Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

GOBankingRates Score

quick take: Earning cash back on your purchases is a great idea — if you spend enough in specific categories. The Bank of America Cash Rewards card allows you to earn 1 to 2% back in cash rewards. Plus, you can select one additional category for a 3% bonus.

  • party

  • Rewards

  • Bonuses

  • Approval Odds

How did we calculate this?

pros

  • Earn 3% cash back on one category of choice
  • All purchases that don’t qualify for one of the bonus categories reward you with an unlimited 1% back
  • $200 cash bonus after approval if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • No annual fee
  • Introductory 0% APR offer for first 15 billing cycles

Cons

  • Spending caps on earning rewards
  • Best rewards only available to Bank of America relationship customers
  • Only six bonus categories are available

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card Overview

The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card has some solid strengths when it comes to a low-fee rewards credit card. If all else fails and you don’t want to track your spending, you can rest assured that you’ll earn at least 1% back on your purchases.

However, doing so leaves money on the table — you’ll need to understand how the card works to maximize your cash-earnings potential. Consider the following points:

  • Rewards: 3% cash back in one category, 2% cash back on grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • APR: 13.99% to 23.99%
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Introduction Offer: $200 bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles on balance transfers made in the first 60 days
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% or $10 minimum

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The Bank of America Cash Rewards card gets four stars in this review when it comes to fees. The good news is, you won’t have to worry about an annual fee ever, which will save you close to $100 per year. However, keep an eye on the foreign transaction fee of 3% if you plan to travel overseas and the balance transfer fee of 3%. However, it may still be worth paying the balance transfer fee to save on interest for 15 months.

As far as APR, the 13.99 to 23.99% interest rate is fairly average for a credit card. Keep in mind that the rate may vary based on your credit score. The lower 13.99% is typically reserved for applicants with excellent credit. Regardless of the APR you’re assigned, you can avoid it altogether by paying your card balance in full when it’s due.

Rewards

Warehouse club shoppers will really like this card. Unless you can qualify for branded warehouse club cards such as the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi for an impressive 4% cash back, earning 2% back on your Costco or Sam’s Club shopping when you pay with the Bank of America Cash Rewards card isn’ t a bad alternative. What makes this card unique is the option to choose a category for 3% rewards. Choose one from the following categories to bump up your earnings potential:

  • Gas
  • drug stores
  • dining
  • Online shopping
  • travel
  • Home improvement and furniture

However, your 2% and 3% tiers will be capped at rewards of up to $2,500. Fortunately, all other purchases can earn an unlimited 1% cash back. Of special note — if you’re a Preferred Rewards Member, you may be able to earn 25% to 75% more than the average cardholder. If gas is your chosen category, a regular cardholder will get $3 back on a $100 purchase. Preferred Rewards members may get as much as $5.25 on the same $100 purchase.

Bonuses

Bank of America’s Customized Cash Rewards Card comes with some attractive bonuses to encourage you to apply. If you’re approved, you’ll receive $200 to kickstart your cash back. You’ll need to spend $1,000 within the first 90 days before you see the bonus.

In addition, the cash-back card offers new cardholders 15 months of interest-free payments on balance transfers completed within the first 60 days of approval. The introductory offer could come in handy if you’re paying off a high balance on another credit card.

Approval Odds

You’ll need good credit to have a good chance of approval. Unfortunately, students, individuals who don’t have a credit track record or people with fair or poor credit will have trouble getting approved.

Good To Know

Secured credit cards are a good alternative when you can’t qualify for some of the top-tier rewards cards. They don’t rely on credit score for approval. You’ll need to pay a security deposit that will be held as collateral for the credit card’s limit.

As you make timely payments, the card issuer will report it to the credit bureaus and your credit score should improve over time. Secured credit cards can help you rebuild credit but they don’t usually come with any significant rewards program.

How To Apply

Applying for the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card is fairly simple if you apply online. Navigate over to the application page and enter the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Income/employment status
  • Contact info including address, phone and email address

You’ll need to answer some verification questions, but you should receive a decision in just a couple of minutes.

Is the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card Right for You?

Who doesn’t appreciate some cash back, especially on your everyday spending? The Bank of America Cash Rewards Card offers at least one percent back on all your card purchases and up to 3% on the category of your choice. Best of all, there’s no annual fee, which typically eats up any cash rewards you were hoping to earn.

There are several types of individuals who could really benefit from having the Customized Cash Rewards Card. Drivers with long commutes, for example, can earn 3% back on fuel stops, which could add up. The key is to know what category you spend the most on, activate it and make sure you pay with the card.

Members of warehouse clubs could also benefit from the rewards the card has to offer. Warehouse club purchases earn 2% cash back. When you tally that to the cash-back amount you already receive as a warehouse club member, you may essentially double your earnings (or more), which could cover your annual warehouse club membership fee, at the very least.

Skip the Bank of America Cash Rewards Card If…

This card is best for moderate spenders. Bank of America caps the higher-reward tiers of 2 and 3% to $2,500 per quarter. If you plan on spending more and would really like to maximize how much cash you can get back in rewards, there are other higher-earning cash-back rewards cards available.

If your credit is a work in progress, you may also want to skip this card for now. Bank of America credit cards typically require applicants to have a good credit score. Lastly, international travelers should look for a better option, such as a travel rewards card. Otherwise, the 3% foreign transaction fee tacked onto international purchases can really add up.

Final Take

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card gets a 3.8 out of 5 based on GOBankingRates’ criteria. Although the card has some good features, the cash-rewards card market is competitive. There are other good alternatives worth considering for applicants with a good credit score. Unless you’re a loyal Bank of America client, do your research before you apply for this card. You may be able to earn higher rewards with less work with a different cash back card such as the:

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About the Author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.

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