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Traveling can be stressful. But if you’re vacationing without a travel rewards credit card, you’re making it more stressful than it needs to be.
A good travel card can help you earn points for your trips and other purchases, and provide you with peace of mind through benefits like auto rental insurance and trip cancellation coverage.
If you’re looking for a new travel card, the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card might be for you.
With a $95 annual fee, this credit card offers 2X points per $1 spent on dining and travel and 1.5X points per $1 spent on all other purchases. Those points are worth 1 cent each, so you can get a cash back equivalent of 2%. But if you’re a Bank of America banking or Merrill Lynch investment customer, you can earn even more. Depending on your account balance you can get an extra rewards bonus, letting you earn as much as 3.5% cash back.
Plus, there’s a 50,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. That’s a cash value of $500.
Cardholders also get access to a nice suite of travel benefits, particularly a $100 airline credit and a $100 statement credit for the application fee of Global Entry or TSA Pre✓.
We give the Premium Rewards card 5 out of 5 Stars because it essentially pays for itself. For frequent travelers, it’s a strong addition to your wallet.
The Premium Rewards card is a good mid-range option for travelers, offering valuable rewards and useful benefits for a moderate fee of $95. However, if you’re looking for other features and perks, check out the alternatives below.
You can earn the equivalent of 1.5% to 2% cash back on your purchases, depending on how you use your card. If you’re part of the Preferred Rewards program, the cash back equivalent can be as high as 3.5%.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
You can rack up rewards quickly by spending in the travel and dining categories, which are very broad and include a wide variety of purchase types. You’ll earn 2X points per $1 spent on expenses like flights or meals at restaurants.
And you’ll get 1.5X points per $1 spent on all other purchases, such as groceries or gas.
Points are worth 1 cent each, so at these rates you’ll earn 2% cash back on travel and dining purchases, and 1.5% cash back on everything else.
However, if you enroll in the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, you can get earn even more when you spend. Through this program, the total balances of your Bank of America bank accounts and Merrill Lynch investment accounts determines the bonus tier you receive. The bonus is applied at the time of purchase, so you’ll earn more points whenever you pay for something.
|Preferred Rewards Tier||Combined Balance Required||Cash Back Bonus||Points Earned (Travel/Dining Category)|
For example, if have at least $20,000 in a banking account, you’ll qualify for the Gold Tier, which gives you a 25% rewards bonus. That means if you would have earned 1,000 points, you’d get an additional 250 points for a total of 1,250. That’s a cash back equivalent of 2.5%.
Depending on your bank account balance, you could qualify for a reward bonus as high as 75%, giving you a cash back equivalent of 3.5% on travel and dining.
As long as your account remains open and in good standing, your points never expire.
The travel category is fairly broad, covering expenses you normally wouldn’t think of, like toll bridges and parking lot fees. The dining category covers restaurants, fast food, and bars, but does not include food purchased at grocery stores, bakeries, or other merchants that may sell food. You can see the eligible purchase types for each category below.
|Parking lots and Garages||Tolls and Bridge fees||Travel agencies||Limousines||Campgrounds||Cruises|
|Boat rentals||Ferries||Timeshares||Theme parks||Tourist attractions||Art galleries|
|Restaurants||Fast Food||Bars and Taverns|
Your points are worth 1 cent each, regardless of your redemption method.
Redemptions for statement credits and account deposits tend to be the fastest and easiest methods, so we recommend sticking with them. However, there are several different ways to redeem your points:
You must have at least 2,500 points to redeem, which provides $25 in value. To earn 2,500 points, you’d have to spend $1,250 at the 2X rate.
You can earn a lot of rewards with the Premium Rewards Card. However, its benefits offer a ton of value, too. Frequent travelers will enjoy these perks, as they can enhance and streamline your trips.
For more details on the benefits, check out the terms and conditions of the Premium Rewards Card (look in the fine print under the APR information).
And for more information about the shopping and travel protections in particular, visit this Premium Rewards web page.
If you fly regularly, you’ll appreciate an annual $100 airline incidental statement credit. Use your Premium Rewards Card to pay for incidental purchases on a flight – such as WiFi, baggage fees, or drinks onboard – and you’ll get statement credits up to $100 each calendar year.
One thing to note is that you only earn the credit if you use the card for incidental purchases. Other costs, like purchasing airline tickets or gift cards, are not eligible for the credit. (Some people report being reimbursed for certain airline gift cards with travel credits like these, even though the terms state that this won’t happen).
This is a very rare feature to find on a card that only costs $95. You typically only see these travel credits on more expensive cards, and they usually aren’t enough to offset the annual fee all on their own, like this $100 credit can. This credit can also be used with any airline, making it more flexible than what you get with some other cards. You’ll also get a $100 airline credit with the American Express® Gold Card (Review), for example (through 2021), but in that case you need to pick one specific airline each year to use it with.
Sick of fumbling with your belt and juggling your Kindle and laptop through airport security?
There’s an easier way, and the Premium Rewards Card will help you through it. You can sign up for programs like Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ to expedite your way through security.
Just use your card to pay for the application fee – $85 for TSA Pre✓ or $100 for Global Entry – and you’ll get a statement credit for that amount within seven days.
This credit is only available once every four years, and can only be used for one program, not both. Global Entry actually includes TSA Pre✓, so for most people it probably makes sense to go with Global Entry.
A Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application fee credit is a common feature on high-end travel cards, but it’s unusual to see on a mid-range card like this. You won’t get this perk with other comparable travel cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Barclaycard Arrival Plus.
Want to feel like a VIP? The Luxury Hotel Collection by Visa Signature gives you special perks at select hotels all over the globe that enhance your experience, including:
Just visit the Luxury Hotel Collection website to find a hotel for your next trip.
You’ll find the Luxury Hotel Collection offered on many Visa Signature travel cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred below. Other card networks have similar services — some Amex cards have the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, while some Mastercards, like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, have the Luxury Hotels & Resorts program.
With the Premium Rewards Card, you get access to the Visa Signature Concierge Service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It serves as a sort of assistant, except it puts Siri or Alexa to shame.
You’ll get help from a real person, helping you to coordinate trips, book tickets, secure reservations, or even send flowers.
You can use the concierge at any time, but they’re especially helpful when you’re traveling to a new city and you need help navigating the food and entertainment scene.
You can call your Visa Signature concierge service any time at 1-800-953-7392.
Concierge services are becoming pretty common on credit cards today, especially when it comes to travel cards. You’ll get it with similar travel cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclaycard Arrival Plus, as well as on many cards with higher fees.
You can keep track of one of your credit scores for free with your Bank of America card. You’ll be able to check your FICO Score 8, based on data from your TransUnion credit report.
Most credit card issuers today offer some type of free credit score, but it’s nice that Bank of America provides an actual FICO score. If you don’t have another way to access scores based on your TransUnion credit report, this could be quite valuable.
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|15.99%–22.99% Variable||15.99%–22.99% Variable||18.99%–27.24% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$95||None||3%, $10 minimum||See Terms|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Up to 29.99% Variable||Up to $40||Up to $29|
The Premium Rewards Card has an annual fee of $95.
There is no introductory offer for new purchases, so any new purchases you make will start accruing interest unless you pay the statement balance in full. We recommend doing so, because it will help keep your credit utilization low in addition to preventing interest charges. It doesn’t really make sense to use this card for balance transfers, as it doesn’t have a low APR offer for that.
There are no foreign transaction fees, so it’s a great card to use when traveling outside the country.
If approved for the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card, your credit line will be at least $5,000.
You can also request a credit line increase at any time. If you want a higher limit, we recommend requesting an increase after 6 to 12 months.
If you love food and travel, the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card offers good value and benefits.
To decide whether or not it’s right for you, consider how often you travel and eat out. If you eat out several times a month and travel at least once a year, you’ll quickly earn rewards.
Between its rewards and introductory bonus, along with benefits like the $100 airline credit and $100 Global Entry/TSA Pre✓ credit, there are plenty of ways to save money and offset the $95 annual fee.
However, if you’re looking for a travel card with a different set of perks, like the ability to transfer points to airline and hotel programs, you’ll have to look elsewhere. You’ll need to find another card, like some of the ones mentioned below.
To apply for the Premium Rewards Card, click on the Apply Now button below and complete the online application. Most people will receive a response within seconds, but in some cases, it could take longer.
If approved, you’ll get a notification. If you’re not approved, you’ll receive a letter in the mail explaining why you were denied.
If you’re looking for a card that offers more luxurious benefits than the Premium Rewards Card, the American Express® Gold Card (Review) may be for you. A metal card that comes in gold (and previously rose gold), frequent travelers can find a lot of value in the rewards and benefits.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
Depending on what you buy, you could get a cash back equivalent of up to 8% back on your purchases, blowing the Premium Rewards Card out of the water.
If you love food and travel, you can earn Membership Rewards points quickly. Unlike the Premium Rewards Card, the Gold Card allows you to earn 4X points per $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets, a handy category to have along with worldwide restaurants. That can be a nice perk if you like to cook at home. Plus, you’ll get 3X points per $1 spent on flights.
Because statement credits will only give you 0.6 cents per point and other travel redemptions only provide up to 1 cent per point, it makes sense to hold out for point transfers. You could get 2 cents per point or more, depending on the deal you find. That works out to a cash back equivalent of 8% when spending in the 4X categories, 6% cash back when spending in the 3X categories, 4% cash back when spending in the 2X category, and 2% cash back on all other purchases (at an annual fee of $250).
The American Express Gold Card offers some of the same benefits as the Premium Rewards Card, but it also has some other perks that may make it worth its higher annual fee.
The Gold Card has an annual fee of $250, more than double the cost of the Premium Rewards Card.
There are no foreign transaction fees. However, American Express isn’t widely accepted outside of the United States, so the Premium Rewards Card will likely be a better choice when traveling internationally.
Read more in our Review of the American Express Gold Card
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
Like the Premium Rewards Card, Chase Ultimate Reward points are generally worth 1 cent each. But redeem them for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards and you’ll get a 25% bonus, so your points will be worth 1.25 cents each.
That gives you a cash back equivalent of 2.5% for travel and dining, with 1.25% everywhere else. That introductory bonus would be worth $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
You can get more value from your points by transferring them to an airline or hotel program. By doing a point transfer, you could get 2 cents per point or more, giving you a cash back equivalent of 4% for travel and dining purchases, and 2% on everything else.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers some of the same benefits as the Premium Rewards Card, but one important difference is the ability to transfer points to airline and hotel travel loyalty programs.
There is a $95 annual fee. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is not currently available for new applicants.
If you’re looking for a strong travel rewards credit card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (Review) is a good all-around option. It offers the same rewards rate regardless of the purchases you make, letting you easily earn double points on every transaction.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
|Redemption Bonus Offer|
This card offers 2X points for every purchase. You can get 1 cent per mile when redeeming for travel statement credits. That comes to the equivalent of 2% cash back for every purchase you make. You can also get a redemption bonus of 5% of your miles back every time you redeem them, which means you’re effectively earning 2.1X miles per dollar, for a 2.1% cash back equivalent.
You’ll also get a 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days and pay the annual fee, a $700 value. But you’ll need to spend $5,000 to get it, which is a bit high for an intro bonus of this size.
This card is similar to the Premium Rewards card in that each mile is only worth 1 cent and there is no point transfer ability. However, with the Arrival Plus card you can earn 2X points on all purchases, without being restricted to travel and dining like the Bank of America card.
With an annual fee close to that of the Premium Rewards Card, the Arrival Plus card has comparable benefits.
The Arrival Plus card has an None annual fee, making it less expensive than the Premium Rewards Card (which has a $95 fee that is not waived the first year).
There are no foreign transaction fees and it is a Mastercard, making it a smart choice for international travel because it will have broad acceptance.
Unlike the Premium Rewards Card, which does not have a balance transfer intro offer, the Arrival Plus card gives you 0% for 12 months. That gives you some time to transfer a balance and pay it off before the regular APR rate of 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% Variable kicks in.
Read more in our Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
Many hotels offer their own co-branded credit cards, and if you have a favorite hotel chain you should look for an associated card. If you frequent Hilton hotels, for example, you might like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Review).
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
If you stay at Hilton hotels or resorts often, you’ll rack up points quickly. You’ll get at least 30X points per $1 spent at eligible Hilton properties (12X points from the card and 18X points for Hilton Honors Gold status), in part from this card and in part from your Hilton Gold member status. If you value those points at 0.4–1 cent each, you’ll be getting a cash back equivalent of 12–30% at Hilton properties.
You can earn a much better return on your spending with the Surpass Card than with the Premium Rewards card. However, the rewards have more limitations. To get the best value you’ll need to redeem them for stays or other purchases with one specific hotel brand (Hilton), whereas you have more flexibility with the Premium Rewards card,
If you’re not a fan of Hilton hotels, you can find similar deals with other hotel chains.
The benefits that the Surpass Card offers are pretty typical of a hotel credit card. Frequent Hilton customers should be able to get quite a bit of value from them, particularly the hotel status, airport lounge access, and ability to earn free night stays.
The Hilton Honors Surpass Card costs $95 per year and has no foreign transaction fees.
In that sense it’s just like the Premium Rewards card, but the downside is that American Express cards aren’t accepted very widely in countries outside the U.S. So if you’ll be traveling abroad you’ll be better off with the Bank of America card, which is a Visa (and Visa cards are accepted pretty much everywhere credit cards are accepted).
Read more in our Review of the Hilton Honors Surpass Card
Looking for even more rewards at Hilton resorts? Check out the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, an upgraded version of the Surpass Card that costs $450 per year but comes with a variety of excellent perks.
Are you looking for a new travel card? See some other great card options in the Best Travel Credit Cards.
Do you use the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card? Let us know how you like it by leaving your own review!
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