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Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card: Travel Rewards With No Annual Fee

Bank of America and Merrill customers may be able to earn even more rewards.

CNET’S PICK
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

6.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
25,000 points 25,000 online bonus points after 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.
Annual fee
$0
APR
18.24% – 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Rewards rate
1.5x 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
Rewards Rate
1.5x
1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card* is CNET’s pick for the best travel credit card with no annual fee. It’s particularly valuable if you’re already a Bank of America customer, but still worth considering if you’re not.

While travel credit cards with an annual fee may offer more travel perks and better rewards, this card has a solid flat rewards rate on all purchases with the opportunity to earn even higher rewards if you have a Bank of America deposit account or Merrill investment account. As is standard, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card has no foreign transaction fees.

There is one significant restriction: If you want to redeem rewards as statement credits, you can only use them toward travel and restaurant charges, so be sure you specifically want a travel card before you apply. Below we review the rewards, Bank of America Preferred Rewards® program for Bank of America customers, additional perks and some other cards to consider.

Rewards and redemption

You’ll earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent with the Bank of America Travel Rewards card, without restrictions or caps. This is a decent return rate across all purchases, but other credit cards with no annual fee offer better rewards rates on top of that. However, there are two niche opportunities to earn more points per dollar spent.

Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for a statement credit, but you can only use statement credits for travel or restaurant charges. Though the categories are still fairly broad, this is one caveat to keep in mind when deciding if this card is right for your spending habits. Here’s a breakdown of the categories you can redeem statement credits for:

AirlinesTravel agenciesToll and bridge fees
HotelsTour operatorsArt galleries
MotelsReal estate agentsAmusement parks
TimesharesPassenger trainsCarnivals/Circuses
Trailer parksBusesAquariums
Motor home and RV rentalsTaxisZoos
CampgroundsLimousinesBars/Taverns
Car rental agenciesFerriesRestaurant/Eating places
Truck and trailer rentalBoat rentalsCocktail lounges/Night clubs
Cruise linesParking lots and garagesDiscotheques


You’ll also need a minimum of 2,500 points (equivalent to $25) to redeem statement credits. When compared to other credit card reward programs, these redemption restrictions make this card relatively inflexible.

Though not heavily advertised, there are two scenarios where you can earn more than the 1.5 points per dollar spent. One way is by booking travel through Bank of America’s Travel Center, where you can earn 3 points per dollar. Many travel credit cards offer some form of branded booking platform, often with elevated rewards rates.

The other way you can earn more than 1.5 points per dollar spent is if you are a Preferred Rewards member.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards program

If you have a Bank of America deposit account and/or Merrill Investment accounts, you can leverage your combined balance to earn even more credit card rewards. The Preferred Rewards program offers three different tiers -- Gold, Platinum and Platinum Honors -- through which you can earn boosted rewards rate on all of your spending.

Applying Preferred Rewards to Bank of America Travel Rewards card

TierCombined accounts threshold*Point increaseRewards rate
Gold$20,000 to < $50,00025% points increase1.87 points per dollar
Platinum$50,000 to < $100,00050% points increase2.25 points per dollar
Platinum Honors$100,000 and up75% points increase2.62 points per dollar

*Combined accounts thresholds are based on a three-month combined daily average.

If you already bank or invest with Bank of America or Merrill, this card can offer a competitive rewards rate across your purchases -- it’s hard to find flat rates greater than 2%. 

The Preferred Rewards program applies beyond this Bank of America Travel Rewards card, so it could be worth looking at other Bank of America credit cards to see what best fits your spending.

Welcome bonus

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card offers a top welcome bonus among competitors with no annual fee. 

You earn 25,000 bonus points if you spend at least $1,000 in the first 90 days from when you open your account. These points can be redeemed for $250 of statement credits toward travel or dining. Many credit cards with no annual fee have a welcome bonus valued around $200 or less, and between a $500 and $750 spending threshold to unlock it. But if you normally spend at least $334 per month on your credit card, this welcome bonus is better than most.

Introductory APR

This card offers an introductory APR you can use to help finance a trip or other large purchase, or to transfer a balance to pay down debt more easily.

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card comes with 15 billing cycles of 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers (18.24% to 28.24% variable APR thereafter). That means you won’t incur interest charges on purchases for the first 15 billing cycles after you open this card account -- as long as you make all your minimum payments on time. Similarly, you can transfer a balance you have on a high-interest credit card to get some relief from interest charges if you complete the transfer within the first 60 days of approval, with an introductory 3% balance transfer fee (then 4%). We advise paying off the whole balance by the end of the promotion though, otherwise you’ll be subject to a 18.24% to 28.24% variable APR thereafter. Those interest charges add up quickly.

Other cards to consider

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card* is another travel credit card with no annual fee, with an all-around weaker offer. The rewards rate and welcome bonus are overall slightly lower, and the introductory APR promotion is a bit shorter.

You’ll earn 1.25 miles per every dollar spent -- which translates to a 1.25% return rate if you redeem your miles for statement credits. If you opt to book car rentals or hotels through Capital One Travel, you’ll earn 5 miles per dollar. You can also unlock 20,000 miles -- a $200 value -- with the welcome bonus, after spending $500 in the first three months of account opening.

You’ll also get 15 months of introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. After this period your APR will jump up to 19.99% to 29.99% variable. 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited®* doesn’t have an annual fee and will ultimately net you greater rewards rates -- and more redemption flexibility. It’s technically a cash-back credit card, rather than a travel credit card, but it can be applied to travel as well.

You’ll get the same 1.5% flat cash-back rate, but earn a higher rewards rate of 3% cash back on dining and drugstore purchases. If you want to book your travel accommodations through Chase Ultimate Rewards, Chase’s booking platform, you can also earn 5% cash back on those purchases -- a higher rate than you’d earn when booking through the Bank of America Travel Center. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for a statement credit, which can be applied to any charges.

You also get 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers made in the first 15 months of opening your account (20.49% to 29.24% variable APR thereafter).

For more details about this card, see our Chase Freedom Unlimited review.

How Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card compares to other cards

CNET’S PICK
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

6.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
25,000 points 25,000 online bonus points after 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.
Annual fee
$0
APR
18.24% – 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
Rewards rate
1.5x 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Learn More

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

8/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
Intro Offer
Earn a $200 bonus Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Annual fee
$0
APR
20.49% – 29.24% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Rewards rate
1.5% – 5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service; 1.5% on all other purchases
American Express® Gold Card
Apply Now

American Express® Gold Card

7.5/10 CNET Rating CNET rates credit cards by comparing their offers to those of their categorical competitors. Each card is individually evaluated through a formula which reflects the standards and expectations of the contemporary market. Credit card issuers have no say or influence in our ratings. How we rate credit cards
See Rates & Fees Terms apply
Intro Offer
60,000 Membership Rewards® Points Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Annual fee
$250
APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Rewards rate
3x – 4x Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.; Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).; Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Apply Now
On American Express’s secure website

FAQs

You won’t find foreign transaction fees on most travel credit cards. Foreign transaction fees are charged by other types of credit cards when you use your card internationally. This charge is meant to cover transactional costs. In most cases, foreign transaction fees amount to 3% of the amount you charge to your credit card.

Premium travel cards are more expensive than most travel credit cards -- they typically have annual fees ranging in the hundreds of dollars. In exchange, they offer better benefits than typical travel cards, such as higher rewards rates, more annual credits or better travel upgrades. They’re typically marketed to frequent travelers.

Co-branded airline credit cards are designed for frequent flyers of a specific airline. Their benefits are usually more targeted to flights than general travel. For example, perks often include a discount on in-flight purchases, or companion fares that allow you to bring a guest on your trip. If you’re not loyal to one airline, a general travel card usually offers better rewards for most travelers.

Read more: Airline Cards vs. Travel Credit Cards

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back rates, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone’s financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card. 

*All information about the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card, Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Jaclyn is a CNET Money editor who relishes the sweet spot between numbers and words. With responsibility for overseeing CNET's credit card coverage, she writes and edits news, reviews and advice. She has experience covering business, personal finance and economics, and previously managed contracts and investments as a real estate agent. Her tech interests include Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company and Neuralink.