How the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card Stacks up Against Low- and No-Fee Cards

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One of the more exciting product launches of the year has been the introduction of the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card. The card carries a unique set of perks that make it a terrific option for many travelers, but it also joins an already crowded field of other contenders. How well does the card stack up to other low- and no-fee alternatives? Today’s post will attempt to answer that very question.

Let’s start with a quick overview table that compares the Premium Rewards Card to other popular and rewarding cards with low (or no) annual fee:

Card Bonus Earning Rate(s) Additional Travel Perks Annual Fee
Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days 2x points on travel/dining; 1.5x points everywhere else $100 annual airline fee credit; Global Entry credit; no foreign transaction fees $95
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months 2x points on travel and dining; 1x point everywhere else Primary car rental insurance; no foreign transaction fees $95 (waived for the first year)
Citi Double Cash None 1% cash back when you buy plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay None $0
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Terms Apply. 6x points at SPG/Marriott properties; 2x point everywhere else. Terms Apply. Free in-room premium internet access; no foreign transaction fees $95 (waived for the first year)
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express None 2x points on first $50,000 in purchases; 1x point thereafter. Terms Apply. None $0

As you can see, all of these cards represent solid values, and you could make a case for why each one should earn a spot in your wallet. Let’s take a closer look to see whether the Premium Rewards Card is the best option for you or if another one is a better fit for your unique situation.

Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card

Bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days
Earning rates: 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining; 1.5 points per dollar spent everywhere else (plus enhanced earning rates for Bank of America Preferred Rewards customers)
Additional perks: $100 annual airline incidental fee credit; up to a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every four years; no foreign transaction fees
Annual fee: $95

Analysis

As mentioned above, the Premium Rewards card is a great new addition to the travel rewards credit card landscape. It’s rare that a card with an annual fee of less than $100 includes travel credits, but that’s exactly the case here. You’ll enjoy a $100 annual credit toward airline incidentals like baggage fees, seat upgrades, lounge passes and in-flight purchases, and the card will give you a credit to cover the membership fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years. If you’re keeping score, that’s $200 of credit in the first year. Put another way, Bank of America is actually paying you $105 in year one to open the card.

That doesn’t even include the sign-up bonus and spending rates, which are solid for all cardholders but especially rewarding for customers with large Bank of America balances. If you have an eligible checking account and at least $20,000 in qualifying Bank of America/Merrill Edge/Merrill Lynch accounts, you qualify for the bank’s Preferred Rewards program and can boost your earning rates even higher:

  • Tier 1 – Gold ($20,000 – $50,000): 25% bonus
  • Tier 2 – Platinum ($50,000 – $100,000): 50% bonus
  • Tier 3 – Platinum Honors ($100,000+): 75% bonus

If you fall into the highest tier, you’re enjoying a 3.5% return on travel and dining purchases and a 2.625% return everywhere else.

The third terrific thing about the card is the simplicity of redeeming points. No matter the option you choose, you’re getting a constant value of 1 cent per point. You can select cash back (as a statement credit or deposited directly into an eligible bank account), travel purchases or gift cards and get that same value. While this won’t snag you premium-class award flights, it’s a straightforward program that allows basically anyone to get some solid bang for their buck.

Who should get this card?

Consider opening the Premium Rewards card if you:

  • Regularly have $100 or more in airline incidental fees;
  • Qualify for Bank of America Preferred Rewards; and/or
  • Value simplicity and flexibility in redemptions.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

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The Sapphire Preferred is a stalwart in the low-fee card echelon.

Bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months
Earning rates: 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining; 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else
Additional perks: Primary car rental insurance; no foreign transaction fees
Annual fee: $95 (waived for the first year)

Analysis

The Sapphire Preferred has been a popular card for a number of years thanks to a relatively low annual fee, a host of valuable perks and the ability to earn very valuable Ultimate Rewards points (2.2 cents apiece, based on TPG’s most recent valuations). You’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases, and Chase defines these categories quite broadly. Even the standard earning rate of 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases represents a 2.2% return, and the sign-up bonus alone is worth $1,100. The points you earn can then be transferred to a variety of partners; my personal favorites are Hyatt, British Airways and United.

The card also provides primary rental car coverage, ensuring that you won’t need to worry about loss or damage to your rental car when traveling. Like the Premium Rewards card, it also waives foreign transaction fees. All of these things should make you consider the Sapphire Preferred as your first card, especially since the annual fee is waived for the first year.

Who should get this card?

Consider opening the Sapphire Preferred if you:

  • Frequently rent cars;
  • Haven’t applied for five or more cards in the last two years; and/or
  • Know how to make the most of the Ultimate Rewards program.

Citi Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash card gives you a 2% return on all purchases.

Bonus: None
Earning rates: 1% cash back when you buy plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay
Additional perks: None
Annual fee: None

Analysis

Another card that offers a solid value proposition is the Citi Double Cash. Like the Premium Rewards card, the beauty of it is the simplicity. You’ll earn 1% cash back when you buy plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases. The card also carries no annual fee, so scoring an automatic return of 2% on all of your purchases without an out-of-pocket cost is quite lucrative. Just be aware that the card does incur a 3% foreign transaction fee, so it isn’t a great option for travel outside the US.

Who should get this card?

Consider opening the Citi Double Cash if you:

  • Are solely interested in simple, straightforward cash back; and/or
  • Rarely (if ever) travel outside of the US.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

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You could redeem points earned from the SPG Amex at luxurious resorts like the St. Regis Bora Bora.

Bonus: 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Earning rates: 6 points per dollar spent at SPG/Marriott properties; 2 points per dollar spent everywhere else
Additional perks: Free in-room premium internet access; no foreign transaction fees
Annual fee: $95 (waived for the first year)

Analysis

One of the most valuable programs in the points and miles world is Starwood Preferred Guest, and the SPG Amex allows you to boost your Starpoint balance with every purchase. You’ll earn 6 points per dollar spent at Starwood and Marriott properties and 2 point per dollar spent everywhere else, giving you a return of at least 2.7% on every purchase (based on TPG’s valuations).

Who should get this card?

Consider opening the SPG Amex if you:

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

Auf den Sitzen der 747-8 liegen ein Kissen, eine Decke und Lufthansa Kulturtaschen // A pillow, a blanket and Lufthansa amenity kits are lying on the seats of a 747-8
Membership Rewards points earned from the Blue Business Plus card can be quite valuable for redemptions like Lufthansa first or business class.

Bonus: None
Earning rates: 2 points per dollar spent on the first $50,000 in purchases each year; 1 point per dollar spent thereafter
Additional perks: None
Annual fee: $0

Analysis

The Blue Business Plus card is one of American Express’ fantastic small business credit cards, and its value proposition is simple. For the first $50,000 in purchases in a year, you’ll earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent. Since TPG pegs these points at 1.9 cents apiece, this is an incredible return of 3.8% on all purchases. There’s no worry about different categories of merchants or certain transactions not qualifying for a bonus. Every purchase you make (up to the $50,000 threshold) will earn double Membership Rewards points, and incredibly, the card carries no annual fee.

Who should get this card?

Consider opening the Blue Business Plus card if you:

  • Have experience maximizing redemptions through the Membership Rewards program; and/or
  • Have a small business in need of a simple yet rewarding card.

Bottom Line

Bank of America Premium Rewards
It may not be the flashiest option, but the Premium Rewards card is a great new addition to the points and miles hobby.

The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card is a solid addition to the fixed-value category of travel rewards credit cards, as it offers great earning rates, a great collection of perks and a simple yet rewarding redemption scheme. That being said, there are other low- and no-annual fee cards that may be a better fit for your wallet. It all comes down to your own individual spending patterns and what you’re looking to get out of a credit card. Hopefully this post has given you some guidance on which of these cards would make the most sense for you!

How do you think the Premium Rewards card stacks up?

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

This card from Bank of America gets really interesting if you have a BofA checking, savings or investment account. Depending on the value of your combined accounts you can potentially get as much as 3.5x on travel/dining and 2.625x on other purchases making it the richest consumer banking bonus out there.

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More Things to Know
  • Receive 50,000 bonus points- a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you can get a 25%-75% rewards bonus on every purchase.
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire
  • Flexibility to redeem for a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® or Merrill Lynch® accounts like checking, savings, and 529, for gift cards or use at the Bank of America Travel Center.
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.