Today’s feature: Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card review

One of the most lucrative travel rewards credit cards
One of the most lucrative travel rewards credit cards

I reviewed Bank of America’s BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card in this post: Anatomy of a credit card: Bank of America BankAmericard Cash Rewards review

Next in the line is Bank of America’s BankAmericard Travel Rewards card, one of my favorite credit cards, and one of the most under-rated rewards credit cards.

Unlike the other card which targets consumers with a high portion of everyday spending allocated to grocery and gas purchases, this card focuses on travelers. Still, both bearing the BankAmericard brand, these two cards offer very similar benefits. To avoid repeating myself, I will highlight the main features, and if you’d like to read into the features, you can refer to my review of the Cash Rewards card.

Bank of America’s credit cards: an insider’s view is my blog post that describes the hidden benefits of owning  a BofA credit card. Check it out!

I.  Non-loyalty points rewards

The rewards type is non-loyalty points, where points are redeemed at a 1 cent per point ratio for travel expenses. “Travel” is very broadly defined. I have skimmed through their program details and found that travel expenses include purchases from:

Airlines, air carriers; Lodging-Hotels, Motels, Resorts; Car Rental Agencies; Cruise Lines or Travel Agencies and Tour Operators; Passenger Railways; Transportation-Suburban and Local Commuter Passenger, including Ferries; Bus Lines; Transportation Services; Real Estate Agents and Managers—Rentals or Timeshares; Campgrounds and Trailer Parks; Motor Home and Recreational Vehicle Rental; Tourist Attractions and Exhibits; Amusement Parks, Carnivals, Circuses, Fortune Tellers; Aquariums, Dolphinariums, Zoos, and Seaquariums; Boat Leases and Boat Rentals; and Recreation Services-not elsewhere classified

Not sure how to comment on this extensive list. I bet massage services in your home city count, too 😉

1. Reward formula: 1.5 points per dollar on everything. If you book travels through Bank of america’s Travel Center, a practice that I do not necessarily recommend, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar. If you have a banking account with BofA, you’ll get an annual 10% points bonus, making your earning rate effectively 1.65 points per dollar.

2. Redemption option: Point redemption works in the form of expense reimbursement: you pay the expenses up front, then get partial credit back. You get a credit of 1 cent per redeemed point.  Travel expenses will be available for redemption online for 6 months, and by phone for 12 months, from the posting date of the transaction.

3. Minimum amount for redemption: 2,500 points

And since the list of expenses eligible for point redemption covers most recreation services, points are as good as cash. I view this Bank of America’s BankAmericard Travel Rewards card as a 1.65% cashback rewards credit card.

II.  Card Benefits

1. No foreign transaction fees

Credit cards typically charge you 3% for purchases in another currency. Sometimes when you purchase a service whose office is based in another country such as hotel booking through hotels.com, you’d have to pay the foreign transaction fees since the transaction is in a foreign currency. With the BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card, you won’t pay these fees.

2. Free concierge service

Concierge service is actually a very helpful feature of this card. Sometimes when you travel to an unfamiliar location and need to get tickets for special events or find places that satisfy certain requirements, this concierge service will be very helpful: somebody else will actually do the legwork for you. I’ve tested this function out myself: their concierge, Silvia, was able to find very detailed information on shark viewing tours on Oahu, Hawaii, down to the prices, schedules, and pick-up locations.

3. Other benefits

The following features are common between this card and the Cash Rewards card:

  • Purchase Replacement
  • Purchase Guard
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Emergency Travel Assistance
  • Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance

III. Interest rate and fees

  • APR: 14.99% – 22.99%
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Balance transfer fee: 4%

IV. Additional benefits 

  • Overdraft Protection
  • ShopSafe
  • EMV Chip Technology
  • Tap&Pay
  • Mobile Banking and Text Banking

V. Introductory offer

  • $100 cash back bonus after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • 0% APR for 12 billing cycles

VI. Conclusion

I carried this card with me on my last international trip
I carried this card with me on my last international trip

In short, the Bank of America’s BankAmericard Travel Rewards is a very good no-annual fee, 1.65%-earning credit card that carries no foreign transaction fees and offers a complimentary concierge service. If you want a simple rewards card with a straightforward, high earning rate, you should consider this card. I have the card myself, and have been very satisfied with it. Together with the Cash Rewards card, this credit card will stay with me forever.

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15 thoughts on “Today’s feature: Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card review

  1. Did you apply for this card while still under secured card status? I am diligently following your blog (thank you for all the tips!) and I applied and got a bofa secured card this year. Can’t wait for it to graduate next year. However, I am currently taking my junior year abroad and the foreign transaction fees on the cash rewards secured card are not fun. I am considering applying for the rewards card but I am not sure if it is wise to do that now. What do you think?

  2. Hi Isaac,

    Yes, I got this card while my first card, also from Bank of America, was still a secured card. I don’t know how you’ll work out the foreign address issue; I’m pretty sure you need to have an American address to apply for a credit card, and then you’ll need to get the card sent to your foreign address. What you can do is request early graduation for your card; I have heard people getting success with just 6 months of history on the card. And once the card graduates you can request a product change to the Travel Rewards card; that way you won’t have to deal with the address issue, but you’ll miss out on the sign-up bonus.

    1. Wow, thanks for your quick reply! I still have my US address, it is just my box at my college so if i were to get the card, my mail center would forward it to me. I was just curious as to whether BofA would be willing to issue it to someone whose card is still a secured card.

      By the way, some back story: I’m an international student like you, and I applied for credit cards my freshman year, and sophomore year and got denied each time. I didn’t know enough about credit cards yet to know that I stood virtually no chance. Then this year, I stumbled upon your blog and applied for the secured card based on your recommendations. I did not previously have an account with bofa, so i opened one at the same time i applied for the card. I stupidly forgot to ask for the rewards version and I didn’t have a personal banker so i was given the ordinary one. In August, i tried to apply for the Travel Rewards since I was going to spend my junior year abroad and i got denied. I applied on the phone. When I went back to the branch where I opened my accounts but the person I spoke to didn’t mention the possibility of a manual overide. I don’t blame her, I had the card for only 3 months, and though I was doing every thing right, I guess she assumed that the response would be the same anyway – a denial. She however did arrange for me to be upgraded to the Cash Rewards.

      Fast forward to today, I was just googling the Travel Rewards card again, I used the exact search phrase : ‘bank of america travel rewards secured’ and the first link was your blog which I had completely forgotten about. Anyway, I went on to read and read more and more on your blog, I have almost read every post you have made on credit cards!

      While reading, i stumble on https://hiepsfinance.com/2013/01/30/bank-of-america-is-awesome/ . There you mentioned how your bank manager had gotten you in touch with someone who could do a manual overide, so it occured to me to try that. Even though currently abroad, and without a referal from a personal banker, I called bofa, and asked to speak to a credit analyst and requested them to reconsider my application for the credit rewards card which I had made in August, right before traveling abroad to begin my junior year, and 3 months after opening my secured card in May

      I made that application by phone and was instantly denied. Anyway, after a long hold on the phone while my account was reviewed (during which I was shaking) , the senior credit specialist gave me something very similar to your suggestion. Instead of graduating my card, she would close my secured card and get me the Travel Rewards card if I so desired! She told me something I didn’t know, which is that bofa does not give college students more than one credit card which is why she would be unable to give me the Travel Rewards card in addition to the secured Cash Rewards card.

      So I was quite shocked, I didn’t expect that since I’ve only had my secured card for 5 months, but fortunately, i’ve had no late payments and i’ve always paid my balance in full soon after my statement was released as you have always recommended. Anyway, I told her that I would think about it, simply because I don’t know enough about cards, like you, am an international student coming from a country where credit cards are not a thing!

      What would you honestly advise me to do? I am scared of this early graduation route because I’d like to keep both cards so that the great history I’ve already built on this secured card stays. I think that since I will be getting a new card and not graduating, I will not have your experience of retaining the history. I plan confirm that when I call back bofa after hearing from you because that is something I’d really like to know and I believe you’d like to know as well.

      I’m confused because the point of my getting the secured card was to be able to graduate in the future, so if bofa is ready to kinda sorta graduate me early, i feel as if I should be jumping at the opportunity, right? However, I’m just not sure if this graduation means that I will now be issued a non-secured card and have my huge deposit returned or if I will be given a Travel Rewards Secured Card if that even exists, but I highly doubt that.

      I was too shocked at the offer when speaking with the analyst that it didn’t occur to me to ask all these questions. I was also scared, hehe, I come from a third world country where officials change their minds at will, and I wondered if I asked too many questions, maybe the offer would be withdrawn, so I just made sure the offer would stand if I called back later to accept it because I wanted to hear your advice since you are clearly more knowledgeable about this than I am. The analyst assured me the offer would stand and gave me a direct no. to call as well as a ref. no.

      What would you honestly advise? Should I graduate to the Travel Rewards card now, or should I wait until my secured card automatically graduates, and apply for a Travel Rewards card then? The way she said it, it sounds like if I go through with the offer, I wont even have to lose the sign up bonuses! That is enticing, but I just want to make the best decision for my long run credit history. Unfortunately, since I am a college student, that would have to be after I graduate college, and since every case is different, I don’t even know if I will have the same fortune as you have had. I’m so confused and excited.

      P.S I realise this comment is very long, and sounds very rambling. I have no other way of contacting you which is why I am sending it through this, I look for an email address on your blog but I didn’t find any contact info. Thanks so much and I promise to keep you updated on this, whatever happens, especially if I do get the card, I will definitely reply with a shorter comment to say what happened and maybe you can feature my story on your blog or I can write about it myself! If you feel it is too long or gives away too much personal information or what not, please feel free to edit it.

      Thanks Richard, you have helped me get this far in my credit journey!

      1. Hi Isaac,

        In the earlier stages of credit building, the length of credit history is very important. Even though you will not lose the history with the secured card, the history with a closed card has less significance than that with an open card. If you see yourself applying for another card within the next 6 months or a year, I would strongly advise not closing the first card. Given the fact that the credit analyst was willing to give you a non-secured Travel Reward card, your credit profile must be good enough to warrant a non-secured card from Bank of America. If that is the case, early graduation should be feasible; after all, graduation is simply a product change: your secured card becomes a non-secured card. If you decide to request early graduation, definitely bring up the previous credit analyst’s offer to justify the request.

        Do you have any other concerns?

      2. Thanks, Richard! I was worried about this exactly and I’m glad I didn’t accept the offer on the spot.

        Please correct me if I am wrong, but if I were to request early graduation and then a product change, as your first reply recommended, wouldn’t they still close my just graduated card in order to effect the product change?

        That was the way I understood your comment, which is why I didn’t even ask for a graduation when I called bofa, I only asked them to kindly look into my denied Travel Rewards card application.

        If it will just be the same card with all the credit history remaining intact seamlessly, I would solve my problem of the foreign transaction fee while also graduating much sooner than i even imagined was possible – that would just be wonderful.

  3. Isaac,

    A product change only modifies the reward structure of the credit card and some benefits and terms; everything else, including the history of the card, is not affected. So no, they will not close your card. It will be the same card with a new reward structure.

  4. In fact Bank of America Travel Rewards card gives back only 0.9% and not 1.5% or 1.68%. It does give 1.5 points for every $1 spent but the cash redeeming rate scales it back to 0.9%.

    Cash redeeming rate is NOT 1 cent for every point.

    Of course the marketing language touts the $1 to 1.5 points even giving you charts with money spent and points redeemed but there is no chart about points to redeemed cash. Only when you want to redeem the points you get the realization that the 1.5% is in fact 0.9%.

    Therefore, look for other cards that give you at least 1% CASH back. The points is only a nice tool for marketing to lure math challenged customers.

    1. Hi Ben,

      You get the rate of 1 cent per point only when you redeem points toward travel purchases. This is a travel rewards card; the best redemption rate is always for travel. If you redeem points for merchandise or anything else, you will not get 1 cent per point.

      Every time I have redeemed 2,500 points, my credit card balance was reduced by $25; that is a rate of 1 cent per point, unless I did my math wrong.

  5. Very neat summary! I like that you highlighted that the points to cents ratio is 1:1. One can infer this from 2500 points being equivalent to $25, but it’s good to be explicit that this ratio is an invariant; I had to call the Travel Center to confirm because the information is not available in the card’s terms and conditions.

    One thing that I was hoping you would expound on is why you wouldn’t recommend booking through the BoA Travel Center. Are flights dramatically more expensive, less available, etc? Knowing this is important in assessing the value of this credit card. I have yet to find good reviews of the Travel Center anywhere.

    Thanks.

    1. Hey Michael,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I have found tickets on the BofA Travel Center generally more expensive than the same ones you can find on kayak.com, so the extra rewards are not worth it. The Amex Travel booking site is about the same, so I do not use either to book my trips. Hopes that helps.

      -Richard

  6. I would typically search for my flights on kayak or google, identify the flight and price I want, then go find that same flight on the Travel Center site. I am yet to encounter different prices between kayak and Travel Center. The downside I encountered is that if you have to change your flight for any reason, you have to pay a Travel Center fee in addition to the airline’s change fee.
    For hotels, there seems to be no way add your loyalty information to your profile as you can for flights. This stops me from using them to book hotels. Otherwise, as was previously noted, this card is great if you redeem your points for travel.

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