Executive Summary -
In perhaps the most competitive segment of the card market (ie the no annual fee rewards sector), BOA has added a couple of interesting features, namely, the ability to earn 1.5X points on all spending and have also done away with foreign transaction fees. Is this enough? We'll find out by the end of the review.
If you have been reading our reviews of rewards cards (particularly the ones with no annual fee), you know that we feel that this is the most competitive space. So when Bank of America decided to upgrade their travel cards portfolio, they would know that they must step up their game or risk being just another card in this competitive landscape. And stepped up they did. Here's what this card is all about.
- Most rewards cards (the no annual fee version anyway) typically allow you to earn only 1X point per dollar. Some cards offer a little extra by allowing double points on certain expenses. But BankAmericard has stepped up and card members can earn 1.5X points per dollar for every type of purchase. This is the highest among it's competition. You can also earn unlimited points.
You can book your travel with anyone. All you have to do is to inform BOA and you will be given a statement credit. You could also redeem your points for other rewards on the WorldPoints catalog like gift cards and merchandise. However, redeeming your points for things other than travel will not yield you 1% (but instead less).
How Much Are The Points Worth?
- Another things that sets the BOA reward program apart is the way you can redeem your points for travel. The reward program for BOA's rewards cards is their WorldPoints program. And there are two ways to redeem your points for travel. The first way is to redeem a fixed number of points for travel to a certain region. For example, with WorldPoints, you can use 25,000 for a roundtrip within the US (for up to $400 in ticket value). This method of redeeming points used to be popular back in the old days when most reward programs worked this way. But today, only a couple of programs still work this way. If you want to go to Canada, Mexico or Panama, then you need 35,000 points and you can get a ticket with those points of up to $600. Below is a chart showing the number of points required and the destinations. The beauty of such a system is that the points can be worth more than 1% depending on the value of ticket (if it is on the upper end of the range).
However, there are a few restrictions if you choose to use your points this way. Firstly, there is the 21 day advance booking you have to make. Furthermore, you must include a Saturday stay.
The other way to use WorldPoints for travel is similar to other credit card programs. That means you can book your travel and use points in a simple manner to offset the cost. WorldPoints calls this Flex Air system. 100 points will get you $1 in travel value.
So depending on how you redeem your points and the cost of your travel, you may get either 1% or perhaps more than that (or even less) for the value of your points. That should not detract from the fact that you do earn 1.5X points per dollar spent on your card.
How Does This Card Compare With It's Peers?
- Since this space is so competitive (rewards), we will have to explore how this card stacks up against others. There are two aspects to work on. The first is to see how it compares on the points earning front. From this perspective, it is the highest point earning card (in the no annual fee space) and only the Capital One VentureOne Rewards matches it (1.5X points).
The other aspect that we have to look at is the redemption value of this card. In this aspect, this card (and in particular the WorldPoints program) offers slightly more value than a typical credit card reward program when it comes to travel. For most programs, 100 points gets you $1 in travel value. And for the WorldPoints program (which applies to this card), this is the case as well. But if you are willing to subject yourself to a couple of restrictions, you can get more than 1% value for your points (as seen in the above table). The only other card that has such a feature is the US Bank FlexPoints Travel Card. But this card beats it in terms of earning points (1.5X).
Is the Bank Americard Travel Rewards A Good Card?
If you read enough credit card or frequent flier blogs, you will hear many mentions about cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred and Starwood Preferred Guest as great cards for travel rewards. It is very rare that you hear recommendations for reward cards with credit card programs like this one. However, not all folks are true frequent fliers and not many are willing to pay an annual fee for a credit card. For such folks, this card provides a great alternative to more well known annual fee cards. And in this space, this card trumps other cards in the ability to earn 1.5 Points. Only Capital One's VentureOne Rewards matches it. But is also provides the opportunity to get slightly more than 1% value in the points depending on how you redeem it. And it also has no foreign transaction fees.
The card that comes closest to this one is the VentureOne Rewards from Cap One. And to be honest, they are both very good cards and I would not hesitate at all in recommending this card if you are looking for a no annual fee travel rewards card. But before you apply for it, I would also urge you to compare this to annual cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards and the Barclays Arrival Card (both of which allows you to earn 2X points). And the reason is that if you spend more than $12,000 on the card, you will find it more beneficial to get these annual fee alternatives because you can earn more points.