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This article was last updated Feb 20, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
It’s never too early to build credit, and starting during college is a great way to establish a good credit score. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students is a $0 annual fee student card that can help you build credit and earn rewards on every purchase.
When used responsibly, this card can set you up for success later in life when you apply for an apartment, car lease or another credit card. Lenders pull your credit during the application process, and having a positive, established credit history can help you qualify for your best terms.
Know that you must be at least 18 years old and have a steady source of income to qualify for a student card. We’ll review where the Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students stands out among competitors, where it falls short and how it compares to another student card, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students.
What we like about the Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students
$0 annual fee. Similar to most student cards, there’s no annual fee.
Free FICO® Score. Bank of America provides free access to your FICO® Score, updated monthly when you opt in for this benefit. You’ll also receive the key factors affecting your score and other information that can help you understand credit and establish a good score.
No foreign transaction fee. When you travel outside the U.S., you won’t incur the typical 3% fee other cards may charge. For example, if you spend $500 abroad, you will save a $15 fee.
Straightforward rewards program. This is a flat-rate rewards card, so there are no rotating bonus categories to select every quarter for a higher cashback rewards rate. This can be a good fit for students who may be forgetful or don’t want to deal with changing rewards.
Special financing for new purchases. This card offers a 0% Introductory APR for the first 12 Statement Closing Dates on purchases (after, 17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR). If you take advantage of this offer, you can benefit from paying off new purchases, such as textbooks or a laptop, interest-free for one year.
What we don’t like about the Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students
Low rewards rate. While 1.5 points per dollar spent is decent, there are other flat-rate rewards cards offering up to 2.5% cash back on all purchases. But, considering this is a student card, the rewards rate is OK. Currently, there are no student cards from major issuers that offer more than 1.5 points per dollar spent on everyday purchases.
Cardholders earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points. Plus, earn 25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening.
Cash back can be redeemed in two ways:
- Travel credit (starting at 2,500 points): 1 point is worth 1 cent and travel purchases are eligible for travel credit during the 12 months from posting date. Just know that some travel-related purchases are not eligible, such as in-flight goods and services, and duty-free airport purchases.
- Gift cards (starting at 3,125 points): The value of points varies.
Compare it to the Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students
If you don’t plan on traveling abroad and prefer to earn cash back, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students is a good alternative.
This cashback card has more redemption options, such as a statement credit to cover all purchases — not just travel expenses. Plus, the cashback program is flexible, allowing you to choose one of six categories to earn 3% cash back (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings) on the first $2,500 in combined choice category, grocery store and wholesale club purchases each quarter.
However, this card isn’t the best fit for frequent travelers. There’s a 3% foreign transaction fee that’s not ideal for traveling outside the U.S. If you plan on traveling abroad, stick with the Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students or another no foreign transaction fee card.
Here’s a breakdown of the key features of both cards:
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students||Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students|
|Regular purchase APR||17.24% - 25.24% Variable||16.24% - 26.24% Variable|
|Intro purchase APR||0% Introductory APR for the first 12 Statement Closing Dates||0% Introductory APR for the first 12 Statement Closing Dates|
|Intro balance transfer APR||N/A||0% Introductory APR for the first 12 Statement Closing Dates following the opening of your account for transactions made within 60 days of opening your account.|
|Balance transfer fee||Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.||Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.|
|Rewards||Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on all purchases everywhere, every time and no expiration on points||Earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%|
|New cardmember offer||25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening||$150 cash rewards bonus after making at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening|
|Foreign transaction fee||None||3%|
If you’re a college student who plans on doing a semester abroad or traveling outside the U.S. often, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students can be a good asset. The rewards program has redemption options tailored to travel, and purchases made abroad won’t incur a foreign transaction fee. However, if you want a more robust rewards program that allows you to select a bonus category in which to earn 3% cash back, consider the Bank of America® Cash Rewards for Students.