The best Bank of America credit cards of 2020
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Bank of America is often overshadowed by credit card issuers like Chase, Amex, Citi and Capital One because it doesn’t have a single cohesive points currency with transfer partners like the other major players. However, that doesn’t mean that its cards should be overlooked.
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The issuer 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. Today, we’ll take a deep dive through the Bank of America portfolio to make sure you know everything you need to earn and burn (and get approved) like a pro.
Best Bank of America credit cards:
- Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card: Best for flexible earning structure
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Best for flat-rate travel rewards
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Best for travel insurance
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card: Best for earning Alaskan miles
- Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard: Best for Flying Blue flyers
- Spirit Airlines World Mastercard: Best for low-budget travelers
- Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card: Best for flexible business bonus categories
- Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit ard: Best for everyday business expenses
Comparing the best Bank of America credit cards
|Card:||Best for:||Welcome bonus:||Annual fee:|
|Bank of America 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||$0|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card||Travel insurance||50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening||$95|
|Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card||Earning Alaskan miles||40,000 miles, plus $100 statement credit 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||$75|
|Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard||Flying Blue flyers||Limited time offer: $100 statement credit plus 25,000 miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening||$89|
|Spirit Airlines World Mastercard||Low-budget travelers||15,000 miles after your first purchase, plus an additional 15,000 miles after you spend $1,000 within 90 days of account opening||$59, waived the first year|
|Bank of America® Business Advantage 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||$0|
The information for the Bank of America 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/furnishings); 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (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 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 shift their spending habits away from gas and travel to online shopping and takeout. This card will give you the freedom to change your rewards for the next few months to maximize your spending, and then revert back to other spending categories once you are traveling and going to work again.
Related reading: Credit cards we’re using most during the pandemic
Annual fee: $0
Sign-up bonus: 25,000 points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Earning rate: 1.5x points 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. And now through Dec. 31, 2020, cardholders can also use those points to redeem for grocery, dining, and takeout.
Although this certainly isn’t the most lucrative or flexible rewards card, it is perfect for low-budget beginner travelers who want a simple way to earn and redeem points.
The information for the Capital One Venture card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Annual fee: $95
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Earning rate: 2x points on travel and dining, 1.5x points on all other purchases
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 credit and an up to $100 credit (every four years) that can be applied toward the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment fee. Select cardholders may have also received an email for a $50 statement credit to offset dining and grocery purchases through Dec. 31, 2020.
It also comes with travel insurance protections including trip delay/cancellation/interruption insurance, baggage delay/loss insurance, emergency evacuation, transportation and travel and emergency assistance services and rental car insurance — perks that normally come with more premium cards. The BoA 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 BoA or Merrill account. Plus, the fact that you earn 1.5x on non-bonus spending means this is a good card for everyday purchases.
Best Bank of America airline credit cards
Annual fee: $75
Sign-up bonus: 40,000 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 miles on eligible Alaska Airlines 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 40,000-mile bonus worth $720. 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 from $22), among other perks like discounts on inflight purchases and lounge passes. Alaska miles are even more valuable now that Alaska is joining Oneworld and American 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 25,000 miles and a $100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening
Earning rate: 3x miles on Air France, KLM and purchases with SkyTeam member airlines
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. The bonus isn’t crazy, but it’s easy to hit and 25,000 miles is still $300 according to our valuations. 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: $59, waived the first year
Welcome bonus: 15,000 miles after your first purchase, plus an additional 15,000 miles after you spend $500 within 90 days of account opening
Earning rate: 2x miles on every purchase
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). 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
Welcome 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 (first $50,000 in combined choice category/dining purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter)
Why you should apply: Just like the personal version of this card, the Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard lets 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
Welcome bonus: 30,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Earning rate: 3x points on travel booked through Bank of America Travel Center, and 1.5x points on all 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 like Expedia. If you also use Bank of America for your business banking needs, you could earn up to 4.12x 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 BofA, 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 40,000-mile bonus after you spend $2,000 or more on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card.
However, there are recent reports of Bank of America adding new 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 BoA 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 and a 3-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+)|
|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 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 place in your wallet.
Featured photo by by John Gribben for The Points Guy
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.