Bank of America is rounding out its travel rewards cards pretty nicely with some very specialized cards.
They are currently the largest bank in the United States by deposits, which means that chances are you already bank with them. This provides the absolutely simplest single login solutions I have had the pleasure of experiencing. Citibank has been pretty good, but they don’t make viewing all of your accounts as simple as Bank of America does. The only other one in the running is Chase, which I don’t currently bank with.
The BankAmericard Travel Rewards card is decent, but you can get a lot better out there for generic travel cards. The bonuses aren’t great, a flat 10%, but the redemption rate appears to be very fair. I won’t focus on it for now because it isn’t too great, and I want to focus more on the specialized cards that they are offering.
Cruises: Unique among most major banks, Bank of America has two Cruise rewards credit cards. Cruise rewards credit cards are relatively new, and rare for the moment. If you really love cruises and need to save everything you can for them this could be an effective way to do so.
- Royal Caribbean Visa: Provides you with the only way to earn points for Royal Caribbean for the moment. Signup bonus is decent at 10,000 points after the first qualifying purchase. You earn 1 Royal Point per dollar, double points on most Royal Caribbean purchases, and up to 250,000 points per year. It also has nice feature called Purchase Replacement that replaces stolen or damaged goods within 90 days of purchase.
- Norwegian Cruise Line MasterCard: Also the only one of its kind for Norwegian, but its strange since it doesn’t provide points directly for the cruise lines loyalty program. Instead you get Bank of America’s WorldPoints. The Bonus is also 10,000 points, with 1 point per dollar, and double points on Norwegian purchases. It also includes the 10,000 point bonus on first qualifying purchases, and the Purchase Replacement feature. Still the fact that it uses WorldPoints drops the value of this specifically for cruises, but becomes more valuable if you want to redeem your cruise rewards for other things.
Conclusion: If you like to go on cruises a lot, both are good deals. The Royal Caribbean card will be a much more specific and rewarding card for cruises. The other card is great if you want to be more flexible on redemption, but because it’s outside of the main loyalty program, redemptions for cruises may be harder to find.
AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature Card: The signup bonus is very disappointing at 2,500 after first qualifying bonus. The bonus for purchases are tiered nicely with 1 per dollar for everything, 2 points per dollar for gas, groceries and drug stores, and 3 points on all AAA and travel purchases. The redemption appears fair. Overall this card is very disappointing since it doesn’t even come with free AAA membership.
Airlines: While not the top rewards programs out there these cards are competitive for Airline cards. The only special part of this is that they fit some very niche markets for airline travelers, instead of being very global or flexible.
- Alaska Airlines Visa: 25,000 bonus miles without even a purchase. Combine this with 1 mile on all purchases, 3 miles per dollar on Alaska Airlines Purchases, and specials on partner hotels and restaurants that o up to 5 miles per dollar, this card doesn’t play on being a much more modest travel rewards card than most of the American Express lines. To pile on top of that it mimics on of the nicest features from the top of the line American Express Platinum card. It provides you with a free coach companion fare on Alaska Airlines flights.
- Virgin Atlantic American Express: One of the newer international airlines, Virgin’s trendsetting style, and good rates have made it a reasonable airline for those primarily dealing with travel in the Atlantic.The signup bonus is ok at 20,000 after first purchase, but this card has an annual 15,000 bonus on every anniversary. Additional card members get you another bonus of 5,000 points. The earning rates wont be too bad with 1.5 miles per dollar on every purchase and 3 miles per dollar on Virgin Atlantic purchases. Additional bonuses include 1 tier point for every $2,500 in purchases, and additional tier points for flying Virgin Atlantic and airline partners. Redemption rates get better with a second reward ticket for half miles when reedeeming Flying Club miles for a Virgin Atlantic Economy reward ticket (Min expenditure of $25,000/year to qualify for this last one).
- Asiana Airlines American Express: A very different set of rewards for this one. Mileage earnings at 1 per dollar on everything, 2 per mile on gas and grocery stores, 3 points per dollar spent on Asiana Airlines. No signup buonus, but a 10,000 annual bonus in certificate form. Also you get $100 rebate on Asiana Airlines tickets, and 2 Asiana Airlines lounge invitations.
- Spirit Airlines Master Card: One of the fastest growing economy airlines, this card can really boost your savings even more. 15,000 signup bonus after first qualifying purchase. Earn 2 miles for every dollar, 5,000 anniversary Free Spirit miles when you spend $10,000 annually. The only down side is the annual fee at $59 (waived first year). Still it has preferred boarding, Price Protection, and Purchase Guard (a warranty that doubles US warranties).
Conclusion: Most of you will be more interested in Spirit and Virgin Atlantic. They are both very value oriented options for people under the Bank of America flag.