How to maximize the Bank of America Cash Rewards card’s 3-percent bonus in 2019


Check out our suggestions of which category to choose each month to help maximize your bonus earning potential in 2019.

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Bank of America just launched a change to the way that Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card holders earn cash back. Starting today, instead of earning 3 percent cash back on a fixed gas category, cardholders can choose from a variety of bonus categories, including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement and furnishings. Cardholders will continue to earn 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs – with a $2,500 combined limit on the 2- and 3-percent categories each quarter, and unlimited 1 percent back on all other purchases.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Rewards rate

  • 3% cash back on gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement and furnishings
  • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • $2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter, then 1%
  • 1% unlimited cash back on general purchases
Sign-up bonus
$200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days

Why use it?
The Bank of America Cash Rewards card is ideal for cardholders who want the ability to choose which bonus categories fit best with their spending habits.Read review
Estimated Yearly Rewards Value ($15,900 spend)
Annual Fee

Because you can select a new 3-percent bonus category one time each calendar month, a little planning ahead can help maximize your earning potential throughout the year. Check out our suggestions of which category to choose each month to help boost your bonus earnings in 2019.

January – online shopping

With after-Christmas sales and Martin Luther King Jr. Day falling in January, this is a good month to select the “online shopping” category. In addition to taking advantage of holiday sales from department stores and other retailers, you can purchase winter clothes, coats and Christmas decorations on clearance.

February – online shopping and dining

If you’re in the market for a new television, February is a good month to purchase one, since many retailers offer discounted prices on TVs ahead of the big game. With the game falling on February 3 this year, you can select the “online shopping” category and purchase a TV on February 1 or 2 from an online big box store.

For those celebrating Valentine’s Day – in addition to buying gifts for your significant other online – you can purchase an online restaurant gift card to use for a romantic dinner.

President’s Day weekend also presents opportunities to take advantage of special online sales.

March –  travel or gas

If you’re planning a trip for spring break, selecting the “travel” category allows you to earn 3 percent cash back on hotel bookings, last-minute flights and other travel purchases. But, if you’re planning a spring break road trip, the “gas” category may be the better option.

The travel category can also be used to book a cruise during “wave season,” which runs from January through March each year. While you may not get the least expensive deal, you’ll more than likely get the most valuable one – thanks to extra incentives offered by cruise lines and travel agents during this time.

April – home improvement and furnishings

With warmer weather and longer days, April is a great time to get started on yard work, exterior home improvements and interior remodeling. Home improvement stores also tend to offer deals during this month to coincide with spring cleaning and Earth Day.

May – online shopping and home improvement and furnishings

May is an ideal month for the “online shopping” category. Not only can you earn 3 percent cash back on Mother’s Day gifts purchased online, but you can also take advantage of a variety of sales on clothing, shoes, furniture and more during Memorial Day weekend.

Many home improvement stores also offer major deals on large appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines, on Memorial Day.

June – dining and travel

With graduation season and Father’s Day falling in June, several chain restaurants offer discounts or bonuses on restaurant gift cards during this month.

If you have a summer vacation in the works, the “travel” category can be used to earn a bonus on hotel stays, car rentals and more.

July – online shopping

Amazon Prime Day falls in mid-July and offers Prime members deep discounts on a variety of purchases, including tech items and clothing. To compete with these sales, many retailers offer Black Friday deals in July as well.

You can also expect sales from department stores, big box retailers and more ahead of Independence Day.

August – online shopping

Parents can take advantage of online back-to-school sales during the month of August, including class supplies, clothing and laptops.

September – online shopping, travel and gas

As the summer comes to a close, many retailers offer sales during Labor Day weekend. Shoppers can save on a variety of items, including clothing, mattresses and appliances.

Additionally, Labor Day is a huge holiday for end-of-summer travel – making the travel or gas categories (depending on how you plan to travel) – ideal.

October – online shopping and travel

Although not as big as Labor Day or Memorial Day, retailers often offer special sales and discounts during Columbus Day weekend.

Also, if you haven’t booked your Thanksgiving or Christmas travel yet, now is a good time to do so.

November – online shopping, home improvement and furnishings and gas

With Black Friday occurring in November, shoppers can earn a bonus on tech items, electronics, furniture, appliances and more by selecting the “online shopping” or “home improvement and furnishings” category.

Or, if you’re driving home for Thanksgiving, the “gas” category may be the best option.

December – online shopping and travel

In 2019, Cyber Monday occurs in December. By choosing the online shopping category this month, you earn the 3-percent bonus on Cyber Monday sale items, as well as on Christmas gifts and decorations purchased online.

Alternatively, you can select the “travel” category to earn the bonus on discounted flights, cruises, hotel bookings and vacation packages purchased on Travel Tuesday.

Selecting the right categories for you

Regardless of what shopping holidays and sales are scheduled for 2019, ultimately, selecting which category will help you maximize your rewards throughout the year depends on your spending habits. For example, if you drive long distances every day, the gas category will be more beneficial to you. Or, if you spend a large amount on medication and toiletries each month, the drugstore category will be best.

The bonus category is automatically set to gas and can be changed once a month in the Bank of America mobile banking app or through online banking. But keep in mind that you don’t have to change the bonus category each month – or at all in fact. Whichever category is selected will remain in effect until you decide to change it.

See related: Bank of America Cash Rewards cardholders can now choose how they earn earn rewards, Earn 25,000 bonus points with the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card


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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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