Is The New Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card Worth It?

The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card is one of the newest travel credit cards available on the market and many might be wondering if it makes sense to apply for this card. Although this card is marketed as a premium rewards card, I see this more of a standard cash back travel card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard®. Still, although the marketing is a bit off in my opinion, this is still one of strongest credit card options for those looking to offset a large chunk of travel expenses.

The offer

  • 50,000 point bonus after spending $3,000 (worth $500)
  • Tiered bonus earning structure (see below)
  • $95 annual fee
  • $100 for airline incidentals, (baggage fees, in-flight drinks, etc. but excludes airfare)
  • $100 Global Entry credit

50,000 sign-up bonus

This 50,000 points sign-up bonus is worth $500 of cash back which is very nice, especially since the Arrival Plus just had its sign-up bonus drop to 40,000 and it might be harder to get approved for these days due to new credit card restrictions.

This card can essentially take the place of the Arrival Plus and offer people a great option for earning a nice chunk of cash back. There aren’t many cards offering such a high amount for a cash back sign-up bonus so this card is offering some great value that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Bonus earning structure

The bonus earning on this card is tiered and increases based on the size of your assets with Bank of America/Merrill. If you have assets that qualify for a certain tier and you sign up for the Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program, you’ll be able to earn the corresponding rates on certain purchases.

Here are the different tiers:

Bonus earning for those without a Bank of America account or less than $20,000 in assets (what most people will probably have):

  • 2X on dining and travel
  • 1.5X on everything else

For those with $20,000 to $50,000 in assets

  • 2.5X on dining and travel
  • 1.875X on everything else

For those with $50,000 to $100,000 in assets

  • 3X on dining and travel
  • 2.25X on everything else

For those with over $100,000 in assets and enrolled in Preferred Rewards Program

  • 3.5X on dining and travel
  • 2.625X on everything else

So if you’re just an average Joe with no assets or assets under $20,000 with Bank of America, you’re looking at a bonus structure of 2X on dining and travel and 1.5X on everything else. This is not an amazing earning rate considering that no annual fee cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card earn 2X on ALL purchases. So the cash back earnings for this card are average for most. If you do qualify for one of the higher tiers, then this can become one of the top-earning cash back credit cards, however.

$95 annual fee /$100 travel credit

The $95 annual fee is NOT waived but because this comes with a $100 travel credit the annual fee can easily be offset.

The travel credit is based on calendar year so there are certainly opportunities to double dip which is great news for the value of this card. The downside is that this is one of the more restrictive travel credits. Check out the key terms and conditions below:

Qualifying transactions are those purchases made on domestic-originated flights on certain U.S.-domestic airline carriers that include: preferred seating upgrades, ticket change/cancellation fees, checked baggage fees, in-flight entertainment, onboard food and beverage charges, and airport lounge fees affiliated with eligible airline carriers. Airline ticket purchases, mileage point purchases, mileage point transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases, award tickets and fees incurred with airline alliance partners do not qualify. Airline incidental fee transactions must be separate from airline ticket charges.

The key here is to examine if you would normally make $100 worth of such purchases in a calendar year. If the answer is yes then this is essentially a no annual fee cash back card. The card also offers $100 in credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check which adds more value and gives the card a more premium feel.

Protections

The card also offers a number of solid travel and purchase protections. While these are pretty solid they are not as good as the protections offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve which I consider to be the benchmark of premium travel cards.

Final word

This is a solid travel card considering how hefty the sign-up bonus is. I”m not crazy about the earning structure and the annual fee that’s not waived cuts down some excitement, but the $100 travel credit issued per calendar year is pretty huge for this card and makes this card an attractive option for anyone looking to cut out a large portion of their travel costs.

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