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Part of the fun of award travel is learning how to maximize your points and miles. You can get outsized value by booking through airline and hotel loyalty programs, but there’s something to be said for the simplicity of cash-back rewards. With that in mind, here are five reasons to add the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card to your wallet.

1. Diversify Your Rewards

Transferable points are the royalty of the award travel world, but a well-rounded portfolio should also include points or miles that function like cash. The Premium Rewards Card allows you to redeem points at a rate of 1 cent apiece as a statement credit toward any purchase. That gives you the flexibility to wipe away miscellaneous travel expenses like taxis, train tickets and parking fees that would otherwise be paid for out of pocket.

Of course, you can also use these points to cover conventional travel purchases like airfare, and hotels. When prices are high, you’ll be better off booking awards through airline and hotel loyalty programs. When prices are low, however, you may get better value from cash-back rewards. Having both options available will help you maximize your return for each redemption.

2. Redeem Valuable Travel Credits

The Premium Rewards card has a $95 annual fee, but you can more than offset that cost with the annual $100 Airline Incidental Statement Credit. While this credit can’t be used to purchase airfare, you can apply it to pay for a range of incidentals like baggage fees, in-flight entertainment and seat upgrades. The benefit is offered each calendar year, so you can likely get a total of $200 in credits during your first year as a cardmember.

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Use your annual airline credit to cover seat upgrades and other incidentals. Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines.

The card also offers a credit of up to $100 every four years to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. This might seem inconsequential if you’ve already enrolled in an expedited security program, or if you still have a similar credit available on another card. However, keep in mind that this benefit works for any Global Entry or PreCheck application; it doesn’t have to be your own. You can use your card to pay the fee for a friend or family member, and it will be reimbursed just the same.

3. Score a Large Sign-up Bonus

The Premium Rewards card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. With a base earning rate of 1.5 points per dollar, you’ll have at least 54,500 points after you meet the spending requirement — that’s worth $545 in statement credits. If some of your spending is on travel or dining, you’ll end up with a bit more, since you earn 2 points per dollar on those purchases.

You can find more lucrative bonuses among the current top travel rewards credit cards, but this is a strong offer for a cash-back product. Competitors like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card come with fewer or less flexible points, or both. Those cards also lack compelling perks (like the travel credit discussed above) that set the Premium Rewards card apart.

You can use your points to cover miscellaneous travel (or other) expenses. Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images.
The sign-up bonus is worth $500 toward travel (or other) expenses. Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images.

4. Get a Good Return on Everyday Spending

The standard earning rates on the Premium Rewards card are 1.5 points per dollar for most purchases, or 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining. Those numbers are unexceptional, and you’ll come out ahead (or at least even) by using a card that earns 2% cash back or one that earns more valuable rewards.

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 2.625 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 TPG did earlier this year) may be a profitable move.

5. Spread Out Your Applications

In terms of rewards credit cards, Bank of America has historically been overshadowed by Amex, Chase and Citi. Those three have a track record of offering supersized sign-up bonuses and high-end benefits, but they also limit how many accounts you can have and how often you can open new ones. Focusing too much on any single card issuer makes it harder to take advantage of future opportunities, so the Premium Rewards card is a good option if you’re looking to diversify your portfolio.

Consider secondary benefits like travel delay protection when you decide whether to cancel or downgrade a card.
The Premium Rewards card is a good way to establish rewards outside of Amex, Chase and Citi.

Unfortunately, your application will still count against you when it comes to Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule, which pertains to the number of accounts you’ve opened across all card issuers. Bank of America has also recently started enforcing its own set of application restrictions, so you should wait to apply if you’ve already reached the limit (H/T: Doctor of Credit).

Bottom Line

The Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card doesn’t come with flashy travel perks like lounge access or elite status. Instead, it offers cash-back rewards that are flexible and easy to redeem, and the opportunity to earn a solid return on everyday spending. The sign-up bonus provides a lot of extra value up front, and the card effectively pays for itself through the annual airline credit. If you’re looking to earn points outside of airline and hotel loyalty programs, this card is a good place to start.

For more information on the card, check out the following posts:

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card

This brand new 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
17.24% - 24.24% 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 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.