Bank of America student credit cards: Which one is right for you?

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In a Nutshell

Bank of America’s student credit cards might be a great option for college students looking for their first credit card. The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students stands out for offering decent and flexible cash back opportunities with no annual fee. This combination of features allows you to keep the card for the long term so you can use it to build your credit history, too.
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Compare Bank of America student credit cards

  The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for students The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for students
Highest base rewards rate 3% cash back 1.5 points for every $1 spent on purchases
Rewards categories Complex to manage Easy to understand
Annual fee None None
Intro APR for purchases and/or balance transfers OK OK
Sign-up bonus $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening 25,000 points (redeemable as a $250 statement credit or travel) for spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Foreign transaction fees 3% None


What you need to know about each card

Bank of America offers two student-focused credit cards for you to choose from. Each card has benefits that could help you in different ways depending on your current needs and circumstances. Here’s what you need to know about each card before choosing the right one for you.

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for students 

If you’re looking to earn cash back, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for students could be a good choice. This card gives you the flexibility to choose your top cash back earning category at a rate of 3% cash back. You can choose from the following categories:

  • Gas
  • Online shopping
  • Dining
  • Travel
  • Drugstores
  • Home improvement/furnishings

You can also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Unfortunately, your cash back for the 3% and 2% bonus categories is limited to the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter. After that, you’ll earn 1% cash back on the rest of your purchases in those bonus categories.

Other helpful features of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for students include …

  • $200 cash rewards bonus for spending at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
  • No annual fee
  • Free FICO® credit score
  • An introductory 0% purchase and balance transfer APR for 12 billing cycles from account opening (then a variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR for both)
  • Balance transfers must be made within 60 days of opening the account to qualify for the intro balance transfer APR, and they carry a balance transfer fee of $10 or 3% (whichever is greater)

Unfortunately, this card does charge a 3% foreign transaction fee. That means it may not be the best choice if you plan to use the card while studying abroad.

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for students

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for students offers a simple way to earn rewards. You’ll earn 1.5 points for every $1 of purchases you make.

One nice thing about this card is that you don’t have to worry about bonus categories or reward caps. There are also no foreign transaction fees, which could make it a great card to use while you’re traveling or studying abroad.

Where things get complicated is in redeeming your points. To get a value of 1 cent per point, you have to redeem your points for travel statement credit. Your other redemption options leave you with a points value of less than 1 cent per point.

This card also offers some other features you may find helpful.

  • 25,000 bonus points (worth $250 as a statement credit for travel purchases) for spending at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days after opening your account
  • No annual fee
  • Free FICO credit score
  • An introductory 0% purchase APR for 12 billing cycles from account opening (then a variable 14.99% to 22.99%)
  • There’s no intro APR offer for balance transfers. Balance transfers have a variable APR of 14.99% to 22.99%. They also come with a balance transfer fee of $10 or 3% (whichever is greater)

How to pick the right card for you

Picking the right Bank of America student credit card ultimately depends on your circumstances and your goals for your new credit card. Either card could be a solid choice to add to your wallet depending on your needs.

If you’re looking for the best credit card rewards, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card for students offers the highest earning rates. But credit card rewards shouldn’t be the only thing you consider.

For instance, someone studying abroad may be more focused on avoiding foreign transaction fees. In that case, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card for students may be a better choice, since it doesn’t charge these fees.

Take a close look at your specific situation to figure out which card features are most important to you. Then, pick the card that offers the best combination of features for your situation.

Not sure any of these cards are for you? Consider these alternatives.

If Bank of America’s student credit cards don’t fit your specific needs, consider these cards as an alternative. 


About the author: Lance Cothern is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. His work has appeared on Business Insider, USA Today.com and his website, Mone… Read more.