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

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 2019 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. If you book travel through Bank of America’s travel portal you can earn double the rewards per dollar. 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
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students
BankAmericard® 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 $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account openingNone
Relationship BonusThose with a Bank of America checking or savings account receive an additional 10% points bonusReceive a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings accountNone
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 ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students will provide the best savings for college students whose budget is preoccupied with entertainment and dining out. This card provides 2 ThankYou points per dollar in these categories. That approximately translates to a 2% return. It’s significantly better than both the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students and the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students when used at bars, movie theaters, tourist attractions, and even concerts. Online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu also fall under the 2% entertainment category.

Like most rewards credit cards, this one isn’t intended for those who carry a balance on their credit card. The BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students still wins over the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students when it comes to that.

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.

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.

Comments and Questions

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer's Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, Amazon Business American Express Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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.

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® Card 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).

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