- 1 Today’s feature: Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card review
- 2 Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard
- 3 Travel Banking Breakdown: How to Save and Protect Your Money
Today’s feature: Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card review
Next in the line is Bank of America’s BankAmericard Travel Rewards card, one of my favorite credit cards, and one of the most under-rated rewards credit cards.
Unlike the other card which targets consumers with a high portion of everyday spending allocated to grocery and gas purchases, this card focuses on travelers. Still, both bearing the BankAmericard brand, these two cards offer very similar benefits. To avoid repeating myself, I will highlight the main features, and if you’d like to read into the features, you can refer to my review of the Cash Rewards card.
Bank of America’s credit cards: an insider’s view is my blog post that describes the hidden benefits of owning a BofA credit card. Check it out!
I. Non-loyalty points rewards
The rewards type is non-loyalty points , where points are redeemed at a 1 cent per point ratio for travel expenses. “Travel” is very broadly defined. I have skimmed through their program details and found that travel expenses include purchases from:
Airlines, air carriers; Lodging-Hotels, Motels, Resorts; Car Rental Agencies; Cruise Lines or Travel Agencies and Tour Operators; Passenger Railways; Transportation-Suburban and Local Commuter Passenger, including Ferries; Bus Lines; Transportation Services; Real Estate Agents and Managers—Rentals or Timeshares; Campgrounds and Trailer Parks; Motor Home and Recreational Vehicle Rental; Tourist Attractions and Exhibits; Amusement Parks, Carnivals, Circuses, Fortune Tellers; Aquariums, Dolphinariums, Zoos, and Seaquariums; Boat Leases and Boat Rentals; and Recreation Services-not elsewhere classified
Not sure how to comment on this extensive list. I bet massage services in your home city count, too
1. Reward formula: 1.5 points per dollar on everything. If you book travels through Bank of america’s Travel Center, a practice that I do not necessarily recommend, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar. If you have a banking account with BofA, you’ll get an annual 10% points bonus, making your earning rate effectively 1.65 points per dollar.
2. Redemption option: Point redemption works in the form of expense reimbursement: you pay the expenses up front, then get partial credit back. You get a credit of 1 cent per redeemed point. Travel expenses will be available for redemption online for 6 months, and by phone for 12 months, from the posting date of the transaction.
3. Minimum amount for redemption: 2,500 points
And since the list of expenses eligible for point redemption covers most recreation services, points are as good as cash. I view this Bank of America’s BankAmericard Travel Rewards card as a 1.65% cashback rewards credit card.
1. No foreign transaction fees
Credit cards typically charge you 3% for purchases in another currency. Sometimes when you purchase a service whose office is based in another country such as hotel booking through hotels.com, you’d have to pay the foreign transaction fees since the transaction is in a foreign currency. With the BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card, you won’t pay these fees.
Concierge service is actually a very helpful feature of this card. Sometimes when you travel to an unfamiliar location and need to get tickets for special events or find places that satisfy certain requirements, this concierge service will be very helpful: somebody else will actually do the legwork for you. I’ve tested this function out myself: their concierge, Silvia, was able to find very detailed information on shark viewing tours on Oahu, Hawaii, down to the prices, schedules, and pick-up locations.
The following features are common between this card and the Cash Rewards card:
- Purchase Replacement
- Purchase Guard
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
- Emergency Travel Assistance
- Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance
III. Interest rate and fees
- Overdraft Protection
- EMV Chip Technology
- Mobile Banking and Text Banking
- $100 cash back bonus after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
- 0% APR for 12 billing cycles
I carried this card with me on my last international trip
In short, the Bank of America’s BankAmericard Travel Rewards is a very good no-annual fee, 1.65%-earning credit card that carries no foreign transaction fees and offers a complimentary concierge service. If you want a simple rewards card with a straightforward, high earning rate, you should consider this card. I have the card myself, and have been very satisfied with it. Together with the Cash Rewards card, this credit card will stay with me forever.
15 thoughts on “ Today’s feature: Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card review ”
Did you apply for this card while still under secured card status? I am diligently following your blog (thank you for all the tips!) and I applied and got a bofa secured card this year. Can’t wait for it to graduate next year. However, I am currently taking my junior year abroad and the foreign transaction fees on the cash rewards secured card are not fun. I am considering applying for the rewards card but I am not sure if it is wise to do that now. What do you think?
Yes, I got this card while my first card, also from Bank of America, was still a secured card. I don’t know how you’ll work out the foreign address issue; I’m pretty sure you need to have an American address to apply for a credit card, and then you’ll need to get the card sent to your foreign address. What you can do is request early graduation for your card; I have heard people getting success with just 6 months of history on the card. And once the card graduates you can request a product change to the Travel Rewards card; that way you won’t have to deal with the address issue, but you’ll miss out on the sign-up bonus.
Wow, thanks for your quick reply! I still have my US address, it is just my box at my college so if i were to get the card, my mail center would forward it to me. I was just curious as to whether BofA would be willing to issue it to someone whose card is still a secured card.
By the way, some back story: I’m an international student like you, and I applied for credit cards my freshman year, and sophomore year and got denied each time. I didn’t know enough about credit cards yet to know that I stood virtually no chance. Then this year, I stumbled upon your blog and applied for the secured card based on your recommendations. I did not previously have an account with bofa, so i opened one at the same time i applied for the card. I stupidly forgot to ask for the rewards version and I didn’t have a personal banker so i was given the ordinary one. In August, i tried to apply for the Travel Rewards since I was going to spend my junior year abroad and i got denied. I applied on the phone. When I went back to the branch where I opened my accounts but the person I spoke to didn’t mention the possibility of a manual overide. I don’t blame her, I had the card for only 3 months, and though I was doing every thing right, I guess she assumed that the response would be the same anyway – a denial. She however did arrange for me to be upgraded to the Cash Rewards.
Fast forward to today, I was just googling the Travel Rewards card again, I used the exact search phrase : ‘bank of america travel rewards secured’ and the first link was your blog which I had completely forgotten about. Anyway, I went on to read and read more and more on your blog, I have almost read every post you have made on credit cards!
While reading, i stumble on http://hiepsfinance.com/2013/01/30/bank-of-america-is-awesome/ . There you mentioned how your bank manager had gotten you in touch with someone who could do a manual overide, so it occured to me to try that. Even though currently abroad, and without a referal from a personal banker, I called bofa, and asked to speak to a credit analyst and requested them to reconsider my application for the credit rewards card which I had made in August, right before traveling abroad to begin my junior year, and 3 months after opening my secured card in May
I made that application by phone and was instantly denied. Anyway, after a long hold on the phone while my account was reviewed (during which I was shaking) , the senior credit specialist gave me something very similar to your suggestion. Instead of graduating my card, she would close my secured card and get me the Travel Rewards card if I so desired! She told me something I didn’t know, which is that bofa does not give college students more than one credit card which is why she would be unable to give me the Travel Rewards card in addition to the secured Cash Rewards card.
So I was quite shocked, I didn’t expect that since I’ve only had my secured card for 5 months, but fortunately, i’ve had no late payments and i’ve always paid my balance in full soon after my statement was released as you have always recommended. Anyway, I told her that I would think about it, simply because I don’t know enough about cards, like you, am an international student coming from a country where credit cards are not a thing!
What would you honestly advise me to do? I am scared of this early graduation route because I’d like to keep both cards so that the great history I’ve already built on this secured card stays. I think that since I will be getting a new card and not graduating, I will not have your experience of retaining the history. I plan confirm that when I call back bofa after hearing from you because that is something I’d really like to know and I believe you’d like to know as well.
I’m confused because the point of my getting the secured card was to be able to graduate in the future, so if bofa is ready to kinda sorta graduate me early, i feel as if I should be jumping at the opportunity, right? However, I’m just not sure if this graduation means that I will now be issued a non-secured card and have my huge deposit returned or if I will be given a Travel Rewards Secured Card if that even exists, but I highly doubt that.
I was too shocked at the offer when speaking with the analyst that it didn’t occur to me to ask all these questions. I was also scared, hehe, I come from a third world country where officials change their minds at will, and I wondered if I asked too many questions, maybe the offer would be withdrawn, so I just made sure the offer would stand if I called back later to accept it because I wanted to hear your advice since you are clearly more knowledgeable about this than I am. The analyst assured me the offer would stand and gave me a direct no. to call as well as a ref. no.
What would you honestly advise? Should I graduate to the Travel Rewards card now, or should I wait until my secured card automatically graduates, and apply for a Travel Rewards card then? The way she said it, it sounds like if I go through with the offer, I wont even have to lose the sign up bonuses! That is enticing, but I just want to make the best decision for my long run credit history. Unfortunately, since I am a college student, that would have to be after I graduate college, and since every case is different, I don’t even know if I will have the same fortune as you have had. I’m so confused and excited.
P.S I realise this comment is very long, and sounds very rambling. I have no other way of contacting you which is why I am sending it through this, I look for an email address on your blog but I didn’t find any contact info. Thanks so much and I promise to keep you updated on this, whatever happens, especially if I do get the card, I will definitely reply with a shorter comment to say what happened and maybe you can feature my story on your blog or I can write about it myself! If you feel it is too long or gives away too much personal information or what not, please feel free to edit it.
Thanks Richard, you have helped me get this far in my credit journey!
In the earlier stages of credit building, the length of credit history is very important. Even though you will not lose the history with the secured card, the history with a closed card has less significance than that with an open card. If you see yourself applying for another card within the next 6 months or a year, I would strongly advise not closing the first card. Given the fact that the credit analyst was willing to give you a non-secured Travel Reward card, your credit profile must be good enough to warrant a non-secured card from Bank of America. If that is the case, early graduation should be feasible; after all, graduation is simply a product change: your secured card becomes a non-secured card. If you decide to request early graduation, definitely bring up the previous credit analyst’s offer to justify the request.
Do you have any other concerns?
Thanks, Richard! I was worried about this exactly and I’m glad I didn’t accept the offer on the spot.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but if I were to request early graduation and then a product change, as your first reply recommended, wouldn’t they still close my just graduated card in order to effect the product change?
That was the way I understood your comment, which is why I didn’t even ask for a graduation when I called bofa, I only asked them to kindly look into my denied Travel Rewards card application.
If it will just be the same card with all the credit history remaining intact seamlessly, I would solve my problem of the foreign transaction fee while also graduating much sooner than i even imagined was possible – that would just be wonderful.
A product change only modifies the reward structure of the credit card and some benefits and terms; everything else, including the history of the card, is not affected. So no, they will not close your card. It will be the same card with a new reward structure.
In fact Bank of America Travel Rewards card gives back only 0.9% and not 1.5% or 1.68%. It does give 1.5 points for every $1 spent but the cash redeeming rate scales it back to 0.9%.
Cash redeeming rate is NOT 1 cent for every point.
Of course the marketing language touts the $1 to 1.5 points even giving you charts with money spent and points redeemed but there is no chart about points to redeemed cash. Only when you want to redeem the points you get the realization that the 1.5% is in fact 0.9%.
Therefore, look for other cards that give you at least 1% CASH back. The points is only a nice tool for marketing to lure math challenged customers.
You get the rate of 1 cent per point only when you redeem points toward travel purchases. This is a travel rewards card; the best redemption rate is always for travel. If you redeem points for merchandise or anything else, you will not get 1 cent per point.
Every time I have redeemed 2,500 points, my credit card balance was reduced by $25; that is a rate of 1 cent per point, unless I did my math wrong.
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard
Spend big on gas and office supplies? This card gives the best rewards of the small biz bunch.
Advertiser Disclosure: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertising partners.
If you spend big, like up to $250,000 annually big, in combined gas and office supplies purchases, the Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard will give you the best rewards out of the small business card bunch.
But unless your spending is targeted primarily in those areas, other cards have the potential for greater rewards.
If you’re the type of business owner that has a small fleet of vehicles and spends a lot on office supplies, you can take this card to the bank — literally.
Not only does this card pay 3% cash back in these two categories, but it has one of the highest annual spending caps in a bonus category among small business credit cards — $250,000 in combined spending before your rewards rate drops down to 1%. This means you could earn back as much as $7,500 on your spending before your rewards rate drops.
You’ll also earn 2% cash back on purchases at restaurants and 1% on all other purchases.
Any business owner who spends heavily on gas and office supplies can benefit from owning this card.
- Get a $200 statement credit if you open an account online and spend at least $500 in the first 60 days of opening an account.
- Enjoy a 0% introductory offer on purchases for nine billing cycles, a nice break on interest for businesses who are just starting out.
- The rewards are generous in the areas many businesses are likely to spend the most.
- Although there’s an introductory APR offer on purchases, there isn’t a break on balance transfers.
- The bonus rewards categories on this card may not be in areas your business has expenditures.
- Unlike some other cards’ dining rewards, this card only pays 2% on actual restaurants. Coffee shops and bakeries are among the places that do not qualify.
- The parameters for what counts as an eligible office supply store purchase excludes discounters, warehouse clubs and “merchants that sell high-priced office equipment such as computers or desk units.”
- This card has a foreign transaction fee, so it’s not a good choice for international travel or purchases.
• There’s an introductory 0% APR offer for nine billing cycles on purchases. After that it’s a variable 12.24% to 22.24%.
• This card has no annual fee.
• There’s a 3% balance transfer fee.
• This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside the U.S.
• Late payments won’t affect your APR, but you may be subject to a late fee of up to $49.
You can start redeeming your cash back after earning at least $25 in rewards. You can redeem your rewards as a statement credit or a deposit in your Bank of America small business checking or savings account.
Additional employee cards are free.
This card comes with travel and emergency protections, including travel accident insurance, auto rental insurance and lost luggage assistance.
Travel Banking Breakdown: How to Save and Protect Your Money
Travel banking when you’re abroad can be confusing and costly. However, if you understand the basic principals of finance while traveling you’ll be able to save your hard earned dollars. Which, in turn can lead to more travel. This way you’re not stuck wondering about the best travel credit card or how to exchange foreign currencies and avoid ATM fees.
This is especially true for those traveling on a budget.
However, even the most luxurious of travelers will need to make “cents” of travel banking before going abroad. These banking tips are designed to save you money while traveling and prevent fraud.
Many banks charge fees these days and at times it’s overwhelming for anyone not in the know. The first problem likely to drive any traveler mad is unnecessary ATM fees. It is common place for many banks to slap a fee and percentage for every withdraw from an ATM abroad.
Fees can range from 1-5% of the transaction to even a couple of dollars per transaction. That could be a budget breaker for cash strapped backpackers or a price gouger for big spenders. The good news is it’s completely avoidable. When you do the math it’s easy to see how the dollars can add up.
Say you pull $200 out at a time and spend $1600 dollars in cash during the course of your trip. If you’re getting hit with $4 fees from both the foreign ATM and your home bank withdraw on top of a 3% foreign transaction fee the costs add up. That $1600 could cost you around $112!
We always shop around with checking accounts and try to avoid foreign transaction fees with both our bank and the ATM we choose to withdraw from. So make sure to…
There are a number of checking accounts and banks that offer no foreign transaction fees or a global ATM network. Two of the best options in the market for travelers is Charles Schwab and Ally Bank.
A High Yield Investor Checking Account through Charles Schwab eliminates all foreign transaction fees and even offers ATM rebates. That means that not only will you not get hit with a fee, but they’ll actually refund fees imposed on you by foreign banks. This works anywhere in the world and is the choice for most serious travelers. It should be noted they do a credit check and require new customers to open a brokerage account. We have had this debit card for seven years and never travel anywhere without it. It’s one of the best debit cards for international travel.
The second bank we recommend is Ally Bank. While they do not eliminate all foreign transaction fees they come pretty close. Their Interest Checking Account only charges 1% for some foreign currencies and they reimburse you up to $10 in ATM fees every billing cycle, so as long as you’re strategic with your ATM withdrawals you may never have a fee. It’s a great option to use for travelers who do not have the credit for a Charles Schwab account or would like a backup solution. Ally Bank is also completely online and we find it to be one of the best international banks for expats. They have 24/7 support and you can deposit checks and sync up other accounts with Ally at the drop of a hat.
While we are not experts with banks outside of America we know many travelers choose to bank with HSBC. They offer global support and banking in almost 30 countries around the globe.
There are many ways to exchange currencies, but the first step is understanding the current exchange rates. Luckily most of us carry an amazing tool to help us out, our smart phones. There are a ton of free apps that offer currency exchange, but we’ve stuck with the same over the last four years of travel. The XE Currency app is by far the best one on the market.
I’ll never forget the look on some black market money changers in Africa when I pulled out the app in front of them as they were trying to scam us. It’s also a good idea to know a basic exchange rate before you land in a country. I once met a traveler who ended up paying $26 for a Big Mac in Dubai because he did not know the exchange rate. Check all rates on www.xe.com.
You have a various number of options to exchange money. There are two ways we recommend.
Do Use ATM Machines: Using a debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM is the easiest way to get the local currency. You can find ATMs all over the world these days even small towns in Africa (trust us). We always choose to withdraw in the local currency and never in our home currency. That way the bank gives you a flat market exchange rate. There are number of banks and ATMs that offer to convert the currency for you before dispensing. Do not let this happen as it often ends in a poor exchange rate.
Do Use Credit Cards: We use our credit cards for every purchase we can. Our favorite is the Capital One Venture Rewards card, which offers purchase protection, no foreign transaction fees, and rewards redemption program. You can check out our other favorite travel credit cards you can earn rewards from. Which means not only do you receive a fair exchange rate, but you can earn up to 3% cash back. Many travel credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees and it’s just the same as paying in the local currency with a flat exchange rate. This all depends on where you are traveling as many parts of the world primarily use cash. I would say just about anywhere in the US, Europe, and even throughout Asia will let you use a credit card.
Credit cards offer purchase protection!
Here is the most simple way to think about purchase protection. When you use a debit card you are essentially writing a check or paying in cash electronically. However, when you use a credit card you’re taking a loan which means the bank must prove that you indeed authorized the purchase. This gives you great protection when it comes to fraud abroad. If you notice a charge on your credit card that you did not make you can call your credit card company and flag the charge. It is then up to them to close down the acccount and refund you for the unauthorized charge.
Avoid Currency Exchange Booths: These guys are pretty much crooks. You find these exchange booths all over the airport, city centers, and train stations. Exchange booths generally offer terrible exchange rates and silly money back guarantees. They’re exceptional for finding a way to tack on a commission even if you see a “no commission” sign. This is generally done by offering horrendous exchange rates banking on travelers ignorance and desperation for cash.
Avoid Money Changers: Not only are money changers illegal in many parts of the world, but some can be straight up crooks. We avoid these guys at all costs, unless in an extreme situation. Money changers are prevalent around land borders and try to catch you in situations in which you’re forced to change money with them. On our recent overland trip in Africa, borders were a downright nightmare with ATMs and legitimate banks being few and far between. However, there was no shortage of money changers. The best way to deal with these guys is to hide all cash and never hand them cash until agreeing to a rate beforehand. Even after you agree you must check your cash in hand as they may try and scam you further and give you wrong amounts of cash. You have to be firm, observant, and stern with any money changers.
We burn through a lot of cash when we travel because it’s still the one thing universally accepted. Many developing nations still operate on cash payments. The problem with cash is that it’s susceptible to theft and can make you an easy target. In our most audacious travels, we carry $1000 in emergency funds, but generally only travel with about $200 in excess cash. There are a number of ways for first-time and experienced travelers to protect your cash.
There are a number of products on the market that are designed to hide money such as bras, money belts, and silly money necklaces. I prefer to keep a travel wallet in my front pocket and keep an eye on my waist in crowded areas, while Tasha will stash money in her bra. It may not be as “secure” as the anti theft options, but I don’t run the risk of forgetting a new habit and leaving a money belt in my hotel room.
We recommend stashing emergency cash in your luggage, backpack, or suitcase. There are a number of great places to stash cash that we recommend.
- Empty chapstick tubes
- In prescription bottles
- Sewn into fabric
- Shoe sole insert
- Dirty clothes
In hotel rooms it is always a good idea to use the hotel safe. We use them religiously after having cash stolen from our wallets in the hotel room while we were at breakfast. It might sound easy to accuse the cleaning staff, but it’s best not to present the opportunity as many maids work in harsh conditions and you may not notice items missing until you are long gone from your hotel anyway. If someone is stealing they more than likely need the money more than you so best not to present the opportunity and lock your valuables away.
The rates of financial fraud increase every year. However, if you’re savvy and protect yourself you’ll be able to protect your finances.
Multiple Bank Accounts: We keep three bank accounts each at least. It’s always best to keep your finances divided. A great place to start is to utilize a travel checking account, savings account, and personal checking account. I typically keep around $500-1000 in my travel account and transfer over money as needed to a checking account that I can withdraw from.
Savings Account: The bulk of your money should reside in a savings account like Ally Bank’s Online Savings Account. I recommend keeping the account separate from any other checking accounts and cards. That way there is nothing physical to steal linked to the account. The Ally Bank savings account currently offers 1.15% interest which is leaps and bounds better than any other savings account on the market. With just $10,000 in your savings account, that means another $150 every year!
Online Banking: You need to make sure your online banking sessions are always secure. We never log in to our banks in public and avoid using public and unsecured WiFi. Always ensure your connection with your bank is secure and choose complicated passwords that are hard to guess.
Set Daily Limits: Take a look at your daily spending habits and then set a limit on both your credit cards and bank accounts. This means that even if your bank account or credit card is compromised the crook can only make away with a set limit.
Keep an Eye On Your Credit Card: Card skimming is a popular form of fraud and it involves making a copy of your card that can then be used anywhere. To avoid this pay at the terminal with your credit card and keep eyes on it at all times.
Inform Your Bank: It’s always best to inform your bank and credit cards of your travel plans. This way when you arrive at your destination your credit and debit cards are working properly. Informing the bank also ensures they can better monitor fraud activity.
At the end of the day you’ll live. We traveled all over the world and have never been victims of fraud, pick pockets, or robbery. The worst we’ve seen is 80 dollars lost in a hotel room.
If you follow these tips it will be easy to make sense of banking when traveling and ensure you save your hard money. Which means you can travel more for longer!