Bank of America offers 4 main credit cards in the general consumer credit card market. Below we rank & review these cards, plus offer a few words about special cards like those for students or those with bad credit/no credit.
Bank of America Cash Rewards Visa – While we rank this Bank of America credit card first, it’s not by much, and we overall think this card is only OK when compared to other cash back credit cards. You’ll get 3% cash back on your gas purchases with this card, 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% back on everything else. Note that there is a cap on the earnings in the categories above 1% — if you hit $2500 in combined gas/grocery store/wholesale club purchases in a calendar quarter, any further purchases in those categories would earn 1%. The $2500 threshold is pretty high, so you probably won’t hit it, but it’s worth noting. You can earn a $200 bonus if you use the card for at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days after you are approved. No annual fee. You also get a 0% interest rate on new card purchases for the first 12 months, and a 0% rate on any transferred balances from other cards for 12 months. However, note that balance transfers incur a one-time fee of 3% of the amount transferred. As mentioned earlier, this is an OK cash back card, but not the best.
BankAmericard – This MasterCard is a no-frills, no rewards credit card that offers a slightly lower interest rate than Bank of America’s reward credit cards. Maybe most important, it offers a very attractive 0% introductory offer. You’ll get a 0% interest rate on your new purchases with the card for 15 billing cycles, plus you can transfer a balance from another credit card to this one and have that balance sit at a 0% rate for 15 billing cycles, too. Even better, if you transfer a balance within 60 days of getting the card, there is no balance transfer fee, a rarity in today’s credit card market. (Most cards charge a fee of 3% of the amount you transfer.) No annual fee for this card, and an interest rate anywhere from 14.99% to 24.99% depending on your credit history.
Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa – This travel rewards card is another card that earns points instead of actual miles, with each point worth a penny when you redeem. On the upside, these points are flexible, meaning you can redeem them toward travel purchases or simply take them as cash back or gift cards. It also offers some travel-specific perks, unlike some cards like the Travel Rewards Visa profiled below. The card has an annual fee of $95, but it does make up for this with greater points offerings and a nice bonus opportunity. Specifically, you get 2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases, and 1.5 points per dollar on all other purchases. (If it makes it easier to understand, you can think of those 2 points per dollar as 2% cash back and the 1.5 points as 1.5% cash back.) You can also earn a bonus of 50,000 points ($500 value) if you spend at least $3000 with this card in the first 90 days of having it. Travel perks also: up to $100 statement credit to offset flight incidentals like seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight services, and airline lounge fees, no foreign transaction fees, and up to $100 credit towards TSA Pre or Global Entry Application fee, every four years.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa – This travel card fits into a category that we’re not fond of. It offers points that translate into money you can use toward your travel purchases with the card. However, the points formula is no better than many cash back cards on the market while giving you less flexibility to redeem the rewards you’ve earned. Here’s how it works: you get 1.5 points per dollar charged to the card, with each point being worth a penny when redeemed against travel purchases you’ve made with the card. In other words, it is the same as a 1.5% cash back credit card but has more restrictions on how that reward can be used. Why not just get a better cash back card with a higher rebate and fewer restrictions? It’s not a bad card, it’s just that calling it a “travel” card is pure marketing, other than the fact the travel aspect is actually a restriction more than a positive feature, due to limiting your redemption to travel charges only. (Technically you can redeem for cash or other rewards but at a lower rate than the 1.5% for travel.) On the upside, there is no annual fee, and you can earn a 25,000-point bonus if you spend at least $1000 with the card in the first 90 days of having it. Also offers a 0% rate on new purchases with the card for the first 12 months, and no foreign transactions fees on purchases made outside of the United States.
Other specialty Bank of America cards:
- BankAmericard Secured Mastercard – This card is for people who do not have an established credit history or perhaps have a bad credit history. It can help you build or rebuild your credit score, but there’s a catch: you must put up a refundable security deposit in order to get the card. You deposit anywhere from $300 to $4900 into the account and then you get the credit card with a credit line equal to the amount you deposited. You can then use the card like any other credit card: you make purchases and pay them back every month. Note that payments do NOT come from your security deposit. That deposit is security for the bank in case you fail to pay, but your payments are not debited from it. (You can think of this card like an apartment that requires a security deposit. Your rent is not paid from the security deposit.) You will get the security deposit back when you no longer want or need the card (and provided you’ve paid off your complete balance). This card does have an annual $39 fee that is separate from the security deposit (you won’t get that $39 back). Interest rate of 22.24%, which is high, but not outrageous. If you use this card wisely, in time Bank of America may decide that your credit score has improved enough that they will return your deposit and let you continue to use the card as a “regular”, unsecured credit card.
- Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students – Essentially the same as the Cash Rewards card described above, but, since its targeted to students who have little to no credit history, it offers slightly higher interest rates.
- Bank of America Travel Rewards for Students – Essentially the same as the Travel Rewards card descibed above, but, again, with higher interest rates for most students.
- BankAmericard for Students – Almost exactly same as the BankAmericard mentioned above, including the balance transfer offer with no fee attached, but you’ll probably be approved at a higher interest rate as a college student.