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Bank of America just rolled out 3 brand spanking new travel credit cards for the 2012 summer season. Competing against such greats as the Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred, these newcomers enter a market rife with fierce competition and seasoned rewards veterans. So how do these travel card neophytes stack up against the revered old-timers of the rewards realm? Here we review BofA’s new arsenal of travel cards and compare them to a few of our favorite standbys.
Bank of America Privileges with Travel Rewards
The BofA Priveleges card offers 2% back on every dollar spent. Double points are always awesome. The Priveleges card also boasts flexible travel redemption options. You can redeem for statement credits to offset virtually any travel expense without restrictions or blackout dates. Points do not have earning caps or expiration dates. You also won’t have to pay a foreign transaction fee, saving you 3% on every out-of-country purchase.
The annual fee is waived the first year and 75 every year thereafter. In addition to a decent rewards rate and flexible redemption options, that buys you a few additional services, including travel and emergency assistance, a concierge service and purchase replacement.
All in all, Privileges is a pretty solid travel card. BUT, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is just a bit better. First off, the Venture costs less. The annual fee is $0 intro for first year; $59 after that. As with the Privileges card, you’ll earn double miles, and the Venture also comes with a great bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months, equal to $400 in travel
Similar to the Privileges card, miles can be redeemed for any travel expense without blackout dates or restrictions. Again, you won’t have to worry about a foreign transaction fee. And like its BofA competitor, the Venture grants access to an array of additional perks, including a concierge service, roadside assistance, preferred seating at events and more.
You may want to consider the Privileges card if you maintain a combined balance of $50,000 or more of average daily balances for the month, or month-end balances in deposit accounts and/or eligible investment balances at Bank of America. Why? Your annual fee is waived entirely.
Bank of America Travel Rewards
The BofA Travel Rewards card is essentially the same as the Privileges card but with a lower rewards rate and no annual fee. The Travel Rewards yields 1.5% back on every dollar spent. Like its big brother, it does not currently offer a signing bonus.
Once again, there are no spending caps, expiration dates, blackout dates or travel restrictions. There is also no credit card foreign transaction fee. The Travel Rewards comes equipped with the same perks as the Privileges card, namely emergency assistance, a concierge and purchase replacement. The Travel Rewards card also has a 0% intro purchase APR for the first 12 months.
Capital One offers a similar card called the Capital One VentureOne (not to be confused with the plain ol’ Venture). In fact, the VentureOne and the BofA Travel Rewards are virtually identical. Neither charges an annual fee or foreign transaction fee and both offer a year of 0% purchase APR. There are only two minor differences we find noteworthy. The VentureOne’s reward rate stands at 1.25% back on every purchase–slightly less than the Travel Rewards’ 1.5%. The VentureOne, however, offers a 10,000-point ($100) signing bonus. It’s a bit of a toss up. For a better rewards rate, go BofA. For a signing bonus, we suggest Capital One.
Bank of America WorldPoints Travel Rewards for Business Visa
The BofA Business Travel card is less than impressive. The signup bonus is a pitiful 5,000 points. The rewards rate is 3 points per dollar spent on travel booked through BofA and 1.5 points per dollar spent everywhere else. There is no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, no caps or expirations and no blackout dates. It has a 9-month 0% introductory purchase APR to give you time to spend without accumulating interest. It’s an okay card but certainly not the best option.
A similar (but better) no-fee card is the Chase Ink Classic. For no annual cost, you earn 5% back on office supplies and phone/cable services, 2% back on fuel and lodging and 1% back on everything else. At 25,000 points, the signing bonus is 5x greater than that of the BofA Business. The Ink comes with a 12-month purchase and transfer APR for paying down debts. However, it DOES charge a 3% foreign transaction fee. You’re not going to want to make this your primary overseas card. But if your business needs are primarily domestic, you can’t go wrong with Ink.