Bank of America is spreading its wings with a test of the Travel Choices Visa card in Oregon, Nevada, and San Diego.
It is the bank's first product launch since William R. Anderson was hired away from General Motors Corp. in May to be director of marketing.
The BankAmerica unit's credit card group had not made a major product introduction since the Sunoco Oil card in 1994.
Travel Choices offers a "broad array of distinctive vacation rewards to be used for recreation as opposed to the traditional frequent-flier programs," said Mr. Anderson, who is based in Phoenix.
Cardholders will earn one point for every dollar of purchases and balance transfers. They can redeem as few as 4,000 points for a one-day car rental from Hertz or Alamo and up to 50,000 points for a round-trip ticket to Europe on a U.S. airline.
At the time of Mr. Anderson's appointment, industry analysts speculated that Bank of America, the originator of BankAmericard and once the biggest credit card bank, was moving to recapture some of the market share that had run off in recent years.
The San Francisco-based bank ranks 11th in card receivables, at $10 billion, and it has 6.7 million credit card customers.
"It's good to see BofA back in the game," said Michael Auriemma, president of Auriemma Consulting Group in Westbury, N.Y. "But I would have expected BofA to come out with a product that was different from the ones already out there."
However, he added, "travel reward programs are very popular among consumers today, so it's important to have one in your portfolio of products."
"The most valuable way to use points is with airline travel," said Stan Dale, former editor of the industry newsletter, Mileage and Points, in Phoenix. "But the frequent-flier market is getting very saturated, and promoters are looking for new choices and opportunities for the public to consume."
The card requires a $25 annual fee. A fixed introductory interest rate of 9.9% jumps after six months to prime plus 9.99%, currently 18.24%.
Bank of America said more than 80% of vacations are taken by car, and consumers are taking more frequent and shorter trips.
"Revenue generation is a critical long-term concern for the future of our business," said Mr. Anderson.
He added that the bank needed to become more focused on the benefits it gives customers, and how they are different from competitors.
The pilot is expected to last three to four months, after which Bank of America would expand the program nationally.