Bank of America offers an impressive lineup of more than 20 credit cards that run the gamut from cash-back credit cards to airline credit cards. It can be helpful to analyze these cards individually and see where they might fit in your wallet instead of trying to build out a grand strategy such as the Chase or Amex Trifecta. See cards below from our partners.
- Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card — Best for flexible earning structure
- Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card — Best for flat-rate earning structure
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card — Best for travel insurance
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card — Best for earning Alaska miles
- 3% Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
- 2% Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
- 1% Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
Why we chose it
The Bank of America Cash Rewards is a solid cash back card with the potential to offer lucrative rewards for smaller budgets. If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25 to 75% more cash back on every purchase.
- 1.5% Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every time.
Why we chose it
The Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card brings in simplicity to the line-up of the best Bank of America cards. With an easy-to-remember 1.5% rewards rate, you could potentially earn 25 to 75% more cash back on every purchase if you’re a Preferred Rewards member. That means you could earn up to 2.62% cash back on every purchase.
- 2X Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 you spend on travel and dining purchases.
- 2X Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on grocery store purchases - now through 12/31/21.
- 1.5X Earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all other purchases.
Why we chose it
The Bank of America Premium Rewards card is great for using the points earned for rewards that normal airline miles or credit card points can’t cover. Bank of America Preferred Rewards members get a 25%-75% rewards bonus on every purchase. New cardmembers earn a 50,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.
- 3X Earn unlimited 3 miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases.
- 1X Unlimited 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Why we chose it
There’s a lot to love about the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card, in part due to its highly valuable loyalty program: Alaska Airlines MileagePlan. Whether you’re a loyal Alaska flyer or a points maximizer looking to diversify your rewards portfolio, this card has a lot to offer. For starters, you’ll receive Alaska’s Famous Companion Pass each year for $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22), free checked bags for you and up to six guests on your itinerary, 50% off Alaska lounge day passes and more. Plus, Alaska has joined the Oneworld alliance, opening up endless redemption opportunities.
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Comparing the best Bank of America credit cards
|Card||Best for||Welcome bonus||Annual fee|
|Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card||Flexible earning structure||$200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening||$0|
|Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card||Flat-rate travel rewards||25,000 points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening — which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases||$0|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card||Travel insurance||50,000 points (a $500 value) after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening||$95|
|Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card||Earning Alaska miles||Get 50,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) with this online offer. To qualify, make purchases of $2,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.||$75|
|Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard||Flying Blue flyers||Limited-time offer: $100 statement credit plus 50,000 miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening||$89|
|Free Spirit Travel More World Elite Mastercard||Low-budget travelers||Earn 40,000 bonus points plus a $100 Companion Flight Voucher after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening||$79, waived the first year|
|Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card||Flexible business bonus categories||$300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening||$0|
|Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card||Everyday business expenses||30,000 points after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening — which can be redeemed for a $300 statement credit toward travel or dining-related purchases||$0|
The information for the Air France KLM World Elite and Free Spirit Travel More cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Best Bank of America credit cards
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: $200 after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Earning rate: 3% cash back in the category of your choice each month (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement and furnishings), 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1%) and 1% on everything else.
Why you should apply: The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards card is one of the only credit cards that allows you to essentially customize your rewards structure to fit your changing spending habits throughout the year — with the chance to change categories every month. This is especially valuable right now, as many people continue to shift their spending habits away from gas and travel to online shopping and takeout, thanks to the ongoing pandemic. This card will give you the freedom to change your rewards every month to maximize your spending, and then revert back to other spending categories once you are traveling and going to work again.
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: 25,000 points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening — which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
Earning rate: 1.5x on all purchases.
Why you should apply: This card operates similarly to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. You’re earning flat-rate rewards across all spending, and then you can use those rewards as a statement credit to erase eligible travel purchases.
Although this certainly isn’t the most lucrative or flexible rewards card, it is perfect for low-budget beginner travelers who want a card with no annual fee and a simple way to earn and redeem points.
Annual fee: $95.
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points (a $500 value) after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Earning rate: 2x on travel and dining, and 1.5x on all other purchases. Plus, earn 2x points on grocery store purchases- now through the end of 2021.
Why you should apply: For such a low annual fee, this Bank of America card packs a punch. You’ll get $500 in value out of the sign-up bonus, and you’ll get perks such as an up-to-$100 annual airline incidental statement credit and an up-to-$100 credit that can be applied toward the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment fee every four years.
It also comes with travel insurance protections including trip delay/cancellation/interruption insurance, baggage delay/loss insurance, emergency evacuation and transportation insurance, and rental car insurance — perks that normally come with more premium cards.
The Premium Rewards card is a bit more flexible than Bank of America’s other branded credit cards because you can redeem your rewards for travel, cash back or even deposit into a linked Bank of America or Merrill account. Plus, the fact that you earn 1.5x on non-bonus spending means this is a good card for everyday purchases.
However, you can boost your return by as much as 75% through Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. To participate, you’ll need an eligible Bank of America checking account and an average daily balance of at least $20,000 in qualifying deposit or investment accounts. The largest bonus is available to customers with a balance of $100,000 or more — at that level, you’ll earn 3.5 points per dollar on dining and travel, and an impressive 2.62 points per dollar on non-bonus spending.
If you already have high-value accounts with Bank of America, then getting this card is a no-brainer. If not, establishing a new banking relationship — like The Points Guy, Brian Kelly, did — may be a profitable move.
Best Bank of America airline credit cards
Annual fee: $75.
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus miles and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.
Earning rate: 3x on eligible Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x on other purchases.
Why you should apply: Alaska miles open up some exciting redemption options. TPG values Alaska miles at 1.8 cents each thanks to an incredible partner award chart, making the sign-up bonus worth $900. The card also comes with a companion fare, which will give your companion traveling on the same itinerary a free coach ticket on Alaska-operated flights from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22), among other perks like discounts on inflight purchases and lounge passes. Alaska miles are even more valuable now that Alaska has joined Oneworld and American Airlines and Alaska have launched reciprocal mileage earning.
Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard
Annual fee: $89.
Sign-up bonus: For a limited time, you can earn 50,000 miles and a $100 statement credit after you spend $2,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
Earning rate: 3x on Air France, KLM and purchases with SkyTeam member airlines, and 1.5x on everything else.
Why you should apply: Earning Flying Blue miles isn’t difficult with the multiple airlines which are part of the program (plus credit cards and other airlines as transfer partners), but this card can help you top off your account. If you fly with airlines that earn Flying Blue miles frequently, it’s worth taking a look at this card to help you boost your miles balance.
Annual fee: $79, waived the first year.
Sign-up bonus: 40,000 bonus points plus a $100 Companion Flight Voucher after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
Earning rate: 3x on eligible Spirit purchases, 2x on eligible dining and grocery store purchases, and 1x on all other purchases.
Why you should apply: Spirit is an ultra-low-cost carrier with a no-frills approach to flying. While it won’t be winning any TPG awards for the best premium flight experiences, budget travelers can take advantage of its low prices on both cash and award flights (redemptions start at only 2,500 miles with Spirit’s revamp of its loyalty program, Free Spirit). This card offers a solid way to rack up miles for this airline and an easy-to-hit welcome bonus.
Best Bank of America business credit cards
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Earning rate: 3% cash back in the business category of your choice and 2% on dining (on the first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year, then 1%), and 1% on all other purchases.
Why you should apply: Just like the personal version of this card, the Bank of America Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard allows you customize your rewards structure to fit your needs. The available 3% bonus categories include gas stations, office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom and wireless services, computer services and business consulting services. For those with business credit cards who need the flexibility to switch the 3% cash-back category each month, this is a one-of-a-kind option.
Annual fee: $0.
Sign-up bonus: 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening — which can be redeemed for a $300 statement credit toward travel or dining-related purchases.
Earning rate: 3x on travel booked through Bank of America Travel Center and 1.5x on all other purchases.
Why you should apply: For a no-annual-fee card, it has quite a lucrative earning potential — especially if you tend to book travel through a third-party platform such as Expedia. If you also qualify for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program (more on that below), you could earn up to 25-75% more rewards, or an up to 3.75-5.25x rate on travel purchases. That earning rate beats the rates of plenty of top business credit cards on the market, and you don’t even have to pay an annual fee to take advantage of it.
How we chose the best Bank of America credit cards
After looking at Bank of America’s credit card lineup, we studied the cards’ pros and cons. We evaluated each card type and each card’s details. Bank of America cards can be broken down into three categories: Bank of America-branded cards, airline cards and business cards.
Bank of America’s branded cards are the issuer’s primary cards that can take advantage of the Preferred Rewards program. Airline cards are cobranded options for flyers loyal to certain airline programs. Business cards are similar to Bank of America’s consumer options but use a separate Preferred Rewards program.
When looking at each card within their respective categories, we evaluated the sign-up bonus, rewards, perks, redemption and annual fees before choosing which ones are worth looking at.
Bank of America application restrictions
Although not nearly as restrictive as Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule, Bank of America has its own system in place to limit the number of new accounts for which you can be approved, often referred to as the 2/3/4 rule. You can only be approved for:
- Two cards in a rolling two-month period.
- Three cards in a rolling 12-month period.
- Four cards in a rolling 24-month period.
Note that this doesn’t apply to business cards issued by Bank of America, and also doesn’t count cards issued to you by another bank. If you max out all five of your slots with Chase, you shouldn’t have a problem turning around and applying for an offer like the 50,000 miles and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees from $22) after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card.
However, there are reports of Bank of America adding restrictions to card application approvals that mirror Chase’s 5/24 rule. Although the exact threshold is unconfirmed, opening too many cards over the course of a year (across all issuers) could mean your Bank of America application is denied. Of course, you’re less likely to be denied if you have an existing customer relationship with the bank.
You should also know that you can’t be approved for a second version of the same card within 90 days of your first application, which means you can’t double-dip this elevated Alaska bonus to try and score a Cathay Pacific first-class award solely through sign-up bonuses.
Maximizing Bank of America Preferred Rewards
It’s no secret that Bank of America favors cardholders with whom it has banking relationships. This is less than ideal for anyone who keeps their money with other banks, but you can take advantage of a number of perks and benefits if you are a Bank of America customer who qualifies for the Preferred Rewards program. You can read all about the program here, but to qualify you’ll need:
- An eligible Bank of America personal checking account.
- A three-month average combined balance of $20,000 or more in a Bank of America account and/or Merrill investment accounts.
If you meet these requirements, your earning rates become significantly higher.
|Tier 1 – Gold ($20,000-$50,000)||Tier 2 – Platinum ($50,000-$100,000)||Tier 3 – Platinum Honors ($100,000-plus)|
|25% earning bonus||50% earning bonus||75% earning bonus|
If you qualify for Platinum Honors, you’ll be earning 3.5x on dining and travel, plus 2.62x on all other purchases with the Bank of America Premium Rewards card. A 2.62% return makes that card one of the best options for non-bonus everyday spending.
If you aren’t currently banking with Bank of America, it might be worth moving some money over, like The Points Guy himself did when the Premium Rewards card launched. TPG’s Richard Kerr has also said for a long time that Bank of America Preferred Rewards is not a program to be ignored. Fixed-value cards get a little more appealing every time an airline devalues its award chart or restricts premium-cabin redemptions, and when you combine the above-average earning rates with the fact that you get “paid” $5 a year to keep the Premium Rewards card open, it begins to look very appealing.
The good news for those who currently have Preferred Rewards status is that you don’t have to worry about maintaining your balance right now. Bank of America recently sent out email updates to Preferred Rewards members stating that they’ve temporarily suspended their annual program review process. This means anyone with status right now should continue to receive the same level of benefits, even if you drop below the minimum balance requirement. They are still allowing people to qualify for tiers, though.
Uncovering the value of Bank of America’s credit cards takes a little more work than with other issuers. But between high-value cash back on everyday spending and one of the only cobranded credit cards worth consistently spending on, there’s too much here to simply ignore. At the very least, everyone should take a hard look at the Premium Rewards card and Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card. You might find that one of these cards has a worthwhile place in your wallet.
For additional reading, check out our picks for the best credit cards.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon.
Featured photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy.
Updated on 09/27/21.