Which Bank of America Student Credit Is the Best Fit for You?

If you're wondering which Bank of America student credit card is the best fit for you, read on to learn more about the differences between the two options.

When you’re a college student, one of the many essential skills is managing your money well. Sure, using cash is fine, but opening a student credit card can help with convenience. Plus, you can use it to build your credit history, which will come in handy for things such as renting an apartment and taking out loans in the future.

In most cases, these types of credit cards don’t have any annual fees, and they may even offer rewards each time you make a purchase. Those who don’t carry a balance won’t have to pay interest charges.

There are many options for student credit cards, each with its own pros and cons. One major bank — Bank of America — offers two options: the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students. 

Both cards help you earn rewards, but there are some differences you’ll want to look into before you apply for either one. We’re going to break down each of these cards to help you make an informed decision.

Differences Between the Student Credit Cards

Both Bank of America student credit cards offer rewards, no annual fee and the same annual percentage rate (APR) ranges. However, they differ in terms of the rewards you’ll earn, their sign-up bonuses and other types of fees. 

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students is a travel rewards credit card. Cardholders can earn points toward travel expenses, including flights, hotels, cruises, baggage fees and rental cars. 

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students, on the other hand, allows cardholders to earn cash-back rewards on qualifying purchases. Instead of earning points toward travel, you can redeem cash-back rewards in $25 increments. 

Here’s a closer look at both cards and their features. All rates are accurate as of Dec. 6, 2021. 

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students

Annual fee




13.99% to 23.99% variable

13.99% to 23.99% variable

Foreign transaction fee



Types of reward

  • 3% cash back on a category of your choosing (gas, dining, travel, drug stores, online shopping or home improvement retailers)

  • 2% cash back on purchases at grocery stores and wholesale clubs

  • 1% cash back other types of purchases

  • Earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent  on purchases

Sign up bonus

$200 cash bonus after spending a minimum of $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening

25,000 bonus points after spending a minimum of $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening

Suitable for

Students interested in earning cash back

Students who want to travel and study abroad

What’s also great about both cards is that you can earn bonus rewards if you can meet the minimum spending requirements. Be careful about spending on products and services that you don’t need. If you stretch yourself too thin, you could end up in debt, defeating the purpose of earning rewards. That’s because you have to pay interest, negating the “free” rewards. 

Who the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students is Best Suited For

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students is great for almost all students due to its simplicity. You don’t need to worry about understanding what types of purchases qualify — simply earn 1.5 points for each dollar you spend. However, if you don’t intend to travel a lot, then this card may not be the best fit, even with the slightly better sign-up bonus.

If you’re someone who plans to travel and study overseas, signing up for this credit card is a smart idea since you won’t be charged a foreign transaction fee. Credit card issuers impose this fee when you make purchases outside the U.S.. Think of it as a fee you pay for the privilege of using the card abroad. Many other credit cards charge a fee — usually 3% — which can add up if you use your card often in another county. 

Who the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students is Best Suited For

Students who are organized and want to maximize their rewards earnings are a great fit for the  Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students. If you plan accordingly, you can maximize the amount you earn in the 3% earnings category of your choice (make sure it’s one you spend on often) such as dining, gas, travel, online shopping, home improvement, home furnishings, or drug stores. Don’t forget the 2% cash-back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores. 

The 1% cash-back reward is typical with other cash-back cards. If that’s all you’re going to earn, there may be better cards out there. Plus, you’ll want to remember that the cash-back rewards for the higher tiers are limited to $2,500 in purchases each quarter. 

Using a Credit Card Responsibly

A credit card — rewards or not — can be a helpful tool as you’re becoming more independent as a college student. It’s crucial you use a credit card responsibly, or you could end up in more debt that you bargained for. Just because you can spend up to the credit limit doesn’t mean you should. 

Some may find it helpful to treat their credit card like a debit card, using it only for purchases they know they have the money for. By making smart financial choices now, you’ll be able to set yourself up for success in the future. 

Do you know what else is a smart financial move? Shopping around for the best undergraduate and graduate student loans. Doing so helps you nab lower rates, saving you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Juno’s here to help by negotiating for lower rates on your behalf — becoming a member is absolutely free. 

Sarah Li Cain
Written By
Sarah Li Cain

Sarah Li Cain is a finance writer and a candidate for the Accredited Financial Counselor designation whose work has appeared in places like Bankrate, Business Insider, Financial Planning Association, Investopedia, Kiplinger, and Redbook. She’s the host of Beyond The Dollar, where she and her guests have deep and honest conversations about money affects their well-being.

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