Advertiser Disclosure

Making the Most of Bank of America Travel Rewards

Oct. 3, 2018
Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card offers several ways to maximize your rewards — including earning double points when you book travel through the Bank of America® Travel Center. But the most significant boost comes from having other accounts at Bank of America®, Merrill Edge® or Merrill Lynch®. And the more money you have in those accounts, the bigger your rewards.

Here’s how to make the most of the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.

Get the loyalty bonus

With the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card, everyone gets 1.5 points for every $1 spent. If you have a checking or savings account with Bank of America®, you get a 10% points bonus on every purchase. Enroll in the Bank of America® Preferred Rewards program, and the bonuses increase to 25%, 50% or 75%, depending on your combined balances.

Say you spend $12,000 a year on the card. At 1.5 points per dollar, you’ll earn $180 in rewards. If you’re a Bank of America® checking or savings customer, that rises to $198 with the 10% bonus. Bonuses really start to climb when you’re a Preferred Rewards client with more than $20,000 in combined balances at Bank of America®, Merrill Edge® or Merrill Lynch®:

COMBINED BALANCE BONUS REWARDS ON $12,000 IN SPENDING
$20,000–$49,999 25% $225
$50,000–$99,999 50% $270
$100,000 or more 75% $315

Getting the loyalty bonus is a simple way to boost your rewards, but, of course, simple isn’t the same as easy. Having $20,000, $50,000 or $100,000 in combined accounts is easy to say, hard to do.

Use the Travel Center

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card boosts your rewards to 3 points per $1 spent on travel booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center. That includes flights, hotel nights, rental cars — everything except insurance. There’s no limit on the extra points you can earn this way.

The card also comes with a solid sign-up promotion, so make sure you spend enough to qualify for it: 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. Other travel cards offer bigger sign-up bonuses, but those cards typically come with an annual fee. You can’t beat the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card’s annual fee of $0. Like most travel credit cards, this card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee.

Take an interest rate break

New cardholders get an interest rate break: 0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles, and then the ongoing APR of 16.99% - 24.99% Variable APR. You’ll be able to rack up points without worrying about the interest piling up, too.

You should be aware, though, that the introductory rate doesn’t apply to transferred balances. Your ongoing interest rate, depending on your credit rating, will apply to balance transfers, which also incur a fee of 3% of the transferred balance (minimum $10).

How to redeem rewards on the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

It’s just as easy to redeem points as it is to earn them. Simply make a travel-related purchase with your card, then redeem your points for statement credit to offset the purchase. Points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for travel. And when you think “travel” purchases, think outside the box. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card’s definition of travel is wider than many other cards’, including amusement parks, art galleries, circuses, aquariums, zoos and many other things as travel expenses.

The ability to redeem for credit against travel purchases offers tremendous flexibility. You can book travel any way you want, fly on any airline, stay at any hotel. There are no blackout dates or restrictions.

You can also redeem points for gift cards or to make a cash deposit into one of your Bank of America®, Merrill Edge® or Merrill Lynch accounts®, but you’ll get a much lower redemption value per point. Still, with the bonus percentages, you can earn almost as much as a card that pays a higher reward rate.

Pay more, earn more

A key element of the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card’s appeal is the $0 annual fee. If you’re willing to pay an annual fee, you can get a higher rewards rate even without loyalty bonuses. Take the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Here’s what it offers:

Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95.

Sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel.

APR: The ongoing APR is 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR.

Rewards: Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent with no limit on how much you can earn. Miles can be redeemed for travel at a rate of 1 cent per point.

But if you don’t want to pay an annual fee, and you want rewards that are easy to earn and redeem, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is a smooth ride.

Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ecannon@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ellencannon