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Which is better? Bank of America vs. Chase Credit Cards

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The Verdict

With Bank of America's credit cards, you can grow your bonus rewards and cash-back rates

Bank of America and Chase have similar credit card services.

Both have cards that:

  • earn cash-back
  • collect reward points
  • have no frills and good interest rates

The difference jumps out when you look at the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program.

Bank of America rewards you for keeping your bank accounts, investments, and credit cards under its roof.

As you build your wealth, the rate that you earn rewards can increase by up to 75%!

Why Bank of America is Stronger Than Chase

Bank of America is stronger because of Preferred Rewards Loyalty is rewarded.

When we compare the credit cards from Bank of America and Chase, Bank of America wins hands-down for rewarding its clients for loyalty.

Who has more assets? Bank of America or Chase?

When you deposit the cash-back you earn from a Bank of America credit card into your Bank of America checking or savings account, you get a 10% bonus.

If you have large balances across multiple banking and investment accounts with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch that bonus can increase from 25-75% through the Preferred Rewards program.

People love Bank of America credit cards because their rewards increase along with their bank account and investment balances

The cash back bump. There are positive consumer reviews about the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card.

Customers like the 3% cash back on gas purchases. They also like how your cash back gets bumped up by 10% if you have a bank account with them.

Customers say they appreciate how their rewards rate increases as their bank account and investment balance grow.

The biggest customer complaint about Bank of America is poor customer service

They're not feeling the love. The Better Business Bureau gives Bank of America an A- rating.

But the customer reviews on its site are 94% negative.

"My experience with customer service at Bank of America has been incredibly negative. They have set up their systems so that the customer is charged fees with no recourse, and their representatives can only say 'No, we can't help you.'"

The takeaway

Make the commitment. Are you willing to stick with Bank of America and its investment partner Merrill Lynch for all of your banking and investments?

That's a big commitment!

But if you're OK with that, then getting a Bank of America rewards or cash back credit card will make sense.

Over time, as your bank account and investment balances increase, so do the rates for your rewards with the Preferred Rewards program.

Why Chase Might Be Better

Chase could get you more cash back because of its 5% rate on some purchases

Cash-back doesn't get much higher. Some Chase credit cards provide up to 5% cash back on certain transactions. That's pretty much the highest cash-back rate you'll find.

With Chase, the high rate of cash back for select purchases is effective right away.

You don't need to build your wealth and keep all your accounts with the bank to qualify for a higher rate.

People love Chase credit cards because they can get high cash back

But get ready to do some work for it!

If you want to earn the highest percentage for cash-back right off the bat, then the Chase Freedom bonus categories could really pay off.

The 5% offered for select rotating categories is the highest in the industry.

But you need to be willing to do the work. You'll have to register each quarter and pay attention to the rotating categories for bonus points.

The biggest customer complaint about Chase is that the 5% reward categories are too limited

Loosen up a little! People who have the Chase Freedom card say they like the 5% cash back and the rewards program.

But some say the quarterly rotating purchasing categories for 5% don't always work for their lifestyles.

The takeaway

Loyalty beats work. If you like the idea of earning 5% cash-back then you can consider the Chase Freedom card. But there is work involved.

You have to register every quarter. And the categories that earn 5% change every three months.

Bank of America ultimately wins by offering some even higher bonuses for loyal customers.

About the Companies

Both banks are in the U.S. "Big Four"!

Both Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase are included in the "Big Four" of American banks (along with Citigroup and Wells Fargo)

Which bank in the USA has the most employees?

About Chase

It's big. Chase Bank is a subsidiary of J.P. Morgan Chase. The company has assets of more than $2.49 trillion. It claims to provide nearly half of all households in the U.S. with some kind of financial product.

About Bank of America

It's even bigger! Bank of America is the 2nd largest bank in the United States by assets.

Forbes lists it as the #11 biggest company in the world. Investment giant Merrill Lynch is its wealth management subsidiary.

Services Offered

What are the core services offered by Chase and Bank of America credit cards?

They've both got something for everyone.

Both Bank of America and Chase have different credit cards to suit people with different needs and priorities.

Some people want the lowest interest rates.

Other people don't plan on carrying a balance and just want to get rewarded for their everyday purchases with cash-back.

Both providers also have cards that reward people who travel a lot.

The good and the bad about Bank of America credit cards' core services

Cut to the low-interest rate chase. Some people only want to get the lowest interest rate and they don't care about rewards.

Those folks are going to want to sign up for the BankAmericard.

Show us the cash and rewards. Others don't plan on carrying a balance and just want to get rewarded for their everyday purchases with cash-back.

For them, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card would work well.

Crazy high cash-back opportunities. The Bank of America Cash Rewards card gives double cash-back for gas, grocery, and wholesale club purchases.

It also gives triple cash-back on gas purchased during the first $2,500 spent on gas/grocery/wholesale clubs each quarter.

So, if you're using your card for normal purchases like gas and groceries, this is a good card for you.

Travel in style and earn rewards. For travelers, The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card gives you 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining.

It also gives you access to perks like enhanced access to luxury hotels and travel concierge services.

The good and the bad about Chase credit cards' core services

For starters. If you're looking for a good starter card with a low-interest rate, Chase Slate is a good option.

Bring on the rewards and cash. If you don't plan on carrying a balance and are only interested in cash-back, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is a good choice.

The Chase Freedom card has the highest possible cash-back rate (5%). But you need to be willing to register every three months.

You'll also have to pay attention to the rotating categories with 5% cash-back.

Earn and spend points on travel. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card lets you earn double points for spending on travel and dining.

When you redeem your points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, they're worth 25% more. But for the best travel rewards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card gives you 3x the points for spending on dining and travel.

Cardholders also get access to airport lounges around the world.

The takeaway

Bank of America takes all three categories. The BankAmericard is the best card for people who need a low-interest rate to carry a balance.

Bank of America also offers superior cards for earning cash-back.

Even its travel rewards cards come out on top compared to Chase.

Rewards and Bonuses

What are the types of rewards and bonuses offered by Chase and Bank of America credit cards?

Both providers have incentives to attract and reward new customers.

Both also have programs that reward long-term customer loyalty.

The good and the bad about Bank of America rewards and bonuses

Step up for some sign-up bonuses. If you sign-up online for the Bank of America Travel Rewards card there is a 20,000 point bonus offer.

If you make $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after opening the account you get the bonus points.

You redeem the 20,000 points for a $200 statement credit you can use to purchase travel.

How many websites do you look at to book online travel?

The Bank of America Premium Rewards card has a huge bonus for signing up.

You get 50,000 points – worth $500 – if you use it to spend $3,000 or more within the first 90 days after you open the account.

But there is no low intro APR or $0 balance transfer period.

Loyalty is rewarded…big time! When it comes to rewarding long-term loyalty, Bank of America's Cash Rewards card rewards loyal customers for redeeming their cash-back into one of their connect Bank of America accounts.

You get a 10% customer bonus every time you deposit your cash-back money into a Bank of America checking or savings account.

For Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients, the rewards jump up to a 25-75% bonus.

The Preferred Rewards program has different levels for different clients:

  • Gold Tier - You qualify if you have a balance of $20,000 in your accounts or in investments with Merrill Lynch. Gold Tier membership gets you 25% bonus rewards on credit card purchases.
  • Platinum Tier - You qualify if you have a balance of $50,000 or more in your accounts. Platinum Tier membership gets you 50% bonus rewards on credit card purchases.
  • Platinum Honors Tier - You qualify if you have a balance of $100,000 or more in your account. Platinum Honors Tier membership gets you 70% bonus rewards on credit card purchases.

For the Bank of America Travel Rewards card, you get an additional 10% in bonus points if you have a checking or savings account with Bank of America.

There are no ongoing incentives for loyalty with the BankAmericard. But if you have the Bank of America Premium Rewards card, you get benefits including $100 in credit for airport security entry fees.

You also get $100 each year for costs like seat upgrades or baggage fees.

The good and the bad about Chase's rewards and bonuses

Score with new card bonuses.

The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited Cards have a bonus for new card members.

If you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months, you get a $150 bonus.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a big bonus for new card members.

You get 50,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

If you redeem your bonus through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, you'll get $625 towards travel. Chase also waive the $95 annual fee for the first year.

Lots of options for earning rewards. When it comes to rewarding long-term loyalty, Chase has a rewards program called Ultimate Rewards.

It's available for the Chase Freedom Unlimited cards and the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Rewards are not offered through the Chase Slate card.

For the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you get 1.5% cash back points for every $1 spent.

That's equal to 1.5 points for every dollar spent.

For the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you get 1 point for every $1 you spend.

But you also get 2 points for every $1 spent on dining or travel.

With the Chase Freedom card, you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 every quarter in specific bonus categories.

You get 1% on all other purchases.

So for example:

  • In Quarter 1, you might get 5% on gas stations.
  • In Quarter 2 you can earn 5% on grocery stores.
  • In Quarter 3 the 5% cash back could apply to restaurants.
  • In Quarter 4 you could earn 5% cash back in department stores.

The takeaway

Bank of America takes it to another level. This is the comparison that really sets the two companies apart.

It's impressive that Chase provides 5% cash back.

But it's only on certain purchases at certain times of the year.

And you have to register every quarter.

Bank of America's Preferred Rewards program gives you the chance to earn really high bonus cash-back and rewards.

As you build wealth in your bank accounts and investments, the rewards really start to pile up.

How much should you have in your savings account?

APR & Interest Rates

What APR/interest rates does Bank of America and Chase credit cards provide?

It's great that most of these cards offer a 0% intro APR rate.

But what kind of interest do they charge once the honeymoon is over?

The good and the bad about Chase's APR/interest rates

You've got balance transfer options. With the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards, for the first 15 months, there is 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases.

But there is still a 5% (or minimum $5) balance transfer fee.

The Chase card that's better for balance transfers is the Chase Slate card.

With the Chase Slate, you get a $0 balance transfer fee for the first 60 days after you open the account.

That's paired up with a 0% APR on balance transfer and purchases for 15 months.

After the 15 month intro period with 0% APR, the Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, and the Chase Slate cards all charge 15.99-24.74% APR.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card charges 16.99-23.99% APR.

The good and the bad about Bank of America's APR/Interest Rates

Make the most of that 0% intro APR. BankAmericard has intro terms that make it easy to transfer a balance from another card.

The company gives you 60 days with no fees for balance transfers right off the bat.

The 0% APR also applies to all purchases made within those first 15 months.

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card also gives you 60 days to transfer a balance with no fee.

Then you get 12 months with 0% APR on balance transfers (as well as on purchases).

After the 12-month 0% APR intro period, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card applies a 13.99-23.99% APR.

The Bank of America Travel Rewards card also has a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months. But there is a balance transfer fee of 3% right from the beginning.

The Bank of America Travel Rewards card has an APR between 15.99-23.99% after the 12-month 0% APR offer expires.

The interest rate for the Bank of America Premium Rewards card is 16.99-23.99%.

Get the lowest APR out there. The BankAmericard charges 12.99-22.99% APR after the 15-month 0% APR period.

So that's the lowest APR among all of the cards we've looked at here.

But what's also unique about this card is that your interest rate doesn't get raised if you make a late payment.

The takeaway

The bottom line matters. If you're just looking for the bottom line of the card that provides the lowest interest rates, then the BankAmericard is the one for you.

Even if you miss a payment the APR remains low.

Benefits

What are the benefits offered by Chase and Bank of America credit cards?

Each provider has different cards that offer different benefits and perks.

Some are more beneficial to people who travel.

Others give you options around how you can use reward points.

The good and the bad about Chase's credit card benefits

Get paid for referrals. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you get $100 cash back (up to $500 per year) for referring friends to sign up for the card.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can earn 10,000 points for every referral (up to 50,000 points per year).

Lots of ways to use your reward points. With the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you can shop with your points at Amazon or redeem them for cash back.

You can also use them to purchase gift cards or buy travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card lets you transfer points from other travel rewards programs at face value.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card gets you some elite travel benefits.

They include a credit for applying to get through lines at airports faster and access to a concierge who can help buy tickets to concerts or make reservations at restaurants.

Great protection. When it comes to protection, the Chase Freedom Unlimited offers Zero Liability Protection for unauthorized purchases.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you get insurance for travel cancellation or interruption.

What causes flight delays?

You also get auto insurance for rental cars.

Emergency assistance such as legal or medical referrals while traveling is also provided.

Both of these cards also extend the manufacturers' warrantee for an additional year.

Along with all of the other Chase cards, they provide purchase protection for 120 days against theft or damage, and fraud protection and alerts.

The good and the bad about Bank of America's credit card benefits

Innovative features. Bank of America's cards all have standard features including fraud protection, online shopping security, Digital Wallet technology, and text banking.

You can link your credit card to provide overdraft protection for your bank account.

You can opt to have a free FICO credit score access.

Solid travel protection. With the Premium Rewards Card from Bank of America, you get travel protections in case of cancellations or delays.

The bank also offers a roadside assistance service and car rental insurance.

The takeaway

A card with benefits. Both providers offer good benefits for travelers.

Chase's unique benefit of giving bonuses for referring friends could be especially beneficial for people with big networks.

But Bank of America wins for their standard benefits, features and innovative technology tools.

Costs & Fees

What are the costs and fees associated with these credit cards?

Now let's read the fine print on these providers' credit card accounts to see what kind of fees come with each of them.

The good and the bad about Bank of America's costs and fees

Annual fee for premium service. All of the Bank of America personal credit cards we've looked at here have no annual fees except the Bank of America Premium Rewards card, which has an annual fee of $95.

That card also has no foreign transaction fee.

Other fees are fairly standard. After that, the fees for all of the Bank of America cards we're looking at are identical.

The fee for the purchase of a wire transfer from a company that's not a financial institution is $10 or 5% of the total amount (whichever is more).

If you do a balance transfer, the fee is either $10 or 3% of the transaction amount (whichever is more).

Charges for cash advances are $10 or 3% of the amount of the transaction depending on which is larger.

If you get a cash advance from an ATM, over the counter, same day online, or a cash equivalent cash advance the fee is either $10 or 5%.

The foreign transaction fee is 3% of the transaction.

There are also fees for late payments (up to $38) and returned payments (up to $27).

The good and the bad about Chase's costs and fees

Everything from no-fee to high-fee cards. The Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, and the Chase Slate cards have no annual fee.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has no annual fee for the first year. After that, it's $95 a year.

For the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, the annual fee is a whopping $450. The Chase Sapphire and Sapphire Reserve cards are also the only ones that have no foreign transaction fee. After that, the fees for all of the Chase personal credit cards we're looking at are the same.

No surprises with other fees. Balance transfer fees are either $5 or 5% (whichever is more). However, that doesn't apply during the initial 60 day period when the Chase Slate card waives them.

The fee for cash advances is $10 or 5% of the transaction (whichever is greater).

The foreign transaction fee is 3% of each transaction.

The penalty fee for late payments is $15 if the balance is less than $100. It's $27 if the balance is between $100 and $250.

If it's $250 or more you get dinged for $37.

There are no penalty fees for returned checks or for going over the credit limit. But there is a $37 fee for a returned payment.

The takeaway

Don't pay a fee unless it's worth it. Bank of America's Premium Rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve cards all come with a high annual fee. So if you're not going to be taking advantage of features like 'no fees for foreign transactions,' the annual fee is not worth it.

Who Outshines in Customer Service

What kind of customer service can you expect with Chase and Bank of America credit cards?

Both of these providers have clients who have given them negative reviews around customer service.

But there are also positive points for both.

How often do you read online reviews?

The good and the bad for Chase credit cards customer service

It's mostly bad. The customer reviews for Chase credit cards on the Consumer Affairs website are overwhelmingly bad.

"Spent way too much time trying to get the problem fixed and their customer service was horrible. They do not care about their customers."

Errors with processing payments and lack of communication regarding people's accounts were also complaints.

"I called to see why I got a text message telling me my bill was past due. I hadn't used it in over a year and the card was cut up. They never sent me a bill telling me I had to pay an annual fee."

But it's not all bad news. Some Chase customers are satisfied by the customer service they've received.

"The online platform, the ease of redeeming rewards, and how quickly charges and payments are posted are the top three things I am pleased with"

The good and the bad for Bank of America customer service

It's just as bad. The customer reviews on Consumer Affairs for Bank of America credit cards are also mostly negative.

"I was on hold for over an hour for a call that took about 3 minutes. I am furious and will cancel the remainder of my BOA cards. This is the worst service I have experienced with a bank or credit card company."

There are also card holders who have experienced issues with errors resulting in their cards get declined.

Several complaints are about poor security and fraud.

Some good experiences. Some customers have reported great service from Bank of America.

"Bank of America has come through for me on many levels, I just had great service from their rep over the phone… 4 credit cards, no problems and have been with them for 5 plus years."

The takeaway

Do it for yourself. If you're looking for top-notch customer service neither of these providers have great reviews. But if you're OK with providing self-service Chase's customers have said good things about the online platform.

Key Digital Services

What special digital features can you expect with both Chase and Bank of America credit cards?

Today it's important to consider the features a credit card offers for digital technology. Both providers offer unique services for using their cards online.

The good and the bad about Bank of America's digital services

Let's go online shopping. Bank of America's credit cards provide a service called Shop Safe for shopping online.

This gives you a temporary card number for online shopping so you're not entering your actual card number.

Bank of America has a mobile app that lets you link your credit card for in-store, online, and in-app purchases.

The good and the bad about Chase's digital services

Innovative options. Chase credit cards provide online shopping security.

You can also link your Chase credit card to Digital Wallet technology.

One digital feature that is unique to Chase is the chance to use text for banking.

The takeaway

Go mobile. If you're big on texting you could benefit from Chase's text banking feature. But the Bank of America mobile app is the most useful because it offers so many different ways to pay.

How do you use your smartphone?

How to Sign Up

Getting started with Chase and Bank of America credit cards

Both providers give you useful tools to help you choose from all of their credit cards. They want your business!

Best way to begin with Chase

You might already qualify. There's a handy feature on Chase's website where you can see if you prequalify for one of the bank's cards. It will look up your credit score and offer you all the cards that you qualify for.

If you're transferring a balance you'd do well by starting with the Chase Slate card. You have no balance transfer fees for the first 60 days and 0% on that transfer for 15 months.

How best to begin with Bank of America

Use the tools. Bank of America also has a great online tool called Find My Card Now to help you figure out the card that is best for you.

They start by asking what kind of card you're looking for:

  • Rewards?
  • Low interest?
  • Students?
  • A card to help build credit?

If you pick "Rewards" they ask if you're looking for Cash Rewards, Travel Rewards, or Points. Then they connect you with the online application for the best card for your pick.

If you pick "Low Interest" or "Build Credit" they take you immediately to the BankAmericard.

How to Cancel

The easiest way to cancel Chase and Bank of America credit cards is by calling

What happens if you eventually want to cancel your card?

Funnily enough, it seems much harder to get out of your credit card account than it was to sign up!

Canceling with Bank of America

We need to talk. When you inquire about canceling on their website, Bank of America gives you a link to set up a meeting with them in person. Not very convenient, and obviously the bank is going to try to keep you as a client. You can also call the customer service number: 1-800-732-9194. Or you can mail in your request to:

Bank of America PO Box 982234 El Paso, TX 79998-2234

There is no online option.

Finishing with Chase

Talk to a rep. Chase also has limited cancellation options. The bank doesn't give you the option of an automated phone or online cancellation. You need to speak directly with a customer service rep by calling 1-800-432-3117. Or you can snail mail a cancellation letter to:

Card Services P.O. Box 15298 Wilmington, DE 19850

FAQ

Do you also need a checking or savings account to get a credit card with these providers?

You don't need to have a checking or savings account with either provider to get a credit card account.

What are the security features for each provider?

Bank of America's credit cards provide strong security and protection. If it detects abnormal activity, the bank let you know. There is also a $0 liability guarantee if your card is used for fraud.

Chase also provides fraud monitoring, alerts, and protection. You won't be charged for unauthorized purchases with Chase credit cards.

What kind of credit scores do you need for each provider?

The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card is for people with a good or excellent credit score (700 and above).

The Bank of America Travel Rewards card requires a credit score of good or excellent (750+).

You'll need a good or excellent credit rating to get a Bank of America Premium Rewards card. However, people on the credit score company FICO's credit card message board have reported getting a BankAmericard with a score in the 600s.

The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards are for people with good credit or better (700+).

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has been identified as the best card for travel rewards for people with an excellent credit score (over 750).

You do not need to have a perfect credit history to get the Chase Slate card.

The average score for people who reported getting a Chase Slate card was between 640-670.

But others reported getting approved for Chase Slate with a credit score in the 500s.

Bank of America has the overall strengths to become your credit card and banking partner

A Bank of America rewards or cash back credit card should be your pick if you are willing to go all-in and roll your banking, credit card, and investment accounts with the same company.

Right off the bat, you'll get 10% more for cash back deposits and similar increases in reward points.

But as time goes by and your wealth grows from $20,000 to $50,000 to $100,000, you'll earn 25-75% more.

As a long-term strategy, you can't beat that.

The chance to earn 5% cash back on certain purchases after a hefty sign-up bonus is one of the Chase credit cards' strengths.

But the need to register and change your habits to jive with the rotating categories makes it hardly worthwhile.

Do you use either Chase credit cards or Bank of America cards?

How has it worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.


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