Which Bank of America Student Credit Card Is Best For You?

Which Bank of America Student Credit Card Is Best For You?

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Bank of America offers three different credit cards for students – all of which serve very different purposes. Your best choice will depend on a number of factors, including how much money you tend to spend, and whether you tend to pay off your balance month-to-month. Your choice will determine how much money you can save while at school.

ValuePenguin’s 2020 Picks For Best Bank of America Student Credit Cards:

  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students: Best for international travel and varied spending
  • Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students: Best for saving money on gas and groceries

On Earning Rewards: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students vs Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

The two differences between the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students and the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students you need to focus on are their rewards rates and the foreign transaction fee. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students is the easiest to understand, as it earns you 1.5% back on all your purchases, no matter where you shop. The rewards are given in the form of points that you can redeem to pay down travel purchases on your bill. The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students, on the other hand, gives users 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter. That is much higher than the rewards you can earn through the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students, however you must face those category limitations and the spending cap. All purchases outside of that earn just 1% cash back, which is significantly lower than what you get with the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students.

So how do you split the difference? If non-grocery and non-gas purchases make up a significant part of what you charge to your credit card, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students may be the better choice. It will be far better for students who spend a lot of money on books, movie theaters, school supplies or at bars. However, keep in mind that all the rewards you earn with this card are only useful if you can eventually use them to pay for travel. If you don’t normally travel, then you should go with a traditional cash back credit card like the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students.

International Students and Travelers Should Be Aware of Foreign Transaction Fees

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students is the only Bank of America student credit card to not charge users a foreign transaction (FX) fee. The other credit cards will impose a 3% fee on all transactions outside of the United States.

This can be especially important to international students who may use a credit card to supplement some of their budget. Using a credit card is actually an easy way to have an emergency fund while abroad. Your parents or guardians can receive and pay your bill back at home, while you use your Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students overseas. If you want this kind of set up, then having a credit card with no foreign transaction fee is crucial. Getting charged a 3% fee on top of every transaction will quickly mount up. It doesn’t matter how many rewards you earn – they won’t make up for the financial loss brought on by a foreign transaction fee.

Comparing The Bank of America Student Credit Cards at a Glance

If you still want more details about each of the Bank of America student credit cards, the table below gives the most pertinent details. Use it to cross-compare among the three options.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for StudentsBank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for StudentsBankAmericard® Credit Card for Students
Rewards1.5 points on all purchases1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and now at wholesale clubs and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarterNone
Special Offer25,000 online bonus points after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening$200 cash rewards bonus offer after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account openingNone
Foreign Transaction FeeNone3%3%

How Do The Bank of America Credit Cards Compare to Other Student Credit Cards?

Most credit card analysis is incomplete, unless you take a moment to consider it in the greater context. We took a look at some other popular student credit card options, to see how the Bank of America offerings compare.

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card

Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card
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The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is an excellent card for people who frequently make small purchases. That's because Citi rounds up purchases to the nearest 10 points. For example, a $1 coffee would get you 10 points while a $12 taxi ride would get you 20 points. Additionally, the card doesn't have an annual fee making it favorable for a college student's budget.

The card awards users 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases. This means that you'll be earning points regardless of what you purchase with the card. Currently, users can get 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Info about the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Students who aren’t turned away by having to do a little extra homework will find some of the best savings with the Discover it® Student Cash Back. The card provides one of the highest rewards rates of any student credit card. It gives 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, and wholesale clubs up to a quarterly maximum of $1,500 when you activate. The downside is that you have to keep track of these changing categories if you want to get the most out of it. Non-bonus categories only get you 1% back. The bonus calendar tends to be pretty student-friendly. It includes things like Amazon.com, where you can order textbooks at a lower price. For 2020, the categories include grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS (January-March), gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs (April-June), restaurants and PayPal (July-September), Amazon.com, Target and Walmart.com (October-December).

Discover also has a special promotion going on for students who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Every year your grades match that threshold, Discover will award you a statement credit of $20. That’s a nice extra touch for those who already put in all that hard work. This perk will last up to 5 years.

Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).