About Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card
The Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card is the newest major credit card offering from Bank of America.
According to a press release from Bank of America, the Premium Rewards card was created to “give customers flexibility to use their rewards points in the way that best suits their life priorities.”
While Bank of America brands the card as a “premium” card we see it more as a mix between a cash back and travel card with an annual fee.
Exactly what all that means is what we’ll get to in this review; sometimes working through the facts of a credit card helps you understand much more than the marketing surrounding the card.
So, to help you get to the point where you feel like you have a thorough understanding of the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card, we’re going to walk you through three of the card’s main characteristics: rewards, benefits and rates/fees.
Each of these sections will look at the card’s facts, figures, and the fine print, too.
After we give you the key information in these areas, we’ll continue to a section about what others are saying in regards to the Premium Awards card: Do they think it’s awesome, awful or somewhere in between?
We’ll finish up our review with our research-based conclusions about the card’s pros, cons and who we think is a good fit for the Premium Rewards.
The Bank of America Premium Rewards Card’s Rewards
When we talk about credit card rewards, we’re referencing the free money, points or miles you get with the card as a result of your spending.
Now, as we mentioned earlier, the Premium Rewards card is, in our opinion, a hybrid of a travel rewards card and a cash back rewards card. Why? Well, that’s because the card has the rewards of a cash-back card and the benefits of a semi-premium travel rewards card.
50,000 Bonus Points
The first reward you get with the Premium Rewards card is a 50,000-point bonus if you can spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of owning the card.
What this means is that, if you can spend $3,000 in the 90 days following the day of your approval, Bank of America will deposit 50,000 bonus points to your rewards balance within 8-12 weeks of hitting the spending requirement.
One bonus point is worth $0.01, which means your 50,000 points have a cash value of $500. This up-front bonus is similar to what you’d get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.
2x Bonus on Travel and Dining
While the 50,000 points is a one-time reward, the Premium Rewards’ points bonuses on purchases are ongoing.
According to the terms and conditions of the card, you’ll earn 2x points on every travel and dining purchase you make, a bonus structure that’s the same as what you’d get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
One of the keys to understanding the full value of a travel or dining bonus is to know what counts as “travel” and “dining”. To figure that out, we went into the Bank of America Premium Rewards card’s fine print and dug out the details nearly word-for-word:
Travel purchases include: airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, trailer parks, limousines, ferries, boat rentals, parking lots, garages, tolls, bridge fees, art galleries, amusement parks, carnivals aquariums, zoos
Dining purchases include: restaurants, fast food, bars, taverns
Exactly which purchases constitute travel and dining come down to something called a merchant code, which is how a business identify itself to credit card networks.
In most cases, your travel and dining purchases should get the 2x bonus, but there will be situations where a company doesn’t code itself as travel or dining and you won’t get your 2x. bonus. But, that’s okay, because the regular cash-back rate is hefty 1.5x.
1.5x Bonus on Everything Else
If a purchase doesn’t fall into the travel or dining categories, then it will earn a 1.5x bonus on every dollar you spend.
The exceptions to this bonus include any fees Bank of America levies on your Premium Rewards card as well as some cash-related things like traveler’s checks, casino currency, and a few other random things.
How Many Points Can You Earn in a Year?
So, here’s the deal with rewards cards. You can get all starry-eyed as much as you want over bonus rates and free up-front cash, but what you really need to do is know how many rewards points you can get every year based on your personal spending habits.
Since we don’t know exactly how much you spend on travel, dining and everything else, we’ll present some scenarios that are based on how the average America household spends their money via stats from ValuePenguin and the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Travel: $1,146 (2,292 points)
- Dining: $3,154 (6,308 points)
- Everything else: $20,700 (31,050 points)
- Total points: 39,560 points, or $396.50
As you can see, the average American spender can earn nearly $400 a year in cash back based on the 2x/1.5x points bonuses.
Compared to other cash back cards, the Bank of America Premium Rewards fares a little better than average, surging ahead of the Capital One Quicksilver and the Chase Freedom Unlimited ($375) and falling well behind the Citi Double Cash ($500).
Now, what makes the Premium Rewards card different than the cash back cards we mentioned is the 50,000 bonus points. You see, most cash-back cards will offer you a high rate and no bonus (Double Cash) or an average rate with a $150 bonus (Quicksilver, Freedom Unlimited).
The B of A Premium Card’s $500 in bonus points definitely sets it apart from its cash-back competitors, as does its travel-related benefits.
Bonuses for Depositing Rewards to a Bank of America Account
Since this card is a Bank of America card, customers of B of A are entitled to a 10% bonus if they deposit their rewards in a Bank of America checking or savings account. So, a $400 rewards balance is actually worth $440 to the bank’s customers.
This 10% bonus increases up if you at least $20,000 in your bank of America accounts:
- $20,000-49,999: 25% bonus
- $50,000-99,999: 50% bonus
- $100,000 or more: 75% bonus
These bonus structures are what can set this card apart from all other travel and cash back cards. Remember, though, this bonus program applies to all Bank of America rewards cards, not just the Premium Rewards.
The Bank of America Premium Rewards Card’s Benefits
As we mentioned earlier, rewards are things you can earn by spending money with your card – cash-back rates, up-front bonuses, etc.
Benefits are a little different, in that they’re something you get day-in and day-out that aren’t contingent on spending unless they’re travel-specific reimbursements for things you’d already by if you’re a traveler.
$100 Yearly Travel Reimbursement
The first main benefit you get with the Premium Rewards card is a yearly $100 reimbursement you can apply toward travel-related expenses.
While the reimbursement doesn’t count toward airline tickets, it can be applied to seat upgrades, airport lounge fees, baggage fees, as well as a few other areas.
Bank of America automatically applies the reimbursement to these purchases.
$100 Reimbursement for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
The PreCheck and Global Entry programs help U.S. travelers get expedited processing through airport security based on background checks conducted after you apply for the programs.
You only have to apply once every four years and the application costs $85 for PreCheck and $100 for Global Entry. Bank of America automatically credits the application fee to your account, as long as you use your Premium Rewards credit card to pay for the application fee.
Visa Signature Benefits Suite
The final main benefit of the Bank of America Premium Rewards is its participation in the Visa Signature program, which means you’re entitled to some significant travel- and purchase-related coverages should something go wrong.
For example, you’re entitled to an insurance payout if your luggage is lost or delayed on a flight you paid for with your card.
You’ll also get an insurance payout if the trip you booked with your Premium Rewards card was canceled, delayed or interrupted.
Along with this is complimentary collision damage waiver insurance whenever you use the card to rent a car.
Each one of these benefits has certain limitations and exclusions, as do a few other benefits in the program, all of which you can read in the Visa Signature benefits guide you’ll get when Bank of America sends you your Premium Rewards card.
A Quick Word About the Premium Rewards Card’s Value
If you combine the up-front bonus ($500), the yearly spending bonuses ($396.50) and the travel reimbursements ($185-200), you’re looking at a first-year total of $1,081.50-1,096.50.
The Bank of American Premium Rewards Card’s Rates and Fees
The one thing that can cut a disastrous gash in your Premium Rewards card’s cash bonuses is the card’s rates and fees, which are listed here:
- Purchase and balance transfer APR: 16.99-23.99%
- Cash advance APR: 19.99-25.99%
- Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%
- Balance transfer/cash advance fee: 3%
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Annual fee: $95
- Late payment fee: Up to $38
- Returned payment fee: Up to $27
We’d like to point out two things: penalty APR and annual fee.
The penalty APR is the biggest concern because it will kick in the moment you make a late payment and will stay on your account forever. So, even if you make a late payment just once, all future balances that aren’t paid off in full every month will get hit with up to a 29.99% interest rate.
To give you an idea of what this what cost you, let’s assume you carry, on average, a $3,000 balance on your card. At 29.99%, that balance will cost you $899.70 a year in interest payments.
Second, the card comes with a $95 annual fee, which makes it an anomaly among cash back cards (aside from the Regions Bank Premium Visa Signature). This is the part of the card that most reflects a travel card since many of the best travel and airline rewards cards carry an annual fee between $75 and $100.
What Other Experts Are Saying About the Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa
At the time of publishing, there were very few expert reviews of the Premium Rewards card aside from our own breakdown of the card.
The one site we did see, ValuePenguin, gave the card high scores and called it a “fantastic” travel rewards card.
We’d say that description is accurate if you’re entitled to 25-75% redemption bonuses, but, for the average consumer who doesn’t travel much, we’d say there are better cards out there.
For example, the Premium Rewards card has a $95 annual fee that pretty much cancels out the $100/year reimbursement for airline incidentals.
You get $100 toward your Global Entry application, but that application is good for four years. So, your reimbursement averages out to about $25 a year.
What you’re left with is a cash rewards card that has a hefty sign-up bonus. If you only plan on using the card for a year, then, sure, it’s a great value. But if you want to hold onto it for the long-term, the value diminishes because of the annual fee and the penalty APR.
Pros of the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card
The card’s biggest perks are its 50,000-point sign-up bonus, the travel reimbursements and the 1.5x bonus on purchases.
This trio of rewards is rare among travel rewards cards.
Cons of the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card
We’d say the biggest drawback to this card is its penalty APR. None of the best travel rewards credit cards have a penalty APR; it’s a feature most often seen in cash-back cards (Bank of America Cash Rewards, Citi Double Cash, American Express Blue Cash Preferred).
It seems Bank of America has chosen to apply the good and bad of cash rewards cards to the Premium Rewards. You get the 1.5x cash-back rate, but you also get the penalty APR.
Who This Card Is Good For
Based on our research, we’d say this card is best for Bank of America customers who travel often and can take advantage of the Premium Rewards card’s travel/dining bonus and annual $100 incidentals reimbursement.
Those who can qualify for Bank of America’s increased cash-back bonuses of 25%, 50%, and 75% will enjoy this card even more.