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Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Bank of America Travel Rewards — which should beginner travelers get?

Oct. 02, 2022
8 min read
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If you’re jumping into the travel rewards game, it can be overwhelming to pick which credit card to get started with. There are a lot of competitive options, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

In this guide, I will walk through two popular beginner travel credit cards — the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. Both offer an entry point into earning travel rewards, but which is best for your wallet?

Card comparison overview

Before we dive deeper into how these cards stack up against each other, let’s run through a quick overview of each card’s details.

Perk/benefitChase Sapphire Preferred CardBank of America Travel Rewards
Sign-up bonus60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.25,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.
Annual fee$95.$0.
Earning rates5 points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

5 points per dollar on Lyft rides through March 31, 2025.

3 points per dollar on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.

3 points per dollar on select streaming services.

3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).

2 points per dollar on all other travel.

1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

1.5 points per dollar on every purchase.
*Point value2 cents each.1 cent each.

*Point value is based on TPG calculations and is not provided or reviewed by the issuer.

Sign-up bonus

The Chase Sapphire Preferred clearly has a superior bonus in terms of value. You’ll receive 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, which is worth up to $1,200 according to TPG valuations.

By comparison, you’ll only get 25,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening (a $250 value) from the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card.

However, something to keep in mind here is the spending requirements. While you have to spend $4,000 in the first three months to earn the Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus, you’ll only need to spend $1,000 in the first 90 days with the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card.

At the end of the day, the value of the bonus doesn’t matter if you can’t reasonably hit the spending requirements. For those with smaller budgets, the Bank of America Travel Rewards sign-up bonus might be the more attainable (and therefore more beneficial) option — though be sure to check out our guide on reaching minimum spending thresholds for tips on how to hit a higher requirement.

GETTY

Earning

Once again, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes out ahead in the earning department. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar on dining and 2 points per dollar on travel purchases, plus 5 points per dollar on Lyft purchases through March 2025.

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On the other hand, the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card earns 1.5 points per dollar across all purchases. However, preferred cardholders can boost this earning rate significantly. If you are an existing Bank of America customer with enough money stashed away with the bank to qualify for the Preferred Rewards program, you can earn anywhere from 1.87 points per dollar to 2.62 points per dollar on all purchases.

Those who are Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards members (meaning you’ll earn 2.62 points per dollar on all purchases) might end up getting more value from earning this higher flat rate across all purchases in the long term.

Redeeming

Another major difference between the two cards is the redemption options. The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card earns fixed-value points, which essentially operate like cash back on eligible purchases. You can redeem your Bank of America Travel Rewards points at a value of 1 cent apiece as a statement credit to cover flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers a lot of flexibility in its redemption options. You can redeem your points at a 25% bonus for travel when you book through the Chase travel portal, but you can also transfer points at a 1:1 rate to one of Chase’s valuable transfer partners. At a minimum, you can get a 1.25-cent value from your points through the Chase portal, but transferring to the right partner could get you even more value.

While there’s something to be said about the simplicity of Bank of America’s redemption process, Chase still takes the cake with more potential value and flexibility.

Benefits

ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES

Neither of these cards is a premium travel card, which means they offer comparatively little in terms of additional benefits.

That said, the Chase Sapphire Preferred stands ahead in this category, as it does offer cardholders at least one complimentary year of DashPass service, which gives you $0 delivery fees and reduced service fees on eligible DoorDash food delivery and takeout purchases (must activate by Dec. 31, 2024).

You’ll also get a $50 annual hotel statement credit for reservations booked through the Chase travel portal, plus a solid lineup of credit card protections, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary car rental coverage, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance services, purchase protection and extended warranty protection.

On the other hand, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is much more limited, though — like the Sapphire Preferred — it is a Visa Signature card, so that will provide some benefits.

Which is better for you?

On paper, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is certainly the more valuable credit card. It comes with a higher sign-up bonus, a more robust earning rate (unless you are one of the few who have over $100,000 in eligible Bank of America banking or investment accounts to qualify for Platinum Honors Preferred Rewards status), more value and flexibility in redemption options and more travel protections.

THE POINTS GUY

However, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s the better card for you.

For starters, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a $95 annual fee. While many will be able to easily offset that cost with the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s earning rates and other benefits, beginners with small budgets may want to start with a no-annual-fee credit card like the Bank of America Travel Rewards card.

Something else to consider is that the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is great for beginners who do not want to worry about maximizing redemption options or varied bonus categories. You’re earning a flat rewards rate across every purchase, no matter what. And then, those rewards can be redeemed at a fixed rate as a statement credit. It’s simple and easy, which may appeal to beginners who feel overwhelmed at the idea of transfer partners and travel portal redemptions.

Bottom line

While both may be considered starter travel credit cards, each appeals to a different audience. For those who hope to build a robust travel credit card strategy and learn about how to maximize transfer partners and card pairings, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starting place.

But if the thought of navigating transferring points to a specific airline and juggling different bonus categories and temporary perks makes you break out into hives, the simplicity of the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card makes it an excellent choice.

At the end of the day, it’s all about deciding which type of travel credit card meets your specific wants and needs.

Apply here: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Apply here: Bank of America Travel Rewards

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox.

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

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

Fair/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees