The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is an excellent option for travelers who like to scour the internet for the best deals without sacrificing the ability to use rewards for purchases. It's an extremely versatile card, but it does have some limitations when compared to cards with potentially higher reward values.

Why getting this card is beneficial for your finances

The Bank of America travel card is a terrific option if you're a cardholder who is always seeking for a good sign-up bonus on a card with no annual fee. A set rate of rewards is given to all purchases, allowing you to buy whenever and wherever you choose and still earn a reasonable amount.

If you have a Merrill Lynch or Bank of America account, you can earn a higher points rate with Preferred Rewards, which is a unique feature of this card.

Excellent signup bonus

For those who spend $1,000 in the first 90 days, the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card offers a respectable 25,000 online points sign-up bonus. These points can be worth up to $250 if you use them to pay for a trip.

Bank of America Preferred Rewards program

It's possible that you might increase your earnings on the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card if you already have an account with Bank of America or Merrill Lynch. The more money you have, the more likely this is.

Depending on how much money you have in your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account at any given time, the interest rate you receive from Bank of America rises incrementally. Platinum Honors, the highest tier of Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program, offers a 75 percent point boost with an improved earning rate of 2.6 percent (up from the regular 1.5 percent per dollar spent).

One rewards rate for all purchases

All transactions with the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card earn at the same rate, so tracking bonus categories or concentrating your spending in one area isn't necessary. Every dollar spent by cardholders earns them 1.5 points. It's worth three points per dollar if you make your purchase at the Bank of America Travel Center, where you'll get an extra 1.5 points.

Intro APR for new purchases

A 0% introductory APR for the first 15 billing cycles of the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is another perk for new customers (15.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable thereafter).

If you're planning on making a large purchase and don't want to rack up interest, this is a nice bonus. You won't have to worry about further charges for a little more than a year if you make slow payments. To avoid a high recurring annual percentage rate (APR), don't charge more than you can afford to pay back in the introductory term.

Flexible point redemptions

It doesn't matter if you book your trip through Bank of America Travel Rewards or another site — unlike other travel credit cards that give you bonus points for certain purchases. The versatility of the card, though, means that you don't have to think so hard about how to utilize those points.

To redeem points, you must have used your card for a trip transaction within the last year. This means you can use your rewards to pay for a cheaper flight on a third-party travel site. You can also exchange your points for gift cards, cash, or a statement credit that can be used to pay for dining out.

In some cases, you may need to redeem your points before they expire and the value of these options varies greatly.

Additional benefits

Despite its lack of broad incentives, the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card has a few advantages that make it worthwhile for regular flyers.

  • You won't be charged a fee while making purchases in another country if you use your credit card at a participating location.
  • Your Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card offers additional coverage in the event that your rental automobile is damaged or stolen.
  • In order to use the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card while traveling outside the United States, you can add a PIN.
  • It's hardly the most stunning travel feature on a rewards card, but frequent fliers can still save money by taking advantage of all of these benefits.

Why this card may not be a good fit for you

Consider a more complex card strategy that takes advantage of higher earning cards if you are familiar with rewards programs, know which categories you spend your money on, and can plan accordingly to use different cards for every purchase. There are better offers out there, but 1.5 points per dollar isn't one of them.

However, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card has a few flaws that cause it to be relegated to the bottom of the top travel rewards cards list.

No travel redemption bonus

Competition for a travel rewards credit card comes in the form of the ability to redeem points through an issuer's travel portal. Points redeemed through the Bank of America Travel Center will not receive an increase in value like some other issuers' credit cards. As a result, the Bank of America credit card is now at the bottom of the list.

Travel center purchases get double points, however redeeming those points for travel does not raise the value of those points. In other words, you'll be spending more money to get more value out of your rewards, yet with another card you could be spending less money to get more value out of your rewards.

When redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Portal, points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card have a value of 25 percent higher, valuing them at 1.25 cents apiece.

While Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card points have a maximum value of one cent each, the value of competing travel credit cards generally exceeds this. Keep in mind the point value when comparing to another card because, like Chase, other issuers have enhanced the worth of the points.

Here's a short look at some of our most popular travel credit cards and how much value you receive for your money when you use them (factoring in average earning rate and point value).

Low rewards rate

In spite of the fact that you'll get 1.5 points for every dollar spent, which is convenient and can be increased with a Bank of America or Merrill account, for the ordinary cardholder searching for a good travel rewards card, it's a little low. It's hard to beat other cards' 3 points per dollar spent on travel when you consider how little you'll get back upon redeeming your rewards.

Use a general purpose credit card that earns at a higher rate and link it with a travel credit card from the same issuer if you want to move into travel rewards and soar higher. You may be able to redeem your points through that issuer's reward portal if you have a lot of them.

For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card (1 percent when you buy, 1 percent when you pay) and the Citi Premier® Card could be a better match. Depending on how much you spend, the annual cost for the Premier Card may be offset by the fact that you will earn more points than you would with the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card.

How to use this card to your benefit

  • To qualify for the sign-up bonus, you must spend at least $1,000 in the first 90 days of your account.
  • Take advantage of a significant flat rewards rate by charging all of your purchases to the card.
  • Earn two times as many points when you book your trip via the Bank of America Travel center.
  • Sign up for Preferred Rewards if you're qualified to increase your earnings.

Bottom Line

Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card gives an excellent rate of points for a card with no annual fee if you choose to put all of your purchases on one card and not keep track of bonus categories. Bank of America account customers with a large balance can increase their rewards rate and speed up their path to a vacation.

When it comes to maximizing your rewards, you may want to take a more strategic approach if you're curious about the world of rewards earning and want to get the most out of every dollar you spend. As a result, the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is a great choice for those who are new to rewards credit cards or who are unsure about their capacity to pay the annual fees associated with other, more advantageous credit cards.