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Bank of America Travel Rewards vs Chase Sapphire head to head

by on Mon July 27, 2015 • 26 Comments
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We get a lot of questions about these two cards, and you can read all the comparisons below, but the short answer is:

  • Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred if you want the option of turning points into real airline miles and hotel points, plus great trip delay and cancellation coverage. If you travel more than a couple times a year it’s a great choice.
  • Consider the Bank of America Travel Rewards card if you hate annual fees and want decent earning with no foreign transaction fees, but you don’t want to earn real airline miles or hotel points. If you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you can also earn up to nearly 3 points per dollar on all purchases, though we wouldn’t go out of our way to become a Preferred Rewards level client if you aren’t one already.

Here’s a rundown of the main features of each card:

  • Chase Sapphire PreferredThe card earns 2x points on dining and travel, and earns Ultimate Rewards points that you can use to buy travel on most airlines, or transfer into real airline miles with 6 airlines, including United and Southwest. You can also turn them into real hotel points with 3 hotel chains, including Hyatt and Marriott. It has a $95 annual fee after the first year.
  • Bank of America Travel Rewards: The card earns 1.5 points on everything you spend, has no annual fee, and the points let you cover the cost of any travel you purchase with your card. Preferred Rewards clients earn up to nearly 3 points per dollar on all spending.
  • Both cards have no foreign transaction fees and have an EMV chip built in with signature priority.

And here are more specifics on each card with the pros and cons so you can compare.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Pros and Cons

Pros

Turn points into real airline miles. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you transfer your points any time into United miles, Southwest points, or even British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, or Korean Airlines miles for all kinds of options that can get you the kinds of trips you never thought possible.

This is the most powerful feature of the card and if you already have some United or Southwest miles you’ll get more bang from your spending because you can add to the miles you already have.

Yes it can be a pain to deal with real airline miles sometimes, but this card gives you the best of both worlds.

You also have the option of using your points to pay for flights and hotels via the Chase website, at prices like those you’ll find on regular travel sites like Expedia or Orbitz. So you’ll always have a way to get good value from your points.

Flight delay coverage

Whenever you buy a plane ticket with your card, you’ll be covered for up to $500 in hotel, meal, and transportation expenses if your flight is delayed 12 hours or more. So you don’t have to think about whether the airline will take care of you. Just file a claim when you get back and you can be reimbursed.

Trip cancellation coverage

If you get very sick or badly injured and that keeps you from traveling on a trip you buy with the card, you can get the nonrefundable part reimbursed, up to $5,000 per person. That’s similar to standalone travel insurance that often costs $50 or more per trip, and even big purchases like cruises can be covered.

Any country card rental coverage

There are no ‘gotcha’ countries where you won’t be covered for car rental damage. You can rent in any country in the world and be covered for collision damage when you book and pay for the rental with your card.

Cons

Annual fee

There is a $95 annual fee after the first year, which you’ll have to weigh. If you spend $2,000 or more a month, or can take advantage of the airline mile transfer option it’s probably worth your while.

Base earning lower

You only earn 1 point per dollar on most spending, compared to 1.5 points per dollar with the Bank of America Travel Rewards card, but you get a lot more flexibility with points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, since you can turn them into real airline miles and hotel points to get even more value.

Need to book via the Chase website

If you don’t want to turn your points into real airline miles, you’ll need to book travel via the Chase website to use your points. It’s not terrible – you’ll find most airlines and usually find the lowest fares, but it’s not as easy as simply paying for a flight with your card and using points to get it reimbursed.

> Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred review

Bank of America Travel Rewards Pros and Cons

Pros

Faster earning on base spending. 1.5 points per dollar on all your spending adds up fast with a no annual fee card.

No annual fee

If you hate annual fees, it’s hard to find a better card for travel rewards than this one. But not having an annual fee means you give up privileges like the ability to turn points into real airline miles.

No need to book via a special website

Just charge any travel purchase to your card, then use your points to erase some or all of it from your statement. Every 10,000 points is worth $100 and you can redeem as few as 2,500 points at a time ($25 worth).

Extra points as a Bank of America customer

If you have a Bank of America account you can get an additional 10% bonus on your points each year. And if you are a Preferred Rewards level client with high balances in B of A accounts you can get a 25% – 75% bonus which can make the Travel Rewards card very lucrative with over 2 points per dollar on everything you spend.

Extra points on booking travel

If you buy travel via the Bank of America Travel Center you get another 1.5 points per dollar you spend, getting you at least 3 points per dollar. The catch is the Bank of America Travel Center is c clunky to use and doesn’t always offer the lowest fares.

Cons

No real airline miles / hotel points

You can’t mix and match these points with any airline miles or hotel points you already have, so you won’t be able to get the outsized value you can sometimes get when using real airline miles or hotel points, especially for big international or luxury trips.

Lower value for your points

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred every 10,000 points is worth $125 in travel (1.25 cents per point) if you decide not to transfer them to real airline miles or hotel points. With the Bank of America Travel Rewards card every 1o,000 points is worth $100 (1 cent per point).

Which should you get?

If you have some United miles or Southwest points you’re best off considering the Chase Sapphire Preferred so you can add to the points you already have.

And if you want to get good deals on international or luxury travel, or even regular hotel stays, that only real airline miles and hotel points can get you, then go for the Sapphire Preferred.

But if you just want dead simple rewards with no annual fee, but giving up some of the dream trip options, then the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is a decent choice.

Though given no fee on the Bank of America Travel Rewards card, if you’re willing to apply for another card there’s little harm in having it on hand regardless of what other cards you choose.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

Still confused? Have a question?

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"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."

26 thoughts on Bank of America Travel Rewards vs Chase Sapphire head to head

    1. MileCards.com

      @rw – ‘Real’ airline miles are those in an airline’s mileage program, like United MileagePlus, Delta Skymiles, or Southwest Rapid Rewards.

      You can’t move the Bank of America points into your account with airline mile programs.

      But with the Chase Sapphire, you can move your points into your account with some airline mile programs, like United MileagePlus or Southwest Rapid Rewards. That lets you add to miles you might already have.

      Reply
  1. CC

    I have a Chase Freedom card. Considering both BofA Travel and Chase Sapphire. Leaning more towards Sapphire. I usually travel internationally (United/JetBlue) once per year and domestically (United/JetBlue/Virgin) once per year. I have on occasion purchased travel insurance. Does the Sapphire travel insurance cover all tickets purchased with the card? Is it worth the annual fee? Traveled internationally this year and racked up lots of international fees here and there (Amex not accepted) plus earn good travel rewards.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @CC – Yes the travel protection covers all tickets purchased with the card (trip cancellation and flight delay coverage – all subject to limitations on what’s covered and when).

      Whether it’s worth the annual fee depends on how much you spend. If you tend to spend more than $1,000 or so a month you’ll probably earn more than the fee in rewards each year.

      Another advantage is you can add to the points you’ve already earned from your Freedom, and still use your Freedom for the rotating 5% categories to boost your earning.

      Reply
  2. Tom

    Please I know my CSP BIN starts with 414720, please what does BofA Americard Travel Rewards BIN starts with.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @help – Yes you can use either card to book JetBlue or United flights. With the Bank of America card, every 10,000 points is worth $100 toward flights. With the Sapphire every 10,000 points is worth $125 toward flights. Alternatively, for United, you can transfer the Chase points into United miles anytime and use them to book MileagePlus flight awards.

      Reply
  3. Ali

    Thank you for the insightful article. A little more specific question regarding my case that I would appreciate your input on:
    I am already a United Card (Chase Explorer) holder with some but not many United points (half wa to Silver status). My airlines are usually United and Southwest. Based on these I seem to favor the CS card.
    However, I am a BoA preferred client (Platinum( as I’ve had an account and my car loan with them for a while and get extra rewards and benefits. Not sure which of the CS or the BoA Travel-preferred outweighs the other.
    Thank you in advance.
    Ali

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ali – Neither are bad options. But there’s an interesting new rub…

      Starting in April Chase will have a card called the Chase Freedom Unlimited. That card has no fee and earns 1.5x points on everything.

      And if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the points you earn from it can be combined so you can transfer them to Southwest or United anytime.

      http://milecards.com/1588426750/chase-freedom-unlimited-united-1-5-miles/

      Since Southwest points are often worth 1.5 cents each on their own, it’s like earning 2.2x worth on your spending. And United miles can often be worth more than that especially when you’re building on miles you earn from flying.

      So for you, would recommend getting the Sapphire Preferred, and when it comes out, the Freedom Unlimited.

      Reply
      1. James

        @Ali – I’m sure you must have made a decision on this by now, but looking at it from an unbiased perspective, The Travel Rewards card would most likely be your better bet. With your Platinum status at Bank of America you get a 50% bump on your points, making each point earned worth 2.25% without having to do anything. That’s with no annual fee also!

        That makes it slightly better than the 2.2% you “might” get transferring Chase points to Southwest as mentioned above. Besides, finding opportunities to transfer points at 1.5 cents or more on any airline is not easy to do (domestically) and you have to be VERY flexible with your flights. I’ve tried to find these deals myself for a few years now. For overseas travel the chances are much better.

        I put together my own spreadsheet to compare Chase cards vs Bank of America based on monthly spend. You can try it yourself here..
        https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Xy27Qni9o_zZqyiev2F_XRtc631SUk-D-_O33BtWGDs/edit?usp=sharing

        Reply
  4. Pstef

    Torn between getting the boFa and CSP.
    I travel 2-3x a year mostly domestic, but will be traveling internationally, sometime next year. I spend around $15k to $18k a year on purchases.
    I need a Credit card where I can put all my expenses at once, to maximize any rewards I can get.
    I like to bargain on my travel, like Air fare tickets, rental car and hotels.
    So I am looking on a card that is flexible on redeeming points. Like I can book on any travel websites and agencies.
    Which CC do you think I should get?
    Please, thanks.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Pstef – If you want the flexibility to book via any website go B of A.

      And if you really want to pump things up, consider rolling your IRA or 401K over to a Merrill Edge account. If you have $50k or more, you can earn over 2x per dollar on all your spending.

      Reply
  5. Rock

    Not sure which card to get… I’m a moderate spender but I would like to make lavish travel arrangements sometimes. I travel on vacation 2-3 times a year but also fly back and forth to New York every three months or so. I have a BoA account already. I want to earn the most points, points that will actually turn it something tangible, I don’t want to be earning points so slow that it takes years to book just one trip and have to start from 0 again. I prefer to fly Delta and JetBlue, and I love using sites like bookit, booking and kayak.com to make my travel purchases.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Rock – If you prefer Delta, would say take a look and see if you’re targeted for a super-sized bonus on an Amex Membership Rewards card.

      http://milecards.com/1588417333/where-is-the-100000-point-platinum-card-offer-from-american-express/

      Otherwise not a lot of downside to getting both the Sapphire and B of A card. Earn the bonus on the Sapphire, and put it through its paces to see how quickly you earn points with your spending. You have a year with no fee, and get the bonus to try out.

      The B of A card never has an annual fee, so not much downside to just getting it and hanging onto it.

      Reply
  6. Dr. D

    I am torn between the two cards. I have a BofA regular account. But am a frequent Marriott customer so I would like the option of the Chase Card to utilize more Marriott points. Is the Chase care only beneficial for airline mile transfers? I have also hear the Chase card is better for big spenders. If I don’t spend that much each month, is the BofA card a better option?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Dr. D – We wouldn’t recommend getting the Sapphire just to earn Marriott points. The bigger value from your card spending is the airline transfers.

      If you don’t spend much each month, the BofA is a good safe choice with no fee.

      Reply
  7. Prashant

    Hi TPG,

    I have a BofA Travel Rewards card with about 20,000 points in it. I now have a offer to move to Chase Sapphire, Should I go ahead ?? What would happen to my 20,000 points of BofA ?
    I am genuinely confused.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Prashant – They are totally different cards and banks. Your 20,000 BofA points are safe as long as you keep that account open (there’s no annual fee on it). It’s okay to hold both cards if you like.

      Reply
  8. Andrew

    So, I just started working recently and I do want to travel a bit (maybe 1-3) times a year somewhere international or domestic (outside USA). The BOA TR; has the no annual fee which is great but it seems like overall the Sapphire has a better travel benefit for those who travel in general. I am wondering for someone who just recently entered the workforce and wants to travel between 1-3 times a year; what card would you guys recommend? I do currently have a BOA Cash back Credit Card at the moment but if there are other cards outside these two choice please include them for suggestion as well.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Andrew – If you want international travel, the Sapphire will give you more flexibility – as United MileagePlus (a transfer partner) has lots of options for otherwise expensive flights.

      Reply
  9. TravelBug

    Hi, so I work for the airline and I hardly ever buy full priced tickets (well, 2-3 times a year for small segments in europe on Ryanair or something). So, I have had the chase sapphire card for more than a year for no foreign transaction fees. I use the points I get for Amazon or get statement credit.

    But, I already have a checking and savings account with Bank of America and I don’t *really* need the travel rewards, I just need no foreign transaction fees. So, is it worth it to pay the $95 for chase sapphire or should I get the bank of America one with no annual fee?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @TravelBug – If you’ve just been using your Sapphire points for Amazon statement credit, then no reason to pay the annual fee.

      Reply
  10. Miles

    If you were eligible for the 2.625% rate, would you choose the CSP? Most valuations I’ve seen are around 2 cents per point, so it seems like an optimum strategy might be to use the CSP for the bonus categories and put the rest on the BoA card. (Although maybe you want to add a Freedom card into the mix for the 5x categories.)

    Sounds like the BOA card could be useful for things like fuel surcharges on premium award tickets.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Miles – No harm in carrying both given no fee on the B of A card if you want the point transfer flexibility, though would be surprised at how many people insist on only one card. One thing that’s missing from point valuations though is ‘top off’ value.

      Let’s say you earned 18,000 United miles from flying. And the 2 tickets you want cost 50,000 points, or $800 in cash total. Topping off 32,000 points to get that award effectively means your spending got you $800 in value, or 2.5 cents per point since the flight points were independent of your spending.

      Reply
      1. Yh

        Even under this scenario, the BofA Travel Reward would have been a better option since u get 2.625 cents per point?

        So if I understand correctly, where Chase Sapphire preferred might outperform is if u have existing airline miles or hotel points and need a little bit more points/miles to get you the purchase that you are looking for? Ie “top off value”. I guess u also get some travel insurance

        Otherwise, the BofA travel rewards is much more flexible as u always earn 2.625% regardless of the type of spending and redemption (as long as it’s travel related redemption). As for CSP, u need to spend on dining/travel and redeem with their partners in order to warn 2.5%.

        This assumes that I’m already a platinum honors BofA client and it doesn’t cost me anything to get to the status because I already do most of my broker and banking activities with BofA (ie no opportunity cost to get to that status).

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Yh – If you’re already top tier with B of A there’s really no reason you shouldn’t hold the card, especially if you’re after economy class travel. With Sapphire you could get say 3-5 cents per mile in value if you’re doing international business class tickets, topping off, or some domestic trips where fares are high, but there happens to be saver award space.

          If you’re not top tier with B of A then less attractive.

          Reply

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