Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Part of the fun of award travel is learning how to maximize your points and miles. You can get outsized value by booking through airline and hotel loyalty programs, but there’s something to be said for the simplicity of cash-back rewards.
With that in mind, here are five reasons to add the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card to your wallet.
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Diversify your rewards
Transferable points are the royalty of the award travel world, but a well-rounded portfolio should also include points or miles that function like cash.
The Premium Rewards card allows you to redeem points at a rate of 1 cent apiece as a statement credit toward any purchase. That gives you the flexibility to wipe out miscellaneous travel expenses including taxis, train tickets and parking fees that would otherwise be paid for out of pocket.
Of course, you can also use these points to cover conventional travel purchases such as airfare and hotels. When prices are high, you’ll be better off booking awards through airline and hotel loyalty programs. But when prices are low, you may get better value from cash-back rewards. Having both options available will help you maximize your return for each redemption.
Related: Not traveling for now? How to maximize your rewards points on other redemptions
Redeem valuable travel credits
The Premium Rewards card has a $95 annual fee, but you can more than offset that cost with the card’s annual up-to-$100 airline incidental statement credit. While this credit can’t be used to purchase airfare, you can apply it to pay for a range of incidentals including baggage fees, inflight entertainment and seat upgrades. The benefit is offered each calendar year, so you can likely get up to a total of $200 in credits during your first year as a cardmember.
The card also offers a credit of up to $100 every four years to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®. This might seem inconsequential if you’ve already enrolled in an expedited security program or if you still have a similar credit available on another card.
However, keep in mind that this benefit works for any Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application — it doesn’t have to be your own. You can use your card to pay the fee for a friend or family member and it will be reimbursed just the same.
Related: Top credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
Score a large sign-up bonus
The Premium Rewards card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. With a base earning rate of 1.5 points per dollar, you’ll have at least 54,500 points after you meet the spending requirement — that’s worth $545 in statement credits. And if some of your spending is on travel or dining, you’ll end up with a bit more, since you earn 2 points per dollar on those purchases.
You can find more lucrative bonuses among the current top travel rewards credit cards, but this is a strong offer for a cash-back product. Competitors such as the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card come with fewer or less flexible miles or both. Those cards also lack some of the more compelling perks (like the up to $100 annual airline incidental credit) that set the Premium Rewards card apart.
Get an impressive return on everyday spending
The standard earning rates on the Premium Rewards card are 1.5 points per dollar for most purchases and 2 points per dollar on travel and dining. Those numbers are unexceptional, and you’ll come out ahead (or at least even) by using a card that earns 2% cash back or one that earns more valuable rewards.
DANIEL SLIM/GETTY IMAGES
However, you can boost your return by as much as 75% through Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program. To participate, you’ll need an eligible Bank of America checking account and an average daily balance of at least $20,000 in qualifying deposit or investment accounts. The largest bonus is available to customers with a balance of $100,000 or more. At that level, you’ll earn 3.5 points per dollar on dining and travel and an impressive 2.62 points per dollar on non-bonus spending.
If you already have high-value accounts with Bank of America, then getting this card is a no-brainer. If not, establishing a new banking relationship — like The Points Guy himself did a few years back — may be a profitable move.
Related: Stop ignoring Bank of America Preferred Rewards
Spread out your applications
In terms of rewards credit cards, Bank of America has historically been overshadowed by Amex, Chase and Citi. Those three issuers have a track record of offering supersized sign-up bonuses and high-end benefits, but they also limit how many accounts you can have and how often you can open new ones. Focusing too much on any single card issuer makes it harder to take advantage of future opportunities, so the Premium Rewards card is a good option if you’re looking to diversify your portfolio.
Unfortunately, your application will still count against you when it comes to Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule, which pertains to the number of accounts you’ve opened across all card issuers. Bank of America also has its own set of application restrictions, so you should wait to apply if you’ve already reached the limit.
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card doesn’t come with flashy travel perks like lounge access or elite status. Instead, it offers cash-back rewards that are flexible and easy to redeem, and the opportunity to earn a solid return on everyday spending. The sign-up bonus provides a lot of extra value up front and the card effectively pays for itself through the annual airline credit.
So if you’re looking to earn points outside of airline and hotel loyalty programs, this card is a good place to start.
For more information on the card, check out the following posts:
Review: Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
How the Premium Rewards card stacks up against low and no-annual-fee cards
FAQs About the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® card
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox and Peter Rothbart.
Featured photo by The Points Guy.