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Bank of America Credit Cards

10 min read
By Brendan Harkness Sep 24, 2019 | Updated Sep 21, 2021
At a glance

Bank of America issues a diverse portfolio of credit cards. Options include solid rewards cards for everyday consumers and students alike, two secured cards, and a host of co-branded travel cards (among others).

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

Bank of America issues cards designed for people with a range of credit scores, from no credit to bad credit to good credit. It offers cards for:

Although you won’t find any high-end credit card offers here (you won’t see any cards with annual fees higher than $95), you’ll find a few cards with low fees (or no fees) that are surprisingly rewarding for the price.

Cash Back Rewards

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securely on the issuer's website

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card (Review) is a valuable cash back card, with flexible bonus categories for common expenses that many people have every week. Your 3% and 2% rates are limited to $2,500 in combined quarterly purchases. You’ll also get a nice online cash rewards bonus and pretty long 0% intro periods for purchases and balance transfers.

Travel Rewards

Bank of America issues two travel credit cards for consumers, one with no fee and one with a mid-range fee.

Card Annual Fee Rewards
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card (Review) $0
  • 3X points per dollar at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • 1.5X points per dollar on all other purchases
  • 25,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days after account opening
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card (Review) $95
  • 2X points per dollar for:
    • Travel
    • Dining
  • 1.5X points per dollar for all other purchases
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR0% for 12 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card (Review) is a decent no-fee travel card, although you can’t transfer points to airline or hotel partners. However, you will be able to redeem your points for statement credits towards eligible travel expenses like baggage fees, rental cars, flights, or hotels.

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$95
  • Purchase APR15.99%–22.99% Variable

An upgrade to the card above, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card (Review) is a good travel rewards card that offers valuable perks like annual statement credits, which can completely offset the $95 annual fee.

Student Credit Cards

Bank of America issues a few credit cards designed for students with limited or no credit history.

Card Rewards
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students (Review)
  • 3% cash back in one category of your choice:
    • Gas
    • Online shopping
    • Dining
    • Travel
    • Drugstores
    • Home improvement/furnishings stores
  • 2% cash back at:
    • Grocery stores
    • Wholesale clubs
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 3% and 2% rewards only up to $2,500 in combined spending per quarter, then 1% cash back
  • $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card for Students
  • 3X points per dollar on purchases from the Bank of America travel center
  • 1.5X points per dollar for all other purchases
  • 25,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR0% for 15 billing cycles, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable

Like the regular Cash Rewards card, your choice category/grocery/wholesale club bonus rewards are limited to the first $2,500 spent each quarter.

Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card for Students
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR0% for 12 months, then 14.99%–22.99% Variable

One of the better student travel cards (in terms of rewards, intro bonus, and benefits) this is a lot like the regular consumer BofA Travel Rewards Card.

Secured Credit Cards

Bank of America provides one secured credit card, the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card, which requires a refundable security deposit and is designed to help people build their credit.

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securely on the issuer's website

BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelBad
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR22.99% Variable

Co-Branded Airline Credit Cards

Bank of America is partnered with a variety of airlines, and offers co-branded cards for frequent flyers.

Air France KLM

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securely on the issuer's website

Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard®
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$89
  • Purchase APR15.99%–23.99% Variable

Alaska Airlines

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securely on the issuer's website

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$75
  • Purchase APR15.99%–23.99% Variable

Allegiant Air

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securely on the issuer's website

Allegiant World Mastercard®
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$59
  • Purchase APR15.99%–23.99% Variable

Spirit Airlines

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securely on the issuer's website

Free Spirit® Travel More World Elite Mastercard®
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$79, $0 first year
  • Purchase APR15.99%–23.99% Variable

Virgin Atlantic

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securely on the issuer's website

Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelExcellent
  • Annual Fee$90
  • Purchase APR15.99%–23.99% Variable

Other Co-Branded Credit Cards

Bank of America also offers some co-branded cards with other travel services: AAA, Amtrak and several cruise lines. It also partners with NEA (National Education Association) to issue two other cards.

AAA

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securely on the issuer's website

AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® Card
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelFair
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99%–23.99% Variable

Amtrak

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securely on the issuer's website

Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard®
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$79
  • Purchase APR13.99%–23.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard®
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelFair
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99%–23.99% Variable

Celebrity Cruises

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securely on the issuer's website

Celebrity Cruises® Visa Signature® Credit Card
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelFair
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99%–23.99% Variable

Norwegian Cruise Line

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securely on the issuer's website

Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard® Credit Card
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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99%–23.99% Variable

Royal Caribbean International

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securely on the issuer's website

Royal Caribbean® Visa Signature® Card
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99%–23.99% Variable

National Education Association

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

NEA® Cash Rewards Card
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelFair
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR0% for 15 months, then 13.99%–23.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

NEA® RateSmart® Mastercard®
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelFair
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR0% for 18 months, then 9.99%–19.99% Variable

What Benefits Do Bank of America Credit Cards Include?

Bank of America credit cards come with the following features.

  • Customer Bonus: Some Bank of America credit cards provide a 10% bonus on rewards if you have an active Bank of America checking or savings account, or if you redeem into such an account.
  • Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program: Some Bank of America credit cards include this program, which will provide a 25–75% bonus on rewards if you have qualifying Bank of America or Merrill Lynch accounts.
  • Redemption options: Bank of America reward cards allow you to redeem points or cash back for statement credits, gift cards, travel expenses, and more.
  • Free FICO Credit Score: Check your FICO Score 8 for free whenever you’d like, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Account Alerts: Choose the types of notifications you’d like to receive, like payment due dates or payment receipts.
  • Shopping and travel protections: May include Purchase Protection, Return Protection, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waivers, Travel Accident Insurance, and more.
  • Fraud Protection: Bank of America will proactively monitor your account to prevent fraudulent transactions.
  • $0 Liability Protection: You won’t be held responsible for unauthorized transactions. Contact customer support immediately if you suspect fraud.
  • Overdraft Protection: Prevent overdrafts of your Bank of America bank account by linking your credit card. Transfers from credit cards to bank accounts will count as bank cash advances.
  • Online Banking and Mobile App: Access your account online from a computer or from your smartphone.
  • Chip technology: Bank of America cards are equipped with EMV technology, both Chip-and-Signature and Chip-and-PIN.

About Bank of America

Bank of America serves over 67 million consumer and small business clients in the United States, providing a variety of banking services. It’s also active in 35 other countries besides the U.S., and employs over 200,000 people around the world.

You can break down Bank of America’s business activities into eight divisions, as described by the bank itself:

For People

  • Retail: Serving U.S. consumers with digital banking, credit cards, and more.
  • Preferred and Small Business: Provides banking, investment, and cash management solutions for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
  • Merrill Lynch Wealth Management: Investor clients are assisted by personal advisors to help them achieve their financial goals.
  • U.S. Trust: Offers private banking and wealth management solutions.

For Companies

  • Business Banking: Offers tools for small and mid-sized businesses, like credit, foreign exchange, equipment finance, and merchant services.
  • Global Commercial BankingProvides financial guidance, lending, leasing, and debt and equity underwriting services for middle market businesses.
  • Global Corporate and Investment Banking: Designed for large corporate clients around the world, offers solutions for treasury services, lending, debt and equity underwriting, and more.

Institutional Investors

  • Global Markets: Investor clients can access hedging strategies and industry-leading insights, along with services for debt, equity, commodity, and foreign exchange markets.

Bank of America isn’t just a bank and credit card issuer — it’s also the largest wealth management firm in the U.S. Holding $1.08 trillion in AUM (assets under management), it’s the second largest such firm in the world, after UBS. Client balances in total are approximately $2.5 trillion.

Bank of America reached this lofty position after acquiring Merrill Lynch in September of 2008, after that firm was hit hard by the financial crisis. It paid $50 billion to acquire the ailing investment company, picking up its vast stock of investor clients and assets in the process. Merrill Lynch is still prominent in providing wealth management services as part of Bank of America.

Despite that, it’s not quite the largest bank in the U.S — it only comes in second, with $2.28 trillion in total assets. J.P. Morgan Chase is leading the pack with $2.53 trillion in assets.

In 2017, Bank of America reported $87.4 billion in revenue, with a net income of $18.2 billion. It’s one of the top small business lenders, with $34 billion in small business loan balances. Shareholders should be relatively pleased with the bank’s performance, as its stock has seen a gradual climb compared to the general indices.

Bank of America has won a number of awards and accolades, often focused on technology and social influence. It came in 3rd on Fortune magazine’s 2018 Change the World list (the highest ranked bank), which ranks companies by their positive influence on cultural issues and their effectiveness at tackling social problems. It gained that spot by committing to fund low-carbon and sustainable businesses, to which it has already provided $96 billion in financing since 2007. The bank was also 2nd on Fortune’s list of The 50 Best Workplaces for Giving Back in 2018, with $176,173,927 in total philanthropic donations.

Euromoney named Bank of America the Best Bank in the World for 2018, due in large part to the bank’s technology investment of $10 billion per year. It has been simplifying its services and making them more efficient, as well as focusing on low-risk clients and long-term relationships, and customers have responded very positively.

The awards could go on and on — to name just a few more, in 2018 Merrill Lynch had 18 women included in Barron’s Top 100 Women Financial Advisors, more than any other single company. In Forbes’ 2018 list of the Top Next-Gen Wealth Management Advisors, 247 of the 500 people included are Merrill Lynch advisors. And Bank of America’s mobile banking app is the first to receive J.D. Power’s Mobile App Certification, which recognizes brands that provide an exceptional mobile app experience.

A Brief History of Bank of America

Bank of America’s past is marked by a lot of firsts: first credit card, first computer used in banking, first account numbers used on checks. It’s been on the leading edge of banking and finance for most of its history, and remains there to this day.

The original BankAmericard. Image credit: Logoblink

The original BankAmericard. Image credit: Logoblink

As an institution, Bank of America began as the Bank of Italy in 1904, founded in San Francisco by Amadeo Pietro Giannini. It provided services to working class citizens and immigrants, at a time when banks were known for catering primarily to the wealthy. As one of the only banks to survive the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906, it was able to offer loans to help rebuild the city. Giannini went on to launch the first successful branch banking system in the U.S., expanding to other areas of California.

The Bank of Italy didn’t become Bank of America until 1930 (officially, “Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association”), after Giannini merged his bank with Bank of America, Los Angeles, and took the name. The BankAmerica Corporation was later established in 1968 as a holding company for the bank’s assets, and the corporation has seen a number of acquisitions and mergers since then.

Significantly, in 1998 BankAmerica Corporation merged with NationsBank in a $62 billion deal. Although NationsBank was the dominant player, it took the more popular name of Bank of America Corporation, which it retains to this day. With this merger it became the first coast-to-coast banking company in the U.S.

The 1950s saw the development of the first computers used in banking, pioneered by Bank of America. The Remington Rand UNIVAC-1, a factory-sized behemoth that relied on vacuum tubes to perform calculations, was delivered to Bank of America in 1954. It could process 12,000 numbers per second, a marvel of engineering at the time. The next year, in 1955, Bank of America debuted ERMA: the Electronic Recording Method of Accounting, a check-processing machine that could process 33,000 accounts in the time it would normally take a human to process 245.

It was quite a big deal, and future-president Ronald Reagan (then a spokesman for General Electric) hosted a transcontinental video press conference to show off ERMA’s capabilities. You can read his speech, titled “Frontiers of Progress,” if you’re interested.

The San Francisco ERMA center, 1961. Image credit: Bank of America

The San Francisco ERMA center, 1961. Image credit: Bank of America

At about the same time, Bank of America partnered with General Electric and Stanford Research Institute to develop another major milestone in banking history: magnetic-ink character recognition (MICR). Hailed as one of the greatest breakthroughs in banking technology, MICR is responsible for the string of numbers seen at the bottom of checks, still in use today, which allows machines like ERMA to read the account information.

Bank of America and its partners made MICR technology available for use by other banks and printers with no royalty charges, and it became the worldwide standard for recording and reading account information. It would be hard to imagine check processing without it (lots of elbow grease would be required).

A bit later, in 1958, Bank of America created the first bank-issued general-use credit card, the BankAmericard. Residents of Fresno, California were surprised to find the cards in their mailboxes, after the bank sent out 60,000 BankAmericards in an unsolicited mailing that has come to be known as “The Fresno Drop.” The cards were made of paper, and they had credit limits of $300 each.

Early BankAmericard ad, from 1959. Image credit: Bank of America

Early BankAmericard ad, 1959. Image credit: Bank of America

As the BankAmericard caught on and more banks wanted in on the credit card action, it was rebranded to Visa, “a simple name that sounds the same in every language.” Visa credit cards are now the most widely used cards in the world.

Bank of America claims a heritage legacy going back over 200 years, all the way back to the founding and establishment of the United States. But this historical account seems a bit ad-hoc, as it includes many acquisitions and relies on heritage relationships: Massachusetts Bank was founded in 1784, before merging with First National Bank of Boston in 1903. From there it was bought by Fleet in 1999, which was later acquired by Bank of America in 2004.

That means Bank of America can stake a claim back to one of the oldest banks in the United States, although not directly. The honor of being the oldest bank probably goes to the Bank of North America in Philadelphia, chartered in 1781, an organization that has since been acquired (through many intermediary mergers) by Wells Fargo.

Today, you can visit a replica of one of the original Bank of Italy locations in San Jose, California, which was actually the first branch outside of San Francisco. The replica, also in San Jose, was constructed in 1977 and you can take a virtual tour of the building here.

Inside a replica of an original Bank of Italy. Image credit: HistorySanJose

Inside a replica of an original Bank of Italy. Image credit: History San Jose via Google Arts and Culture

Bank of America is one of the world’s foremost providers of banking, investment, and wealth management services. With a long history as one of the most successful and prominent banks in the United States, it shows no sign of stopping as it expands to other parts of the world and continues to develop new technologies and banking solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best Bank of America credit card?

For cash back, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card (Review) is basically your only option (aside from the student-focused Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students (Review), but it’s a great one, offering diverse, customizable rewards at no annual fee.

Avid travelers should instead consider the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card (Review). It charges a $95 annual fee, but comes with strong rewards and surprisingly great benefits, including a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit and a $100 annual incidental airline fee credit, easily offsetting the yearly price tag.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review), a secured card, is a good option for those looking to build credit from scratch or repair poor credit. Bank of America will regularly review your account, and may return your security deposit if you’re judged a responsible enough cardholder.

Other than that, the bulk of Bank of America’s credit cards are co-branded. Take the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card, the Free Spirit® Travel More World Elite Mastercard®, and the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard® for example — they’re all strong offers, but only if you spend a lot of money with their respective brands.

What credit scores do you need to get Bank of America cards?

BofA’s consumer cash back and travel rewards cards are designed for applicants with good credit. That’s a FICO score of at least 670.

Most of the bank’s co-branded cards are designed for good credit, too, though you may see occasional variation.

Its student cards are designed for applicants with limited credit history, though you may even be approved for them without any credit history whatsoever. The same goes for the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card; it’s actually aimed at those with bad credit, but it may be attainable even by those who’ve yet to establish a credit file.

Regardless, before you apply, know this: Great credit scores won’t guarantee your approval. Other factors, like your income, may cause you to be denied even with solid scores, or allow you to be approved even with scores that aren’t that great.

Does Bank of America issue Visa or Mastercard credit cards?

Right now, Bank of America issues some of both. The BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card, at the time of publishing, uses the Mastercard network.

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Card (Review), Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card (Review), and Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card (Review), on the other hand, now use the Visa network, though they used to use Mastercard.

Check the Bank of America site for the most up-to-date information, as this kind of thing is subject to change.

Can you have multiple Bank of America credit cards?

Yes! There doesn’t appear to be a limit on how many Bank of America credit card accounts you can have at once. Just make sure you know how much credit you can handle responsibly so you don’t overspend.

Written by

Brendan Harkness

Brendan has been writing about personal finance for over eight years, and is now taking on the challenge of bringing high-quality credit education to the masses. He makes sure that Credit Card Insider is covering the most important credit topics transparently and precisely, and that we have up-to-date reviews of credit cards so you can find cards that are right for you.

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