Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Review: Impressive Travel Perks and Flexible Redemptions
A versatile rewards card that lets you choose between travel or cash back and includes a long list of valuable perks. Decide if you should apply after learning more about its feature set.
You have to give Bank of America kudos for its to-the-point approach when naming credit cards. Its cash-back card is the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. Its travel card is the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. And its most feature-packed offering is the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card.
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card combines the benefits of the other two cards and throws in some new ones for good measure. But it’s also the only one of those cards to carry an annual fee. Let’s see if you’ll get your money’s worth with this rewards card.
What I like about Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
Earn up to 2 points per $1 -- The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card earns these rewards rates:
- 2 points per $1 on travel and dining
- 1.5 points per $1 on all other spending
Most cards that have bonus categories only earn 1 point per $1 back on your other spending, but Bank of America gives you the best of both worlds.
50,000 bonus points -- This sign-up bonus is worth $500 and requires $3,000 of spending in the first 90 days after you open your account. For our money, this is one of the best sign-up bonuses based on its value and an easy-to-reach spending minimum.
Up to a 75% bonus for Preferred Rewards clients -- Parking your cash with Bank of America entitles you to extra credit card points, as there’s a Preferred Rewards program for banking and investment clients who meet three-month average combined-balance minimums in their Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Merrill Edge accounts. The table below shows you each tier of the program, the balances you’ll need, and how much of a bonus you’ll earn.
|Tier||Required Balance||Points Bonus||Rewards Rate per $1 on Travel and Dining||Rewards Rate per $1 on All Other Spending|
|Gold||$20,000 to $49,999.99||25%||2.5 points||1.875 points|
|Platinum||$50,000 to $99.999.99||50%||3 points||2.25 points|
|Platinum honors||$100,000 or more||75%||3.5 points||2.625 points|
$100 annual credit for airline incidentals -- Bank of America will automatically credit you up to $100 annually for incidental airline fees that you charge to your card. Common types of incidentals include baggage fees, daily airport lounge passes or annual lounge memberships, any type of ticketing fee, and in-flight services charged by the airline.
Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit -- You also receive a credit when you use your Bank of America® Premium Reward® to pay for either a Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership. This credit is available every four years, and memberships last for five with each program, but you’re allowed to renew a year in advance. Make sure you sign up for Global Entry, because TSA Precheck is included with that.
Multiple redemption options -- No matter how you choose to redeem your rewards, the value is $0.01 per point. The card offers several redemption options:
- Cash back as a statement credit
- Cash back as a deposit into your eligible Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account
- Travel purchases, including flights, hotels, or car rentals, you make through the Bank of America Travel Center
- Gift cards you select through Bank of America
Travel and purchase protections -- The card has an extensive set of protections that can help if anything goes wrong with travel or products that you purchase. The travel protections include coverage for trip delays, cancellations, interruptions, baggage delays, and lost luggage. Purchase protections include coverage for damage or theft and extended warranty coverage.
No foreign transaction fee -- You’re safe to use your card internationally without that pesky 3% fee many other cards have.
Why you can trust me
Since I both write about and use rewards credit cards, I look at all the finer details closely to ensure I know the ins and outs of each one. For The Ascent, I’ve written about dozens of credit cards, from the most popular cards available to the ones that are lesser-known. In my personal life, I’ve used credit cards to rake in thousands of dollars’ worth of rewards and travel benefits.
What could be improved
$95 annual fee -- Truth be told, $95 is a reasonable amount to charge for a card with so many benefits. Several other cards at that price point have their annual fees waived the first year, though, and it’d be nice if Bank of America did the same.
Better travel redemptions -- As I explained earlier, despite the multiple redemption options you’ll have with this card, I’d like to see Bank of America offer a higher fixed rate for travel redemptions, such as the $0.0125 to $0.015 per point you get with Chase’s travel rewards cards.
0% intro APR -- Unfortunately, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card has no 0% intro APR offers for purchases or balance transfers. You’ll need to look at other cards if that’s what you’re after.
The travel and purchase protections explained
The travel and purchase protections on the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card cover a wide range of situations. Here’s a look at the main types of protections the card offers and the limits on each:
|Benefit||What It Covers||Coverage Amount|
|Trip Delay Reimbursement||Reasonable expenses on eligible trips delayed by over 12 hours||Up to $500 per ticket purchased for you and your eligible family members|
|Trip Cancellation/Interruption||Unused, prepaid non-refundable travel expenses when you have to cancel due to a covered reason||Up to $5,000 per person, per trip|
|Baggage Delay||Bags with essential items that are delayed or misdirected for over six hours||Up to $100 per day for up to five days|
|Lost Luggage Reimbursement||Luggage that’s lost or stolen||Not specified|
|Purchase Security||Theft or damage on an eligible item within 90 days of purchase||Up to $10,000 per claim|
|Warranty Manager Service||Manufacturers’ warranties for eligible items||Doubles time period of manufacturers’ warranty, up to one additional year|
|Return Protection||Eligible items you purchased within 90 days that you’re dissatisfied with but the retailer won’t accept a return||Up to $250 per eligible item and up to $1,000 annually, item must also be received by Benefit Administrator in like-new/good working condition|
Remember that you only qualify for these protections if you use your Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card to make the purchase or pay for your travel.
How to maximize your points redemptions
Although your first instinct when redeeming your points for travel would probably be to go through the Bank of America Travel Center, the better method is to purchase the travel in cash, and then redeem your points for cash back to cover the purchase. That way, you’ll still earn points on that purchase, which you wouldn’t if you paid in points.
Here’s a comparison to show the difference in your options:
- You go through the Bank of America Travel Center and use 50,000 points to buy $500 in travel. Total -- 50,000 points spent, 0 points earned
- You buy $500 in travel with your Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, and then use 50,000 points for a $500 statement credit. Total -- 50,000 points spent, 1,000 points earned (you spent $500 and earned 2 points per $1 because it was a travel expense)
What to look for in a rewards credit card
When you’re picking a rewards card, there are three things to ask:
- How much can you earn in rewards?
- How can you use your rewards?
- How much is the annual fee?
With its high rewards rates and sign-up bonus, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card can be a big earner for you. And you’re guaranteed a solid value for your points due to the fixed rate of $0.01 per point.
Annual fees are common with rewards cards, and the fee is usually worth the benefits you get from the card. In the case of the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, the airline incidentals credit alone can make up for the entire annual fee, assuming you’re able to use it.
How much you can earn
Points and percentages are great, but it’s also nice to have a concrete idea of what you’ll earn with your credit card. That’s why I’ve put together a breakdown of how much the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card would earn year after year on reasonable annual spending of $30,000, $5,000 of which is in the travel and dining categories.
|Preferred Rewards||$5,000 in travel and dining (2 points per $1)||$25,000 in other spending (1.5 points per $1)||Airline Incidental Fee Credit||Annual Earnings (after subtracting $95 annual fee)||First-Year Earnings (with $500 sign-up bonus included)|
Suggested credit score
Try to get your credit score as high as you can before applying for the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, as we recommend applicants have good to excellent credit, which usually coincides with a FICO® Score of 670 or higher. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but Bank of America can be strict with applications, even though the suggested range for approval is good to excellent credit. Reports indicate that it can also help your application when you have a banking or investment account with Bank of America.
This card is right for you if…
If you’re in the Preferred Rewards program, then the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is without a doubt the card for you. With that program’s bonuses added in, the card’s rewards rates will be too good to pass up.
And what about for everyone else? The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is one of the better cards out there, whether you’re interested in travel benefits or cash back. You should consider applying if you prefer the simplicity of fixed-rate point redemptions and a card that earns a solid rewards rate on all your spending.