent bonus boosts the rate to 2.625 percent. The Chase Sapphire preferred card, in comparison, offers only 1 percent on general purchases. Even when you take into account the higher value of the Preferred card’s points (we value them at 1.26 cents per point), the Preferred card can’t match the value of Bank of America’s relationship bonus.

Worth it for the sign-up bonus
The Bank of America Premium rewards card offers a 50,000-point bonus to new cardholders who spend at least $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership. That’s a really generous amount – worth $500 any way you redeem it – on par with the bonuses from other premium travel cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Citi ThankYou Premier card. The minimum spend on the Bank of America Premium rewards card also is lower than on the Chase and Citi cards.

Flexible redemption options
The card offers highly flexible redemption options. Points don’t expire, there are no limits to how many points you can earn, and you can redeem points any way you please – as a deposit into a Bank of America account or as a statement credit for any type of purchase.

Points have a fixed value of 1 cent per point, which is a plus for cardholders looking for a simple rewards card. However, it’s also a major drawback for cardholders seeking to maximize their rewards value.

On the one hand, you don’t have to worry about searching for limited rewards seats or navigating complicated rewards tiers to try to find the best value for your points. On the other hand, there’s no way to boost the value of your points outside the card’s relationship bonuses. Points are always worth a penny each – the same value that you would get with a cash back card (in fact, the card is essentially a cash back card with travel benefits).

If you are not a preferred Bank of America customer, you can get a much better value on your points with cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred cards, which give you the option to transfer points to airline partners and search for better values on your points within their redemption charts.

Premium travel benefits
The travel benefits on the Premium Rewards card are another great source of value. The card offers a $100 credit for travel incidentals – such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight purchases and lounge fees – and a $100 credit every four years to cover the fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. Note, the $100 travel credit applies only to domestic flights on a select number of airlines, which seems stingy compared to the $300 credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card that applies to any type of travel purchase, even airfare. But also consider that the Reserve card charges a $450 annual fee for such benefits.

The Bank of America Premium Rewards card also includes an assortment of travel protections that’s above average. Though not quite up to the level of an elite card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the benefits are similar, and they’re better than what you’d usually find on a card with a $95 fee.

For example, you get secondary car rental coverage, trip insurance – up to $5,000 per person, per trip – $500 worth of trip delay insurance per trip, baggage delay insurance up to $100 per day for five days, and complete reimbursement for your luggage if it’s lost or stolen.

If you travel often enough to experience these types of mishaps, you should consider getting the card and using it to book your next trip. If your trip is delayed or your luggage goes missing, you can add hundreds to thousands of dollars to the card’s bottom line.

Visa Signature benefits
The card is a Visa Signature card, which means you can expect the usual Visa Signature benefits, such as Visa Signature concierge and hotel perks through the Visa Signature Luxury hotel protection. You also get purchase protections, including purchase security, extended warranty and return protection.

One major plus is the lack of foreign transaction fees. If you use the card while traveling abroad, you can avoid the usual 2 to 3 percent fee that most cards charge on foreign purchases.

Why get it?

  • You have a Bank of America savings, checking or investment account worth more than $20,000.
  • You spend a lot of time flying and can take advantage of the card’s generous travel benefits.
  • You want pared-down luxury card benefits at a bargain price.
  • You want a simple travel rewards card that includes good redemption options outside of travel.
  • You’re looking to cash in on a great sign-up bonus. 

How to use it:

  • Use this card for all your spending to earn a high rewards rate – especially on dining and travel.
  • Use the card to book your travel to take advantage of its numerous travel protections, and be sure to dip into those protections if your travel plans go awry.
  • Look for travel deals outside of the Bank of America site, since your points can be used to cover any travel purchase.
  • Use the card while you’re traveling abroad, since it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
  • Spend at least $3,000 in the first three months to earn the sign-up bonus.

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