The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is a solid selection if you’re looking for a travel rewards card with a low $95 annual fee. Additionally, this credit card offers decent rewards plus a number of attractive benefits.
Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card Review
The Premium Rewards credit card is a nice option that combines benefits and a reasonable annual fee of only $95. You might think of it as a mid-tier rewards card.
Travelers can easily take advantage of some key perks that more than make up for the cost. The $100 annual airline incidental statement alone offsets the annual fee, and additional perks like the TSA Pre✓® and Global Entry credit sweeten the offer.
But if you travel frequently, there are other cards that offer a more robust set of perks. Just be prepared to pay a larger annual fee if luxury travel cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, are more your speed.
New cardholders can take advantage of the opportunity to earn 50,000 bonus points. Those reward points add up to a sizable $500 value that you can redeem for cash rewards, travel or gift cards.
The card’s sign-up bonus is one of its most attractive features. It’s not the biggest credit card bonus you can find online, but it’s respectable in relation to the card’s low annual fee.
To qualify for the sign-up bonus, you need to make a minimum of $3,000 in purchases within the first 90 days from account opening. If you don’t spend an average of $1,000 per month on credit cards, you might want to wait until you need to make some large purchases before you apply.
Bank of America stipulates that the sign-up bonus is a one-time offer. It’s only available to new cardholders and not to those converting an existing credit card account.
Once you earn your bonus points, it may take between eight and twelve weeks before they post to your rewards balance.
When you open a Premium Rewards card, be prepared to pay the card’s $95 annual fee every year the account remains open. The fee is affordable compared with many other rewards credit cards. But, since it’s not a no-annual fee card, you should still make sure you’ll use the card’s benefits enough to offset the cost.
When you use your Premium Rewards credit card for purchases, you can earn unlimited points and later redeem them for cash rewards, travel or gift cards. The card issuer assigns points in one of two ways, based on the type of purchase you make.
- Travel and dining purchases earn unlimited 2 points for each dollar you spend.
- All other eligible purchases earn unlimited 1.5 points for each dollar you spend.
Plus, earn 2 points for every $1 spent on grocery store purchases through December 31, 2021.
If you purchase food or drinks (dine-in or takeout) at restaurants, fast food, bars or taverns, these transactions should qualify for the 2-points-per-dollar rewards rate. Travel purchases include purchases from airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines, toll operators, amusement parks and more.
Note: Some transactions will not earn you points. These may include balance transfers, cash advances and fraudulent transactions. You won’t earn points on the fees or interest you pay on your account either.
The Premium Rewards credit card offers several attractive benefits for a card with such a low annual fee.
Airline Incidental Statement Credit
Each year, you can qualify for a $100 statement credit for airline incidental fees. Travel purchases that are eligible for the credit include:
- Seat Upgrades
- Checked Baggage Fees
- In-Flight Entertainment
- Ticket Change or Cancellation Fees
- Onboard Drinks or Food
- Airport Lounge Fees (with Eligible Airline Carriers)
You can’t use the travel credit for ticket purchases, mileage or airline points purchases, gift cards, duty-free purchases, mileage point transfer fees, award tickets and any fees from airline alliance partners. Also, if you make travel purchases with Allegiant Air, Sprint Airlines or Sun Country Airlines, they won’t help you qualify for the credit.
If you do make a qualifying purchase, expect to wait between 2-3 weeks for your travel credit. So, be sure to pay your bill if it’s due before the credit hits your account to avoid any late payment fees or negative credit reporting.
Slick Tip: The airline incidental statement credit runs from calendar year to calendar year. Depending on when you open your account, you could potentially redeem two statement credits within a short period of time. This strategy can help you pack in more value on the front end when you open a new account.
TSA Pre✓®/Global Entry Statement Credit
Once every four years you’re eligible for an Airport Security Statement Credit on your account. It’s worth up to $100 for TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry fees. You must use your Premium Rewards card to pay for the application fees in order to receive the credit.
Expect eligible statement credits to take between 2-3 weeks to process. Be sure to keep up with any payments that come due before the credit hits your account.
Free FICO Score
As a primary cardholder, you can view a free copy of your FICO Score (assuming you have a credit score available to see).
Contactless Chip Technology
Use your security-chip enabled card to make a purchase with the convenience of a simple tap.
Preferred Rewards: Multiply Your Points
The standard rewards-earning potential on this card is decent, but not exciting. However, if you keep a sizable amount of funds in a Bank of America account or a Merrill investment account, the rewards rate increases. You become a Preferred Rewards member.
As a Preferred Rewards Member, you receive a credit card rewards bonus based on the balance of your Bank of America deposit and/or Merrill investment accounts. Here’s a look at the extra rewards you could potentially qualify to receive in the form of a Relationship Bonus.
|Gold Tier||Platinum Tier||Platinum Honors|
(three-month combined average daily balance)
|$20,000–$49,999||$50,000–$99,999||$100,000 and up|
|Rewards Bonus||Earn 25% more rewards||Earn 50% more rewards||Earn 75% more rewards|
The rewards potential for someone with a $100k+ balance in their Bank of America and/or Merrill investment accounts is huge. If you qualify for the Platinum Honors rewards bonus, then you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 3.5 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases.
The points you can earn on your Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card increase to the following:
- 3.5 points for each dollar you spend on travel and dining purchases
- 2.625 points for each dollar you spend on all other eligible purchases
For a card that can essentially work like a cash-back credit card (more on that below), you’ll be hard pressed to find any other offer that can compete.
Once you have at least 2,500 points in your rewards account, you can redeem your earnings in a few different ways.
Your points are worth $0.01 each when you redeem them. So, the 2,500 minimum you need to cash out your points is worth $25.
Bank of America will send you cash rewards through any of the following methods:
- Statement Credit
- Electronic Checking Account Deposit (Bank of America Checking or Savings Accounts)
- Credit to a Qualifying Cash Management Account or 529 with Merrill
You can also redeem points through the Bank of America Travel Center. The Travel Center gives you access to make purchases at over 200,000 hotels and resorts and more than 200 airlines. You can use your points for gift card purchases, if you prefer.
In general, the points you earn using your Premium Rewards credit card don’t expire. But if you or the card issuer closes your account, any unredeemed points would likely be lost unless the card issuer makes a rare exception.
Fees and APR
You shouldn’t look at the perks a rewards credit card offers without also considering its costs and interest rates. While the Premium Rewards card does not charge a foreign transaction fee on international purchases, it does carry other fees such as balance transfer fees. Here are the costs you could potentially face if you decide to open a Premium Rewards credit card.
The annual fee for the Premium Rewards credit card is $95 per year.
Foreign Transaction Fee
The card does not charge foreign transfer fees on purchases made outside of the United States.
Balance Transfer Fee
You may be able to transfer balances from other credit cards to the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card. If you opt to take advantage of this feature, you’ll pay either $10 or 3% of the amount you move over, whichever is greater.
When you miss the due date on your credit card statement, Bank of America may charge you $29 the first time it happens. If you pay late again within six billing cycles of another delinquent payment, your late fee will increase to $40.
There is, however, a caveat. The late payment won’t be higher than your minimum payment due. And if your total account balance is $100 or less, the card issuer won’t charge you a late fee at all.
You may receive a charge of up to $29 for any payments returned on your credit card account. Again, this fee won’t be higher than the minimum payment due on your account.
Cash Advance Fee
The cost for a cash advance varies based on how you want to receive the funds.
- Check Cash and Direct Deposit Advances are $10 or 3% of the amount of the transaction, whichever is greater.
- Over-the-Counter, Same-Day Online, ATM, and Cash Equivalent Cash Advances will cost you $10 or 5% of the amount of the transaction, whichever is greater.
- Overdraft Protection Cash Advances are $12 each, if you enroll in the service.
Wire Transfer Fee
If you use your card to purchase a wire transfer from a non-financial institution, you’ll pay 5% of the amount of the transaction or $10, whichever is greater.
Technically, the penalty APR isn’t a fee. But the APR is potentially quite high is an added cost you might have to pay if you fall behind on your monthly payments. According to the CARD Act of 2009, a card issuer can charge you a penalty APR on future purchases once you’re even one day late with your payment.
If you fall 60 days behind on your bill, the CARD Act says your issuer can apply the penalty rate to your existing account balance too. This is called a retroactive rate increase.
However, on the Premium Rewards credit card, there is no Penalty APR on existing balances. It’s a nice perk that’s hard to notice unless you read the fine print and are familiar with consumer protection laws.
Minimum Interest Charge
The minimum interest charge doesn’t qualify as a fee either. But if you incur interest on your Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card during a billing cycle, you’ll have to pay the card issuer no less than $1.50.
Depending on the condition of your credit score and credit history, you’ll pay a variable APR with the Premium Rewards card. In the future, your APR may fluctuate with the Prime Rate, as is standard for most credit cards. Of course, you can avoid paying any interest if you pay your full balance by the due date each month.
Balance Transfer APR
When you transfer a balance to your Premium Rewards credit card, you’ll pay the issuer’s variable APR. The APR is based on the condition of your credit score and report when you initially apply for the account.
Cash Advance APR
Cash advances feature a higher APR than you pay for standard purchases or balance transfers. Depending on your creditworthiness, you could pay an even higher APR for direct deposit and cash check advances.
If you request a bank cash advance, you’ll also pay a high APR. Plus, only part of your credit limit will be available for these transactions.
The Premium Rewards credit card has a lot to offer. Yet there are a few card features that are less desirable.
No points transferring allowed. The Premium Rewards credit card doesn’t let you transfer points to travel partners. That makes it simpler to redeem the rewards you earn, but it also limits the value of your points to a maximum of $0.01 each.
There’s an annual fee. The Premium Rewards credit card comes with a $95 annual fee. That’s a modest cost compared with several other rewards credit cards on the market. Annual-fee credit cards can be a great value if you use them wisely. However, these cards aren’t one-size-fits-all. You should always make sure the features of an annual-fee card make sense for your lifestyle.
Don’t spend much on travel or dining purchases? Are you worried you won’t utilize the card’s benefits or rewards? In either of these cases, you may want to search for a different rewards credit card.
Key benefits are travel-related. Two of the key benefits that come with the Premium Rewards credit card are travel-related. Namely, the card features a $100 per year travel statement credit for airline incidental fees and a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® that you can redeem once every four years. Both of these perks are nice. But if you’re not a frequent airline traveler, you might not get much use out of them. The coronavirus pandemic also has many people traveling less often these days. Keep these factors in mind when deciding whether this card can give you enough bang for its cost.
You can earn higher rewards with other cards. There are a number of credit cards that give you higher rewards on your spending. Some of these alternative rewards cards come with higher annual fees than the Premium Rewards card. Others don’t. For example, the Citi® Double Cash Credit Card has no annual fee and gives 2% cash-back rewards on all purchases.
The cheat sheet below compares three popular rewards credit cards with the Premium Rewards credit card to show you how the card stacks up against the competition.
Is the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card Right for You?
Do you have Bank of America deposit accounts or Merrill investment accounts? If so, you may want to strongly consider opening a Premium Rewards credit card. If your collective balances in those accounts make you eligible for a Relationship Bonus, you could multiply the points you earn with the Premium Rewards card by as much as 75%.
For a de facto cash-back card, the potential earnings become quite impressive in this scenario. On the other hand, if you don’t keep a sizable amount of funds in a Bank of America deposit account or Merrill investment account, this strategy won’t work for you.
If you’re looking for a card with killer benefits (Lyft credits, Uber credits, higher rewards in select categories, etc.), the Premium Rewards card may not be right for you either. It’s not difficult to find a number of credit cards with perks that outshine this card (like the Amex Platinum or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®). Yet you might pay more than five times the annual fee to tap into some of those more luxurious benefits.
In the end, you have to weigh the pros and cons above. These factors should help you determine if the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card deserves a place in your credit card line up.