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Another new premium travel card just hit the market — but is it any good?

Dec. 09, 2021
9 min read
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2021 has been a notable year for new and revamped premium rewards cards, from launches of products from established players, such as the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, to a full refresh of The Platinum Card® from American Express with the addition of several novel benefits.

Now, another issuer is joining that group with its latest product: The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Elite credit card.

With an annual fee of $550, the card is targeted at Bank of America's high- and ultra-high-net-worth clients. But it's not exclusive to that customer base, and you do not need to have a relationship with the bank to apply.

At first glance, the new card seems like a souped-up version of the longstanding Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. For some, however, the new card might be worthwhile to consider instead. From its lifestyle credits to its all-metal design, here's what you need to know about the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Elite credit card.

The information for the Bank of America Premium Rewards Elite credit 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.

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Overview

This is Bank of America's first entrant into the world of premium credit cards. The card doesn't come cheap, at $550 per year, but it does have some upscale perks to compensate.

Who this card is for

The "Elite" designation on the Premium Reward Elite card signifies a high-end product, one that is positioned around Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program (more on this below), since customers who participate in the program can boost their potential earnings. This card, therefore, is more about having a cohesive ecosystem of financial products as opposed to constructing a mass-market, standalone credit card.

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While banking clients — especially those with a higher net worth — will likely benefit the most, the card is open to the general public. In a crowded field of premium cards, however, Bank of America's offering isn't going to be for everyone.

A caveat

Before looking at benefits, there's one thing you should know. Unlike transferable points products from Chase, Amex, Capital One or Citi, you cannot convert your Bank of America points into any airline frequent-flyer miles or hotel loyalty program points. This isn't a new limitation, but one that is particularly evident in a product that charges a high annual fee.

Nevertheless, let's dig into the benefits and see who this card can make sense for, especially among those who prefer the simplicity of a fixed-value rewards program.

Benefits

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Most rewards cards with high annual fees offer perks that help offset some (or all) of that yearly cost. The Premium Rewards Elite card is no different, with the following notable benefits:

Statement credits

  • Up to $300 annually in airline incidental statement credits.
  • This includes purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees, and airline lounge fees but not airfare.
  • Up to $150 annually in statement credits for lifestyle conveniences.
  • This includes streaming services, food delivery, fitness subscriptions and ride-hailing services.
  • Up to $100 in statement credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees (once every four years).

Earning rates

  • 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1.5 points per dollar on all other purchases
  • Preferred Rewards members earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. This means clients could earn up to 3.5 points on travel and dining purchases, and up to 2.625 points on all other purchases, for every dollar they spend.

Redemption

  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, a statement credit, experiences or gift cards at 1 cent apiece.
  • 20% savings on airfare for any class when paying with points through the Bank of America Travel Center or concierge. This brings your per-point value for these redemptions to 1.2 cents.

Other perks

  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership.
  • Private flying with NetJets: Purchase or redeem points for flight time and complimentary upgrades.
  • Complimentary 24/7 full-service concierge.
  • Visa Infinite card benefits, including the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Sign-up bonus

You'll receive 50,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. These points have a fixed value of 1 cent each, meaning that this bonus is worth $500.

However, thanks to 20% savings on airfare when paying with points through the Bank of America Travel Center, your bonus points can be worth up to $600. This is far from the most lucrative bonus out there, but $600 can go a decent way towards airfare.

The differentiator: Bank of America Preferred Rewards

(Photo by Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock)

The real differentiator is with Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program. Essentially, if you have enough assets with Bank of America, you're rewarded for using one of the bank's credit cards. To qualify for the program, you must have both of the following:

  • An active, eligible Bank of America checking account.
  • A three-month combined average daily balance of $20,000 or more in qualifying Bank of America deposit accounts and/or Merrill investment accounts.

There are now five tiers of Preferred Rewards (up from three), which you qualify for based on your combined average daily balance. They are organized like this:

  • Gold: $20,000 or more in total assets.
  • Platinum: $50,000 or more in total assets.
  • Platinum Honors: $100,000 or more in total assets.
  • (NEW) Diamond: $1 million or more in total assets.
  • (NEW) Diamond Honors: $10 million or more in total assets.

Preferred Rewards members earn a 25%, 50% or 75% rewards bonus on select Bank of America cards, including this new Premium Rewards Elite card.

Spend categoriesRegular cardholderPreferred Rewards Gold (25% bonus)Preferred Rewards Platinum tier (50% bonus)Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors, Diamond or Diamond honors tier (75% bonus)
Travel and dining2x points2.5x points3x points3.5x points
Everything else1.5x points1.875x points2.25x points2.625x points

Compared to the Premium Rewards credit card

First, let's point out the obvious — and probably most disappointing — aspect of this card. It's essentially a slightly enhanced version of the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card.

How it's similar

The rewards card without the "elite" designation has a $95-per-year annual fee and earns a similar 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, along with 1.5 points per dollar on everything else. It similarly qualifies for the Preferred Rewards bonuses for customers that do their banking business with Bank of America. It carries an up-to $100 airline incidental statement credit and comes with the same Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit as the elite version.

How it's different

The primary difference between the two cards is the annual statement credits offered by the Bank of America Premium Rewards Elite credit card (but not the Bank of America Premium Rewards card) — up to $300 in airline incidental credit and up to $150 in lifestyle credit. In addition, the "elite" Bank of America card has a Priority Pass benefit and the 20% rebate when redeeming points for airfare through the issuer's travel portal. It also offers some more comprehensive Visa Infinite travel protections and a snazzier all-metal design.

However, the new elite card doesn't distinguish itself in other ways that make it a notable standalone product, especially when considering it within the context of Bank of America's overall card lineup. I can't help but notice the lack of originality — not just in the card's name but also in its overall benefits.

How to apply

For now, the Premium Rewards Elite card is only available at Bank of America branches, through its call center and via the bank's wealth management advisor channels. You won't be able to apply for the card online until the end of February 2022.

Bottom line

Bank of America isn't going for mass-market appeal with its first sally into the world of premium travel cards.

Instead, the Bank of America Premium Rewards Elite card seems to target existing or incoming Preferred Rewards program clients by offering them a higher-priced product within the Bank of America ecosystem. It's a card that will likely remain a niche player, especially considering applications remain limited to offline channels until early next year and the fact that Bank of America does not have airline or hotel transfer partners. With that said, it's still a solid card for those that bank with Bank of America who can take advantage of its annual statement credits.

Featured image by (Photo by The Points Guy)
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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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 featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/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

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees