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No-Fee Travel Cards: Discover it Miles vs. Bank of America Travel Rewards

Oct. 16, 2018
Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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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 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. They have many things in common but also some important differences.

What’s the same or similar for both

  • No annual fee.
  • 1.5 miles or points per dollar on all purchases.
  • Rewards are redeemable for credit against travel purchases. Book travel however you want, then use your rewards to offset the cost.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Access to your FICO score.

Sign-up bonus

  • Discover it® Miles: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: 25,000 online bonus points if 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.

Which is better?

If you put at least $16,667 on the card in the first year, you’ll get a bigger bonus with the Discover it® Miles. If you expect to spend less or you want your bonus upfront, without having to wait a year, look to the Bank of America® offering.

Loyalty rewards

  • Discover it® Miles: None, other than the incentive to keep the card for a year to collect your potentially lucrative bonus.
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: You can earn rewards bonuses by banking with Bank of America® or investing with Merrill Edge® or Merrill Lynch®. For example, having a checking or savings account at Bank of America® entitles you to a bonus of 10% of your rewards earned, making the effective rewards rate 1.65%. If you’re enrolled in the Preferred Rewards program, you can get even bigger bonuses — 25% to 75% — but you’ll need to keep high balances to earn them.

Which is better?

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, but it matters only if you’re a banking or investing customer.

Extras

  • Discover it® Miles: $30 annual credit for in-flight Wi-Fi, U.S.-based customer service, no late fee for your first missed payment and Freeze It, the ability to use your phone to “turn off” your card if it has been lost, stolen or misplaced.
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Booking travel through the Bank of America® Travel Center, you’ll earn 3 points per $1 spent. Visa Signature network, which offers such travel benefits as car rental coverage, travel accident insurance and lost luggage reimbursement. Wider acceptance abroad as a Visa card.

Which is better?

A higher earnings rate through the Bank of America® Travel Center, added travel perks and wider overseas acceptance are pluses for the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. But the practical value of add-ons from the Discover it® Miles is likely to be more useful to more people more often.

Which should you get?

  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: If you’re a Bank of America® customer with significant accounts or plan a lot of overseas travel.

  • Discover it® Miles: For the superior sign-up bonus and useful card features, making it the right pick for most people.

Run the numbers for yourself with our comparison calculator: