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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students Review

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a masters in business administration from New York University and a masters in finance from DePaul University.

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Editor: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Reviewer: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students Review

Rated 4.4 /5.0 ★★★★

College students travel for all sorts of reasons, including studying abroad, going home for the holidays, spring break, and summer sightseeing. The best student travel rewards credit cards can make your journeys more convenient and affordable, and you may even qualify for one with no credit history.

This credit card review analyzes the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students, which does require a good to excellent credit history to attain. We also analyze its three closest competitors, all great candidates for students who want to earn rewards.

And if you happen to have $20,000 or more stashed in a Bank of America or Merrill account, this card offers an extra 25% to 75% in value. And in any case, this student card should be near the top of your list when making your decision, and it could result in more travel fun.

Main Things to Know:

    • The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students is for students with good to excellent credit who want to accumulate travel points at a flat rate on all eligible purchases.

    • This unsecured card doesn’t charge foreign transaction or annual fees, and its regular APR ranges from average to high.

    • It has a generous signup bonus and 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases and 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days.

    • The card has several security features but lacks any meaningful student-oriented or travel purchase benefits outside its $0 foreign transaction fee.

    How to Qualify & Apply For the Card

    It’s easy to apply for the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students. You can simply click on the Apply Now button below to access the application on the Bank of America website. Here are the card’s key features:

    Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

    Advertiser Disclosure

    CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.

    Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students Review

    at Bank Of America - Credit Cards'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★

    4.4

    OVERALL RATING

    • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
    • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
    • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
    • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 18.24% - 28.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
    • When handled responsibly, a credit card can help you build your credit history, which could be helpful when looking for an apartment, a car loan, and even a job. Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app.
    • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
    • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
    0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
    18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
    $0
    Excellent/Good

    Additional Disclosure: Bank of America is a CardRates advertiser.

    To qualify for the card, you must be a US citizen or resident 18 or older and disclose your total annual income. Students under 21 must demonstrate an independent ability to make payments on a credit card or provide a cosigner.

    Applicants over 21 can use a mix of income and assets to prove they can afford the card’s minimum payments. You may even include income from others that you can reasonably access to pay your bill.

    In addition, you must provide your email address, phone number, and Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you use an ITIN, you must apply at a local bank branch.

    Surprisingly, you don’t need to supply proof of college registration to obtain the card. Another unusual aspect of this student card is that it requires you to have good or excellent credit. Student credit cards typically welcome applicants with any credit or no credit at all.

    Benefits & Drawbacks

    Students are often credit newbies, so navigating the world of credit cards can seem a little bewildering. Think of a credit card as a double-edged sword; on one side, it’s an excellent tool for building credit, managing emergencies, and earning rewards such as cash back or travel points.

    On the flip side, the lack of credit experience may leave many students unaware of the differences among competing credit cards. Some student cards are better than others, either because they offer larger rewards, richer benefits, and/or lower costs.

    To get the best results, don’t apply for the first credit card that comes to your attention. Weigh the pros and cons of several cards before committing to one. To help you evaluate this card, here are a few of its benefits and drawbacks:

    Benefits

      • No annual Fee: Enjoy the card’s perks without worrying about an exorbitant yearly fee. That’s good news for students on a tight budget.

      • Earn unlimited rewards: For every dollar you spend on eligible purchases, you earn 1.5 points, allowing you to save up for bigger travel purchase goals. Points don’t expire while the account remains active and in good standing. Your points may be worth more if you belong to the bank’s Preferred Rewards program.

      • Sign-up bonus: Get a one-time bonus of extra points if you meet a specified spending threshold within the first few months of account opening. The bonus is relatively generous for a student credit card.

      • No foreign transaction fees: Use your card without additional fees on purchases you make out of the country — ideal for studying abroad or international travel.

      • Flexible redemption options: Redeem your points for a travel credit or cash rewards starting at 2,500 points. Gift card redemptions start at 3,125 points.

      • Introductory APR: Benefit from a 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases after opening your account, providing you with a window to make large purchases and pay them off over time without interest.

      • Credit-building opportunity: Using this card responsibly helps you build a positive credit history, which is crucial for your post-graduation financial future.

      • Security features: Benefit from Bank of America’s strong security measures, including a $0 liability guarantee for fraudulent transactions and account alerts to keep your finances safe.

      • Overdraft protection: You can sign up for Balance Connect, an optional service to help prevent declined purchases, returned checks, or other overdrafts. You must link your eligible Bank of America checking account to your credit card.  This card charges no transfer fees, but other fees may apply.

      • Digital wallet compatibility: Add your card to your digital wallet for convenient and secure payments, making it easier to shop in-store without needing your physical card.

      • Free FICO Score: You can opt-in for monthly access to your updated FICO® Score for free via the mobile banking app or online banking.

    Drawbacks

      • Higher APR after the introductory period: After the 0% promotional period ends, the card’s interest rate for purchases and balance transfers reverts to a variable rate, which can be relatively high.

      • Good credit required for approval: Despite being targeted at students, the card requires a good to excellent credit score for approval.

      • Signup bonus spending threshold: The signup bonus, while attractive, requires meeting a spending threshold, which may be tough on a tight budget.

      • Points value and redemption: The value of the card’s points varies depending on how you redeem them.

      • Lack of bonus categories: Unlike some other student cards that offer higher reward rates on categories such as dining, groceries, or gas, this card offers a flat 1.5 points on all purchases.

    The card’s benefits are certainly worth pondering. But its drawbacks provide a good reason to shop around for competing cards that may suit your lifestyle better.

    Other Student Cards Worth a Look

    The following three cards deserve a good look if you want a cash back student card. They all feature a $0 annual fee and special promotions for new cardmembers. Consider them an alternative — or an adjunct — to a student travel card.

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★★
    4.6

    OVERALL RATING

    • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
    • Early Spend Bonus: Earn $50 when you spend $100 in the first three months
    • Earn 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber & Uber Eats, plus complimentary Uber One membership statement credits through 11/14/2024
    • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
    • Enjoy no annual fee, foreign transaction fees, or hidden fees
    • Lock your card in the Capital One Mobile app if it's misplaced, lost or stolen
    • Earn up to $500 a year by referring friends and family when they're approved for a Capital One credit card
    • Build your credit with responsible card use
    • Whether you're at a 4-year university, community college or other higher education institution, this card might be an option for you
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    N/A
    19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
    $0
    Average, Fair, Limited

    The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card offers the same 1.5% flat rate as the Bank of America card, but the rewards are cash back rather than points. That means the reward rate is the same regardless of the redemption method.

    The card also has no foreign transaction fee. Its signup bonus is much smaller, and the card doesn’t offer an introductory 0% APR promotion.

    Discover it® Student Cash Back Review

    at Discover Card'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★★
    4.5

    OVERALL RATING

    • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match for all new cardmembers – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 cash back into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
    • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places you shop each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases—automatically.
    • Redeem your rewards for cash at any time.
    • No credit score required to apply.
    • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
    • No annual fee and build your credit with responsible use.
    • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 18.24% - 27.24% applies.
    • Terms and conditions apply.
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    0% Intro APR for 6 months
    10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
    18.24% - 27.24% Variable APR
    $0
    Fair/New to Credit

    The Discover it® Student Cash Back card pays quarterly rotating bonus rewards instead of a flat rate. Rather than a signup bonus, it provides new cardmembers with an unlimited Cashback Match of all the cash back posted during the first year.

    Unlike the Bank of America card, this one does not require a good credit score, or indeed any score. However, its introductory APR promotion is costlier and shorter.

    Discover it® Student Chrome Review

    at Discover Card'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★
    4.0

    OVERALL RATING

    • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match for all new cardmembers – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 cash back into $200. There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
    • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
    • Redeem your rewards for cash at any time.
    • No credit score required to apply.
    • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
    • No annual fee and build your credit with responsible use.
    • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 18.24% - 27.24% applies.
    • Terms and conditions apply.
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    0% Intro APR for 6 months
    10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
    18.24% - 27.24% Variable APR
    $0
    Fair/New to Credit

    The Discover it® Student Chrome card offers a bonus reward tier with a quarterly cap on selected purchases. The remaining purchases earn only 1% rather than the 1.5% flat rate from the Bank of America card.

    This Discover® card also provides new cardmembers with a Cashback Match of all the cash back posted in the first year. This match is potentially more lucrative than the signup bonus from the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students. Still, the Bank of America card offers a much better introductory APR promotion.

    Cardholder Reviews on Reddit

    These real cardholder reviews may help persuade your decision one way or another.

    BayAreaLonghorn likes the card enough to be disappointed at the bank’s limit on student cards:

    “The Bank of America has a limit of one credit card per undergraduate student, and two credit cards per graduate student, regardless of credit scores or income. I found out this the hard way when I was ‘approved’ for a second card and received the card in the mail, only to get notified that they approved it in error, and they canceled the new account.”

    Another Reddit commentator is also a fan of the card:

    “[It’s a] non-annual-fee card. It doesn’t care about the carrier — just charge it and erase travel expenses (I think dining counts). And any Bank of America card enables you to visit select domestic museums for free during the first weekend each month via the Museums on Us program.”

    FAQs: What Is the Card’s Credit Limit?

    The card’s minimum credit limit is $500. Don’t expect a credit limit much above $1,000, as student cards usually keep limits low.

    The bank determines your initial credit limit when it approves your application. It bases the amount on several factors, including your ability to pay, your overall credit history, and the information provided on your application.

    You may qualify for a higher credit limit if a parent or another individual cosigns the card application.

    Is It Hard to Get Approved?

    Yes, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students is harder to get than other student cards. It is one of the few student cards that requires a good to excellent FICO score. Most other student cards accept students with limited or subprime credit.

    However, in one sense, this student card is easier to get than most. The reason is that you don’t have to document your registration at an eligible college. That’s highly unusual for a student credit card.

    In addition, you can get the card with an ITIN instead of a Social Security number, although you will have to travel to a bank branch for this to work.

    How Much Are 25,000 Bank of America Travel Points Worth?

    The value of the travel points from the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students depends on how you redeem them. When you use the points as a statement credit for travel and dining, they’re worth a penny each or $250 for 25,000 points.

    However, if you redeem the points for cash, they are worth only $0.006 each. So 25,000 points redeemed this way are worth $150. Gift card point values also vary.

    Another way to view this is that the card’s flat reward rate of 1.5% shrinks to just 0.9% when you redeem the points for non-travel rewards. That’s a weakness, as many student cash back cards pay 1.5% across the board (although they may charge a foreign transaction fee).

    If you happen to have money stashed away in a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account, your points can gain value through the Preferred Rewards Program. Your reward tier depends on your three-month combined average daily balance:

    TIER BALANCE REQUIREMENTS REWARDS BONUS
    Gold Tier $20K to <$50K 25% rewards bonus
    Platinum Tier $50K to <$100K 50% rewards bonus
    Platinum Honors Tier $100K to <$1M 75% rewards bonus
    Diamond Tier $1M and up 75% rewards bonus and no international transaction/ATM fees

    We doubt that many students have $20,000 or more on deposit in a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account. However, affluent parents can certainly open such an account in their children’s names to access the program and its benefits.

    Does the Card Cover TSA PreCheck?

    The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students does not offer a statement credit for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck fees as a benefit. The coverage for TSA PreCheck fees is available with some other Bank of America travel rewards credit cards, such as the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card — it provides up to $100 as a statement credit toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry every four years​​.

    TSA PreCheck is a US government program that enhances the security screening process at airports while providing a more efficient and expedited experience for low-risk travelers. PreCheck travelers can also take advantage of shorter wait times at security checkpoints.

    Are Travel Points Better than Cash Back?

    Whether travel points are better than cash back depends on your spending habits and travel goals. Each option has its unique advantages, and the best choice for you depends on how you use your money. Here’s a comparison to help you decide:

    Travel Points

    Travel points are rewards you earn through credit card spending or loyalty programs, redeemable for travel-related expenses. The following factors influence the value of travel points:

      • Potential for higher value: Travel points can offer more value per point when you redeem them for travel-related expenses, including flights, hotels, and car rentals.

      • Travel perks: Many travel rewards programs offer additional travel benefits such as free checked bags, priority boarding, airport lounge access, and no foreign transaction fees.

      • Flexibility for travelers: If you enjoy traveling, points can help you explore new destinations by covering a wide range of expenses.

      • Specific redemption: You use these points for travel-related redemptions, which can be a limitation if you prefer cash or if you don’t travel frequently.

    Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students points are worth more when you use them to cover travel and dining expenses rather than exchange them for cash or gift cards.

    Cash Back

    Cash back rewards are a percentage of your spending that the credit card issuer returns to you. They offer straightforward, flexible benefits that you can use for any purchase or redeem as statement credit.

    Factors that influence the value you find in cash back rewards include:

      • Simplicity and flexibility: Cash back is straightforward — you earn a percentage of your spending back in cash. You can use it for anything, not just travel.

      • Easier to understand: The value of cash back rewards is clear and fixed. Cash back doesn’t require navigating complex reward program rules or figuring out point transfer options.

      • No need to travel: If you travel infrequently, cash back provides a practical benefit that doesn’t require booking flights or hotels.

      • A potentially lower value for travel: While cash back offers flexibility, it may not provide as much value for travel as dedicated travel points.

    The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students pays you 40% less when you cash out your travel points. That’s a bad deal. If you prefer full value, consider the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card for Students or the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students.

    Considerations for Choosing

    No one wants to lose out on money or travel opportunities by chasing the wrong credit card parks. If you are a student, consider the following factors when choosing between travel points and cash back:

      • Budget and spending: If your budget is tight and you spend your money primarily on essentials such as textbooks, groceries, or dining out, cash back offers more immediate and tangible benefits to help pay for everyday expenses.

      • Travel frequency: If you love to travel, study abroad, or plan to travel during breaks, travel points provide valuable opportunities for discounted or free travel.

      • Future plans: Consider your post-graduation plans: Accumulating travel points now can pay off later if you’re likely to travel extensively.

      • Ease of use: Cash back is simple and flexible. It’s a better choice if you prefer a straightforward reward that doesn’t require managing points or understanding complex redemption options.

      • Card benefits for your lifestyle: Beyond rewards, assess whether the card’s other benefits match your passions.

    Choosing between travel points and cash back often comes down to balancing your desire for travel with the practical need to stretch every dollar. But students should also consider future plans and current finances.

    How Many Credit Cards Should a Student Own?

    If you’re a student, the ideal number of credit cards to own depends on your financial situation, spending habits, and responsible credit management. As a rule of thumb, starting with one credit card is wise when you’re new to credit.

    This approach allows you to gradually learn how to manage credit, budget your spending, and understand the importance of paying your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges.

    Once comfortable with managing one card and maintaining a good credit score, you can consider a second card to participate in different rewards programs (i.e., travel points and cash back).

    A second card can also reduce your credit utilization ratio (CUR, which is your available credit compared to credit used). A ratio below 30% can help improve your credit scores. But if you employ the second card for a spending spree, you may raise your CUR and hurt your credit.

    credit card utilization table
    Credit utilization ratios above 30% can negatively impact credit scores.

    When you apply for a second student card, the issuer may perform a hard credit check, which can slightly impact your credit score. Hard inquiries can remain on your credit reports for two years.

    Having multiple cards also requires you to keep track of different payment due dates, annual fees, and spending limits. You can damage your credit if you forget to make a payment.

    What Happens to the Card After I Graduate?

    Most credit card issuers automatically replace your student card with a non-student version. Credit card companies issue student cards to build brand loyalty, and graduation is when the strategy can pay off.

    You are not obligated to accept the replacement card. In fact, graduation is a wonderful time to reassess your needs and choose a card that will best fit your new lifestyle.

    How Does It Compare to the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students?

    Both of these student cards from the Bank of America provide respectable rewards, signup bonuses, and introductory 0% APR promotions. Your choice between them comes down to how often you plan to travel during your undergraduate years. If the answer is not so much, you may prefer the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students.

    The following chart compares the major features of each card:

    Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card for Students
    Annual Fee None None
    Rewards Rate 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases Top cash back rate in the category of your choice. Middle rate at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), Unlimited 1% on all other purchases
    Sign-Up Bonus A set number of points after spending a specified amount in the first 90 days Online cash rewards bonus after spending the required amount on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
    Intro APR 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
    Regular APR 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
    Foreign Transaction Fee No Yes
    Rewards Redemption Best for travel and dining redemptions Very flexible, cash back
    Reports to Bureaus Yes Yes

    Bank of America won’t let you own two of its student cards at the same time. But that doesn’t stop you from getting a second student card from another issuer, such as Discover, Capital One, or Chase. If you decide to get two cards, it may be best to make one a travel card and the other a cash back version.

    This Card May Be For You If…

      • You are a frequent traveler: Students who travel often, either domestically or internationally, will benefit from the travel rewards and no foreign transaction fees.

      • Are building credit: Students looking to develop or improve their credit history while earning rewards on their purchases will enjoy this card, as it combines credit building with the perks of a rewards card.

      • Want to maximize rewards: Students may want this card for maximizing travel rewards and getting the most value out of every dollar they spend on flights, hotels, and other travel costs.

    The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for Students is an excellent choice for students keen on earning travel-related rewards without worrying about annual fees or foreign transaction charges. But before you apply, check out the three competing cards to see which one best fits your requirements.

    About the Author

    Eric Bank
    Eric Bank Finance Expert

    Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a masters in business administration from New York University and a masters in finance from DePaul University.

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