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General travel credit cards are simpler than cards affiliated with specific airline and hotel brands because you can redeem rewards as a statement credit against any travel or restaurant purchase. These cards tend to come with an annual fee, but two good no-fee options are the Discover it® Miles and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.
Both earn 1.5 miles or points per dollar on all purchases with no annual fee, and neither charges foreign transaction fees. Plus, both cards allow you to book travel however you want, then use your rewards to offset the cost.
If you already bank with Bank of America® or are looking for a faster bonus, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is worth consideration. In the end, though, we think most cardholders will find more value in the flexibility and overall rewards potential of the Discover it® Miles.
Here's how to decide which is right for you.
Discover it® Miles
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 16.24%-27.24% Variable APR
0% intro APR on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 18.24%-28.24% Variable APR
Foreign transaction fee
Why Discover it® Miles is better for most people
If you’re interested in building travel rewards but unsure how many flights and hotel nights your future holds, Discover it® Miles gives you the flexibility to convert travel rewards into traditional cash without losing value.
While the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card does offer a cash out option, it comes at the high cost of a nearly 50% reduction in your points’ valuation.
Whether you’re redeeming points for cash or for a statement credit on travel related purchases, Discover it® Miles has no minimum balance requirement for redemption. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card offers no such instant gratification, instead requiring a 2,500 point ($25) redemption minimum.
Big bonus potential
The Discover card offers the potential for a larger bonus over your first cardholder year, with an offer phrased this way: "UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match."
If you expect to put at least $16,667 on your new card in the first year, you'll likely get a bigger bonus with the Discover it® Miles card.
Why you might want the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
You're a Preferred Rewards customer
In the table above, our valuations are based on Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card holders who don’t qualify for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program.
But if you have accounts with Bank of America® that carry a significant balance or if you invest through Merrill, you may qualify to accumulate points at a premium of 25%-75%. For example, that means if you qualify for Gold, the program's lowest rewards tier, you'll earn 1.25 points per $1 spent. In that case, this card is your better bet.
You want faster access to your bonus
While Discover’s new cardholder bonus is potentially more lucrative for big spenders, it also takes a full year to earn. If you’re gathering points for an upcoming trip and don’t want to wait for your bonus rewards, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card card’s 90-day bonus timeline is the way to go.
You’re willing to jump through booking hoops for extra savings
When you book your travel through the Bank of America® Travel Center, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card almost doubles your rewards earnings to 3 points per $1 spent. That includes flights, hotel nights, rental cars — everything except insurance — and there's no limit on the extra points you can earn this way. So if you travel frequently and don’t mind jumping through this extra hoop, it can add up to a valuable boost in rewards.
Wider acceptance abroad
Because it’s part of the Visa network, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is widely accepted worldwide. This gives it a leg up if you’re traveling abroad and want to use your card without potential limitations.
Longer 0% APR period
If you’re financing a large purchase (such as a big vacation) and need longer to pay it off, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card will give you three extra months to pay down your balance at 0% APR. That’s 18 months with the Bank of America card vs. 15 months with Discover it® Miles.
Which card should you get?
The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is a great pick for preferred rewards customers, those who need a longer 0% APR period, or anyone looking to score a quick sign-up bonus.
But we think the Discover it® Miles is better for most people because of its flexibility between Miles and cash back, more significant bonus potential, and strong customer service reputation.
Want to compare your true rewards potential? Run the numbers for yourself with our comparison calculator:
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